GEOS 201 Environmental Geology

Cynthia Fadem

Private four-year institution, primarily undergraduate


This course introduces whole-Earth materials & processes with a focus on the formation of & human interaction with surficial environments. We examine phenomena such as volcanoes, earthquakes, wasting, flooding, desertification, & climate change. Discussions and lectures employ case studies allowing students to place geologic phenomena in human context, including analysis of sustainable development, water supply, mining, agriculture, and waste disposal practices. Laboratory and field trip exercises employ maps, specimens, real-world datasets, and local geological sites and resources. This course is designed for students who want to understand Earth and how it works.

Course URL:
Course Size:

less than 15

Course Context:

This course fulfills the Quantitative Reasoning and 1/2 of the Scientific Inquiry requirement of Earlham's general education curriculum. Most students take the course to satisfy the Scientific Inquiry requirement. This course is one of two possible introductory courses for the Geology major, Geology minor, and Environmental Geology minor (the other course being Physical Geology). It also serves as a possible cognate for the Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Biology, and Peace & Global Studies majors.

Content includes minerals and rocks, tectonics, volcanoes, deformation, surface and groundwater, oceans, deserts, glaciers, and sustainability (energy, resources, and climate). Students gain experience contouring and graphing data, reading maps, applying basic calculation, and reasoning geoscientifically.

Course Goals:

-to contribute an understanding of Earth systems to the student's scientific literacy

-to provide the student with the tools necessary to interpret change in global environments

-to encourage critical thinking & effective problem-solving methodologies for sustainability in human-landscape interactions