Top 10 Reasons to Study Geology
Here's a top ten list of reasons why you should consider studying geology at Hartwick College:
1. It's not all about rocks! Geology is the study of Earth, and Earth processes - including Earth's surface environments.
Surprisingly few people know of the wide range of study and exciting careers included within geology. Yes- some geologists study rocks, minerals, volcanoes and earthquakes. However, geology is also an extremely, important environmental science integrated with meteorology, climatology, oceanography, hydrology, environmental chemistry and ecology (biology).
2. Society needs energy and other natural resources now and in the future.
Geologists are employed to find and safely extract these resources. As the Earth's human population approaches 8 billion people and is thought to exceed 10 billion people by 2050, humans will need ever-increasing amounts of water for agriculture and drinking, mineral resources, and energy resources. Mineral resources are used in nearly every aspect of our everyday lives. Many natural energy and mineral resources are non-renewable on human timescales. Even clean water resources are increasingly limited in quantity. Geologists are not only involved in finding natural resources, but also in the development of renewable alternative resources.
Hartwick provides solid undergraduate coursework, field experiences and internship opportunities tailored to natural resources, and alternative energy sources.
3. Society needs to be prepared for natural hazards now and in the future.
As human populations grow larger, many more of us are located near regions of the world prone to natural disasters. Geologists are employed to assess risk and impact of potential natural hazards.
Hartwick courses such as Environmental Geology, Geology and Natural History of Hawaii, Field Geology of the Desert Southwest, Tectonics, and Structural Geology provide valuable training and field experience with volcanic, seismic, landslide/rock collapse, and coastal erosion hazards - to name a few. In addition, some students choose to explore these hazards as part of their senior research project.
4. Society needs clean water and air, and also needs to understand human impact on the natural world.
Environmental geologists are employed to detect and remediate pollution, and to analyze human impact on soil, water, air and climate. Through coursework and collaborative research, Hartwick students learn: 1) about human impact on meteorological phenomena and climate, 2) groundwater flow testing techniques, 3) water sampling methods, and 4) analytical techniques. Environmental research with Dr. Balogh-Brunstad typically involves integrated study of rocks, soils, water and microbial life.
5. Understanding Earth systems is the only way to develop sound environmental policies.
Public environmental policy without geological analysis is unbalanced. Even local governments prefer that their environmental policy makers and planners have solid science backgrounds, in better order to evaluate data.
Hartwick College offers environmental options for the geology (environmental track), biology (ecology track) and environmental chemistry (major) curricula. For those interested in pursuing a career in public policy, students in these environmental science majors can also pursue the Environmental Science and Policy minor, which also exposes them to non-science aspects of environmental studies. In addition, the geology curriculum provides a geoscience background, as well as critical thinking/reasoning skills useful in those hoping to pursue careers in Environmental Law.
6. Geology majors with environmental training are in higher demand by employers than most other environmental science majors.
An increasing number of colleges are offering "environmental studies" majors. These curricula typically lack the math and science rigor of environmental science majors, and are less attractive to environmental analysis and engineering firms that provide many long-term careers in the field. Among environmental scientists, geoscience and environmental chemistry careers are growing faster than ecology and conservation biology careers.
7. The future of science is interdisciplinary and geology is a naturally interdisciplinary science.
The very nature of geology is interdisciplinary; it involves aspects of physics, chemistry and biology, as well as concepts and phenomena unique to our discipline. Hartwick student-faculty collaborative research projects are typically interdisciplinary studies.
8. Geology is one of the most tactile and hands-on science disciplines to learn.
Field-based education is a time-honored tradition in geology, and it remains one of the most efficient and comprehensive ways to educate young geoscientists. Even for the most "high-tech" laboratory-based analyses, the context of most geological research data is field derived. Many geological phenomena and features can be seen, touched and even smelled (visit an active volcano with us and you'll know what we mean). In addition, field study is not only informative but it is also fun! Students typically form lasting bonds of friendship living and learning together in the field. Sadly, field experiences are becoming harder and harder to find in many undergraduate programs.
The Hartwick Geology and Environmental Sciences Department specializes in field-based education. There are field components to nearly all our major-level courses, and we have several short-term and longer-term courses dedicated largely to field study. In short, we will get you out of the classroom to look at natural phenomena firsthand whenever possible! Don't worry - we will also teach you plenty of important analytical techniques in the lab setting as well. In addition to field-based courses and research, students have many opportunities for internships in nearly any interest area of geology.
9. Most geoscience undergraduates succeed in small liberal arts and sciences programs.
In liberal arts and sciences programs with low student-to-faculty ratios, students receive personalized attention with course difficulties, and they undertake collaborative research with their faculty mentors. Together, they learn and overcome the pitfalls that arise in every scientific study. They gain confidence and capability.
At Hartwick College, our largest introductory geology course typically enrolls 38 students, and our major-level courses typically enroll 4-15 students. Our department Student-to-Faculty ratio varies from 11:1-12:1, including consistently full introductory courses. Ask any of our students and you'll realize that Hartwick Geology and Environmental Science faculty are exceptionally accessible, and are willing to work closely with students during and outside class times.
10. Undergraduate research is a key element to success in geoscience graduate study and in the job market.
The only true way to learn the scientific method is by actually doing science! Ask graduate program faculty or geotechnical employers, and they will likely tell you that undergraduate research is one of the most important experiences that they're looking for in applicants.
Every Hartwick geology student completes a senior research project, a written report (thesis), and a live presentation based on the results. The research projects typically run 1-2 years in length and are conducted in collaboration with a faculty mentor. The costs of these projects are supported by the department budget, Hartwick faculty research grants, and external grants to either faculty or student. In the last 10 years alone, Hartwick students have conducted funded senior research in such wide ranging places as Quebec, New Hampshire, the Mojave Desert of California, West Texas, Mexico, coastal Massachusetts, the Bahamas, Hawaii, and Denmark. All Hartwick geology seniors present their research at the annual Hartwick Student Showcase (an on campus student conference). In addition, many of these student-faculty collaborations are presented at national and international professional conferences! A few of these collaborations have yielded professional scientific journal publications as well!