Geological & Environmental Sciences


Connection to Sustainability: Study in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences provides an examination of many topics related to sustainability including perspectives on climate change, both past and present, the relationship between Earth processes and our limited natural resources, and environmental cycles and hazards that influence sustainability.

Teaching: While all degree tracks and most courses in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences have aspects of sustainability, specific courses include: Introduction to Environmental Science and Engineering, Introduction to Physical Geology; Introduction to Historical Geology; Environmental Change, Hazards and Resources; Water: Mountains to Sea; Oceanography; Environmental Geochemistry; Evolution of the Earth; The History of Coal from the Pennsylvanian to the Present; Geoarchaeology; Issues in Environmental Geology; Petrology and Petrography; Sedimentology and Stratigraphy; Hydrogeology; Geomorphology; Paleontology; Engineering Geology. Many students also conduct research, and write Senior Theses, that have direct applications to sustainability.

Research: Research in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences focuses on water resources, earth materials, climate change and time scales of climate change (past extinction events), water quality, and the location and potential cleanup of coal ash spills.

Student Engagement and Outreach Activities: Undergraduate majors in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences conduct research with faculty and are active participants in field trips and professional conferences. The Department provides outreach to K-12 students from throughout northwestern North Carolina (thousands of students per year), is active in the STEaM Expo, and hosts a weekly seminar that often focuses on environmental and sustainability topics, which has drawn over 4000 attendees over the past two years. Two clubs, the Appalachian Geological Society and the Environmental Science Club, also engage in sustainability activities each semester.

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