Geology Curriculum, Bowdoin College
Overview and Context
Bowdoin is a liberal arts college in Maine. During the last decade we have had an intense focus on pedagogy, adopting a field-based and inquiry-driven curriculum. We believe that our focus on problem-solving and inquiry, while introducing our students to state-of-the-art tools, is key to our success.
Our goal is for our curriculum to ensure that each student graduating from our program develops a set of critical skills and learns fundamental geological concepts:
- scientific data collection, interpretation, and analysis
- drawing conclusions from varied and incomplete data (all courses)
- library and reference skills; reading and interpreting scientific literature
- basic statistics; graph interpretation and plotting
- map and compass skills
- GIS skills
- identification of minerals and rocks; microscopy
- community service
- writing and presentation skills
Fundamental Geological Concepts:
- plate tectonics
- fluid flow and surficial processes
- rock cycle
- stress/strain and folds/faults
- geologic time
- basic geochemistry
- integral nature of geologic studies
- history of the science, including paradigms and shifts in approaches
Courses and Sequencing
Entry into the program
Three entry-level courses with no prerequisites are offered in geology:
- Environmental Geology and Hydrology;
- Investigating Earth; and
- Marine Environmental Geology.
Majors must take Investigating Earth and may count either Environmental Geology and Hydrology or Marine Environmental Geology towards the major.
The major consists of nine courses. Four core courses are required of all majors:
- Investigating Earth
- Groundwater OR Watershed Hydrology
- Advanced Seminar in Geology
In addition, to experience the breadth of the discipline, one course must be taken from courses emphasizing the solid earth (Sedimentary Geology, Structural Geology, Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology, Geophysics) and one course must be taken from courses emphasizing oceans and surface processes (Marine Geology, Coastal Oceanography, Glacial Processes and Landforms).
The three remaining elective courses for the major may be selected from the geology courses offered in the department, or ones cross-listed with geology and offered in the physics or chemistry department. Up to two of these three remaining electives may be taken off campus (i.e. abroad or field course).