Strong Geoscience Departments > Degree Programs > Profiles and Planning Documents Collection > Degree Program Profiles > Earth System Science, University of Wyoming

Earth System Science Program, University of Wyoming

Information for this profile was provided by Erin Campbell-Stone in 2007. Information is also available on the program website.

Jump down to Overview and Context * Connecting to the Future of Science * Goals and Assessment * Courses and Sequencing

Overview and Context

The University of Wyoming Earth System Science program curriculum. Diagram constructed by Carol Ormand from information provided by Erin Campbell-Stone. Click on the image to see a larger version.

We live on one planet, a habitat that becomes more and more complex and interactive the more we learn about it. How does a forest affect the earth, water, air, and human activity? How do the oceans affect the growth of wheat? Will global warming bring droughts or more hurricanes? These questions and many more are addressed by a new interdisciplinary BS degree at UW, Earth System Science (ESS), which will provide an integrated approach to pressing issues of global environmental change. Courses offered in the program examine interactions among components of the Earth system, including the anthrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere.

This is a brand new program of study at the University of Wyoming. The Geology and Geophysics program offers more traditional BS and BA degrees. The Environment and Natural Resources program offers a degree with a geologic emphasis, but that program tends to lean more heavily toward public policy.

Connecting to the Future of Science

This program is designed to help students become strong interdisciplinary scientists.

Goals and Assessment

Since this is a new program, the goals have not yet been published. From what I understand the program was developed to help students gain interdisciplinary expertise and to ensure quantitative and scientific rigor. I expect it will be assessed through analysis of rubrics that gather data from student exams, projects, and labs.

Courses and Sequencing

Entry into the program

Any introductory-level science course with lab, ideally related to the concentration area. For example:
  • Physical Geology
  • General Biology
  • Introduction to Physical Geography
  • Introduction to Biological Anthropology

Core courses

For ESS in general:
  • Geochemical Cycles and the Earth System
  • Environmental Change
  • Modeling the Earth System
For the Geology and Geophysics Concentration:
  • Introduction to Geophysics
  • Mineralogy (prerequisite: Geochemical Cycles and the Earth System)
  • Structural Geology
  • Stratigraphy and Sedimentation
  • Field Camp (prerequisite: Structure and Sed/Strat)


Geology Concentration Electives:
  • Introduction to Petrology (prerequisite: Mineralogy)
  • Principles of Paleontology
  • Earth Surface Processes (prerequisite: Calculus 1, Engineering Physics)
  • General Geophysics (prerequisite: Calculus 2)
  • Geochemistry (prerequisite: Mineralogy, General Chemistry 1, Calculus 1)
  • Geohydrology (prerequisite: Calculus 1)
  • Remote Sensing of the Environment
  • Remote Sensing and Natural Resource Management (prerequisite: Introduction to Physical Geography)
  • Atmospheric Remote Sensing (prerequisite: Introduction to Physical Geography)
  • Microbiology (prerequisite: General Biology)
  • Animal Biology (prerequisite: General Biology)
  • Plant and Fungal Biology (prerequisite: General Biology)
  • Geographic Information Systems I (prerequisite: Map Use and Analysis)
  • GIS in Anthropology (prerequisite: 3 Anthro courses)
  • Biogeochemistry (prerequisite: Organic Chemistry)
  • Principles of Biogeochemistry (prerequisite: Organic Chemistry)
  • Global Change: A Geologic Perspective
  • Geochemistry of Natural Waters (prerequisite: Mineralogy)
  • Soil Biogeochemistry (prerequisite: Introduction to Soil Science)

Capstone Course

Earth System Exploration or Geology Capstone (for Geology emphasis)

Other required courses

  • Calculus 1
  • Calculus 2
  • General Chemistry 1
  • General Chemistry 2
  • College Physics 1