Earth System Science

Earth System Science examines the Earth as an interconnected set of spheres, including the Geosphere (rocks, land), Atmosphere (air, weather), Hydrosphere (water, ice) and Biosphere (plants, animals), as well as their interaction with the Exosphere (sun, space). Earth System Scientists integrate multiple fields of study to address the grand challenges our growing global population faces, such as sea level rise, climate change, life near geologic hazards, and sustainable sources of energy. As an Earth System Scientist, you can explore questions such as: why is the Earth’s climate warming, how do we know, and how will this affect the Earth systems? How does fracking affect the environment? How can we teach future generations to ask and answer interdisciplinary problems within Earth System Science?

Earth System Scientists work at a variety of spatial scales, from microscopic fluid inclusions in minerals to surface processes on other planets. We are concerned with processes that operate on time scales we can see (how fast are the barrier islands migrating?), as well as those we can’t (what was Earth’s climate like during the age of the dinosaurs?). Addressing the grand challenges our growing global population faces will require a thorough understanding of our impact and reliance on the Earth system in the decades ahead. Are you ready to change the world?

All students majoring or minoring in an ESSC program have the benefit of a faculty adviser who will work with them to construct a formal Program of Study. This is preferably done before their second semester in the program and definitely before their third semester. This is particularly important because some upper-level ESSC courses are not offered every semester, in some cases being offered only on an every-other-year basis. ESSC programs include the following: Geology Major (and all associated concentrations) and Minor, Earth Science Major and Minor, and Earth Science Secondary Teaching Major and Minor.

Undergraduate Major/Minor: Earth Science

Pursue a career as an earth science technician or combine a background in earth science with other fields, including surveying and spatial analysis or even journalism and law. Complement your major with a relevant minor, such as coastal environments, environmental analysis, chemistry, biology, and math.

Undergraduate Major/Minor: Earth Science, Secondary Teacher Certification

Pursue a career as a high school earth science teacher. Qualify for the Michigan Department of Education Secondary Provisional Certificate endorsed in earth science/geology, certification code DH. The Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) covering this field is #20, “Geology/Earth Science.”

Graduate: Master of Science in Earth Science Education (ESE) 

Expand and enhance the expertise and skill base of in-service secondary-level earth science through a carefully structured and integrated set of instructional experiences. Participate in classroom and field-based elements. Develop the skills represented in these roles and competencies to be at the forefront in evaluating, incorporating and promoting new developments in earth science content and pedagogy in the secondary classroom setting.

A degree in Earth Science could have you working with

  • Government agencies
  • Consulting firms
  • Environmental agencies
  • Research firms
  • Construction companies
  • Railroad companies
  • Drilling companies
  • Coal/Mining companies
  • Petroleum industry
  • Museums
  • K-12 school system
  • University/College