Why Study Geoscience?

Geoscience Students 
Geoscience relates to the study of Earth’s processes involving the study of rocks, minerals, soils, oceans, fresh water and atmosphere. Geoscientists are individuals trained in multi-disciplinary fields of science designed to assess Earth’s resources and to mitigate geohazards. These geohazards may be due to natural phenomena such as earthquakes as well as geohazards due to human impacts on Earth’s surface. Geoscientists locate resources such as potable water, oil, gas and metallic ore deposits, forecast the weather and model climate change, develop land-use plans and geohazard maps, explore Earth’s remote localities as well as other planets and the solar system. The geoscience field is experiencing significant growth in response to an interplay of increasing global consumption and decreasing availability of Earth materials (minerals, rocks, soils and water) and energy resources, as well as the recognition that resource extraction and use is profoundly impacting our global environment and our global economy. Increasingly, scientists, business and civic leaders and other concerned citizens recognize the need to study Earth systems and the effects of human actions.

UWSP’s bachelor’s degree in geosciences addresses the need for baccalaureate prepared geoscientists in the Upper Midwest that will integrate geoscience (environmental geology, Earth materials, hydrogeology, structural geology and field work), GIS and remote sensing. Why are these topics important to Wisconsin students? Earth material extraction in quarries and gravel pits throughout Wisconsin are essential to the construction of roadways, office buildings and airport expansion projects. Groundwater and surface water resources must be monitored and protected from overuse and contamination. Gas and oil wells continue to pump hydrocarbons from the Michigan basin. Continued rise in gas prices will result in a greater demand for geoscience skills as energy companies expand their research and development operations in the Midwest and throughout the world. Metal prices have risen largely due to the increased demand in countries such as China and India. The active mining of metallic ores continues in our neighboring states of Minnesota and Michigan. Meanwhile, Wisconsin hosts among the largest undeveloped copper and zinc deposits in North America. Clearly resource exploration will continue for the foreseeable future in the Upper Midwest.

The Major

The Geoscience major consists of a minimum of 59 credits, including 18 credits of core courses, 6 credits of geospatial techniques, 4 credits of mathematics, 10 credits of natural science, 3 credits of human interactions and 18 credits of geoscience electives.

1.     Required Core Courses. 18 credits: GEOL 104, 106, 393 or GEOG 393a, GEOL 490 or 491, GEOG 101 and 279.

aMay only be taken with Geoscience coordinator or department chair approval

2.     Geospatial Techniques. At least six credits from: GEOG 276, 377, 379, 390, 472, 476, 479.

3.     Mathematics. At least four credits from: MATH 111, 118, 120, 121, 355.

4.     Natural Science. At least ten credits from: CHEM 105, 106, 117, PHYS 201, 202, 203, 204, BIOL 101, 130, 160.

5.     Human Interactions. At least three credits from: GEOG 340, 344, 358, 335 or GEOL 335, GEOL 330.

6.     Geoscience Electives. At least 18 credits from: GEOG 340a, 344a, GEOG 335a or GEOL 335a, GEOG 352 or GEOL 352, GEOG 353, 354, 358a, 390a, GEOL 300, 310, 320, 330a, 370, 383, GEOG 391b or GEOL 391, GEOG 395b or GEOL 395, GEOG 399b or GEOL 399, GEOG 480b or GEOL 480, GEOG 485b or GEOL 485, GEOL 487, NRES 220 or WATR 220, NRES 251, SOIL 362, WATR 389.

aIf not taken to fulfill Categories 2 or 5 above

bMay only be taken with Geoscience coordinator or department chair approval