Earth Systems at Stanford University
Program Design & Assessment
Earth Systems is an interdisciplinary environmental science major that focuses on the study of contemporary environmental problems that lie at the interface of human and natural systems. Students select one of 6 course tracks (biosphere, oceans, anthrosphere, land systems, food and agriculture, energy science) to focus their studies.
Strengths of this program
Strengths of the program include interdisciplinary training in the natural, physical and social sciences through a curriculum that allows flexibility for students to choose the topics most relevant to their interests. The required internship is also a strength of our program that allows students to get real-world experience during their degree program. We offer one-on-one, personalized advising for our students from both faculty and a dedicated staff to help them navigate their options and make the most of their time at the university.
Types of students servedUndergraduate students in the liberal arts and sciences preparing for a wide range of careers.
Graduate students working towards a MS degree in an interdisciplinary environmental science topic.
The goals of this program are as follows:
- Demonstrate knowledge of foundational skills and concepts relevant to interdisciplinary study of the environment.
- Analyze environmental problems at the interface of natural and human systems in an interdisciplinary fashion.
- Demonstrate the ability to communicate complex concepts and data to expert and non-expert audiences.
- Independently, and as part of a team, apply relevant science, economics, engineering, and policy to problem analysis and proposed solutions.
The learning goals were informed by the following resources:
Learning outcomes were developed in conjunction with a University-wide effort with all departments. Many discussions with colleagues in similar departments also contributed.
How program goals are assessed
We assess our Program through student surveys, evaluating the number of majors we have year to year, and Faculty Senate reviews of the program every 5 years.
Design features that allow goals to be met
The most important design feature is that we are flexible and responsive to student needs. We are able to make changes with a minimum of bureaucracy to ensure that our Program and our students are reaching their goals.
We average 30 BS and 25 MS graduates per year.
Careers pursued by our alumni
Alumni are in a wide variety of careers including academia, non-profits, and business. Most are in environmental fields.