Proposed Program: Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Geoscience

New Program Proposal
Author: Department of Earth Science

Click here for an MSWord version of this proposal.



ESCI New Program Proposal 1

Memo describing related proposals (1/1)

 
 

 


TO:                  College of Arts and Sciences Academic Affairs Committee

FROM:             Karen S. Bartels, Associate Professor of Earth Science and Women’s Studies

DATE:                         13 April 2005

RE:                   Curricular Actions / Earth Science

New Program:   Bachelor of Arts Degree in Environmental Geoscience

 

The Department of Earth Science currently offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Science.  As part of our on-going process of program and course assessment, we are proposing some revisions to update our course listings and descriptions, including some numbering and level changes (some of which are already under review by the Faculty Committee on Academic Affairs).  The existing program serves the needs of students who wish to go on to graduate school in earth sciences or who plan to become professional geoscientists.  Students in the B.S. – Earth Science program are required to complete 41 credits of Earth Science courses and 25 credits in specific Chemistry, Physics, and Calculus courses.  The program is quite successful, with numerous alumni working in geological or environmental consulting firms in the Chicago area. 

 

However, many students express an interest in majoring in Earth Science although they have other career aspirations.  Some specific examples are students intending to pursue careers in education, technical writing/ editing, law, business, and communications.  To serve the needs of these students, we propose a new program for the Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Geoscience.  A key difference between the proposed program and the existing program is the requirement in the new program to complete a minor in a field which complements the student’s goals and interests.  The current B.S. program does not require a minor, and because of the cognate requirements, most students do not have ample room in their curricula to include a minor.


                                    Program Proposal Checklist

ESCI New Program Proposal 2

Program Proposal Checklist (1/1)

 
 

 Program Abbreviated Title :  BA Environmental Geoscience

 

 Program Complete Title: Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Geoscience

 

Program Description (100 words maximum for catalog)

The Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Geoscience provides students with a strong foundation in geology, emphasizing near-surface geologic processes.  The B.A. degree serves the needs of students interested in careers in such fields as science journalism, environmental law, science education, technical writing, science policy, and environmental protection.  Students take core courses in geologic fundamentals and electives that provide breadth in environmental geologic processes.  One cognate course each in chemistry and mathematics are required.  Students are required to select a minor, in consultation with ESCI faculty, that complements this program and the student’s career objectives.

 

Prerequisite Courses:  None

 

Required Courses for Major:      see attached

 

Required Courses for Minor:      N/A

 

 

                                      Program Proposal Checklist

 

Before submitting a proposal, please indicate whether each of the following tasks have been fulfilled.

 

 

Yes

 

 

No

 

                                      N/A

 

1. Does the program proposal include a rationale?

x

 

 

2. Does this proposal require coordination with other departments in the College or University? If so, please attach supporting documentation.

 

x

 

3. Are there adequate Library resources (print and media) to support this proposal? If not, state how resources would be developed or how the proposal would be affected.

x

 

 

4. Are additional resources (staff, fiscal, or technical, including lab space and equipment) required to support this proposal? If so, please identify the resources. If those resources are not available, state how the proposal would be affected.

 

x

 

5. Has academic computing been consulted regarding the adequacy of resources (lab space, hardware and software) to support this proposal? If computing resources are not available, describe how those resources would be developed or how the proposal be affected.

 

 

x

6. If this proposal concerns a 300-level course to be offered for graduate credit, is the required academic rationale attached? It is suggested that program changes be presented in the form of a table, with rationale for each change.

 

 

x

7. Is the course syllabus for any new or revised required courses attached in support of this proposal? (See syllabus requirements for course proposals)

x

 

 

8. Are all supporting documents attached?

        Catalog Description of Proposed Program

        Assessment Plan for Proposed Program

 

x

x

 

 


NEW ENTRY IN NEIU ACADEMIC CATALOG

ESCI New Program Proposal 3

Catalog Description (1/1)

 
Major in Environmental Geoscience for the Bachelor of Arts Degree

The Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Geoscience provides students with a strong foundation in geology, emphasizing near-surface geologic processes.  The B.A. degree serves the needs of students interested in careers in such fields as science journalism, environmental law, science education, technical writing, science policy, and environmental protection.  Students take core courses in geologic fundamentals and electives that provide breadth in environmental geologic processes.  One cognate course each in chemistry and mathematics are required.  Students are required to select a minor, in consultation with ESCI faculty, that complements this program and the student’s career objectives.

 

  

Required Courses:

ESCI 207 Atmosphere and Oceans                                            4 cr.

ESCI 211 Physical Geology                                                        4 cr.

ESCI 306 Rocks and Minerals1                                                  4 cr.

ESCI 312 Historical Geology1                                                     4 cr.

ESCI 331 Geologic Structures and Map Interpretation                 4 cr.

ESCI 390 Field Geology2                                                            5 cr.

 

Electives in Earth Science:

Choose from 300-level course offerings                                      13-15 cr.

 (at least 9 credits from this list)

ESCI 309 Geochemistry                                                             3 cr.

ESCI 315 Glacial and Quaternary Geology                                  3 cr.

ESCI 317 Principles of Sedimentation                                         4 cr.

ESCI 320 Limnology                                                                  3 cr.

ESCI 329 Soil Science                                                               3 cr.

ESCI 337 Principles of Hydrogeology                                         4 cr.

ESCI 339 Field Hydrogeology                                                    4 cr.

ESCI 340 Introduction to Geotechnical Engineering                     3 cr.

ESCI-OC 324 Oceanography                                                     4 cr.

ESCI-OC 334 Coastal Marine Research                                     4 cr.

 

Required Courses in Related Fields:

CHEM 211 General Chemistry I                                                            5 cr.

MATH 206 Precalculus                                                             4 cr.     _ 

                                                                                    Total  47-49 cr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ESCI New Program Proposal 4

Rationale (1/4)

 
RATIONALE for
New Program:   B.A. – Environmental Geoscience

The Department of Earth Science currently offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Science.  This program serves the needs of students who wish to go on to graduate school in earth sciences or who plan to  become geoscientists.  Students are required to complete 41 credits of Earth Science courses and 25 credits in specific Chemistry, Physics, and Calculus courses.  The program is quite successful, with numerous alumni working in geological or environmental consulting firms in the Chicago area.  However, there are many students who express an interest in majoring in Earth Science who have other career aspirations.   

 

The Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Geoscience program is proposed as a way to serve students with an interest and desire to study Earth Science, but who wish to obtain a more liberal education in geoscience with an emphasis on environmental issues.  Environmental geoscience is a common program construct in the more general Earth and Environmental Geosciences or Geology and Environmental Geosciences domain, with a specific focus on the surface interactions between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and solid earth domains.  

 

Environmental geoscience, then, represents the part of the larger earth science discipline that is most directly relevant to society; therefore, of all the specific areas of earth science, it is the best suited for a liberal arts and sciences degree.  A background in this field would find application in diverse careers, including: business, law, journalism, politics, resource development and management, anthropology, environmental medicine, library and information science, applied information technology, international relations, and many more.  In fact, the Environmental Careers Organization, in “The Complete Guide to Environmental Careers in the 21st Century”, says that “people who combine science with non-science degrees (e.g., law, business, communications, and policy) are extremely competitive in all sectors.”  The report goes on to urge students to combine interdisciplinary work within a traditional science major.

 

The scope of the proposed program would allow more flexibility for the student to combine the B.A. with a minor and/or another major that corresponds with their specific interests.  The existing B.S. degree program in Earth Science does not require, nor does it easily allow, students to add a complementary minor to their program.  A key component of the B.A. – Environmental Geoscience would be the requirement to complete a minor, chosen in accordance with the student’s individual goals and in consultation with ESCI faculty.

 

No other university in Illinois offers a B.A. in environmental geoscience, although many offer B.A. options for earth science and geology majors, and several offer environmental geoscience options for the B.S. degree.  Northern Illinois University offers an emphasis in Environmental Geoscience within their B.S. program, which is primarily aimed at students planning to pursue an advanced degree or a career in the field of environmental geoscience.  Illinois State University offers a program with Environmental emphasis only at the M.S. level.  Southern Illinois University offers a B.A. program in Geology, but without the emphasis on environmental geoscience.  The University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana offers a "Sciences and Letters Curriculum" major in geology, including an option of an emphasis in Earth and Environmental Science. This program has a similar target audience to our proposed program, but it is a B.S. degree program. UIUC, moreover, is geographically inaccessible to many of those constituting NEIU's student base.

ESCI New Program Proposal 4

Rationale (2/4)

 
 


As populations and economies grow, there is increasing pressure on natural resources and impacts on environmental quality, as well as increasing numbers of people living in areas impacted by geologic hazards.  Thus, there is a critical need for people with a background in environmental geoscience who are able to deal with these complex problems.  The proposed program, by opening up the study of environmental geoscience to more NEIU students interested in various careers, will help increase the diversity of people educated in earth and environmental sciences.  This is especially important for our urban communities dealing with issues such as waste disposal, air and water quality, and land use.  Finally, by preparing NEIU students for these various careers and helping them develop the adaptability to change careers, it will help fulfill policy area one of the Illinois Commitment (sustaining strong economic growth).   

 

 

 

 

1. In narrative form, explain the general goals of the program: what should students know or be able to do as a result of having gone through the program?

 

There are three general goals for the proposed program.

1) Knowledge and Skills within the discipline: 

a) Students will gain a strong foundation in geology with an emphasis on near-surface geologic processes; b) Students will understand the process and application of gathering, synthesizing, and interpreting geologic data and observations; c) Within the context of the accepted body of environmental geologic knowledge, students will be able to critically evaluate the validity of geologic data and interpretations from other people/sources.

 

2) Communication Skills:

Students will be able to communicate effectively, primarily with a target non-technical audience, but also within the scientific community, about phenomena and issues related to environmental geosciences.

 

3) Citizenship and Life-Long Learning:

Students will obtain the knowledge and skills needed for good citizenship - especially the ability to make informed decisions about land-use, resources and the environment and to continue life-long learning about environmental geoscience-based issues.

 


2. For each goal, provide a set of specific outcomes…. For each outcome, provide performance criteria against which students' work will be measured.

ESCI New Program Proposal 4

Rationale (3/4)

 
Goals

Outcomes

Performance Criteria

1) Knowledge and Skills within the discipline:

I.  General Knowledge of the Field

a) Students will gain a strong foundation in geology with an emphasis on near-surface geologic processes.

A. Earth History:  Students will be able to describe the origin and evolution of the earth with respect to geologic change over time.

Successful completion of coursework and project in Historical Geology.

B. Earth System Processes: Students will understand global geological processes such as plate tectonics, climate change, the rock cycle, and the hydrologic cycle.  They will be able to describe the interactions between the lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere that affect and control these processes, especially in the context of geologic hazards and resources.

Successful completion of  Atmosphere & Oceans, Physical Geology, Rocks & Minerals, Geologic Structures & Map Interpretation.

 

Scientific paper OR paper/ project applying principles of Environmental Geosciences to other discipline.

C.  Hazards, Resources and Land Use:  Students will understand and be able to explain in non-technical language a) causes of geologic hazards and some strategies for mitigation of hazards; b) distribution, abundance, and use issues of earth resources (mineral, water, fuel); and c) effects of geology on human occupation of land as well as changes in surficial processes resulting from human occupation of land.

Satisfactory completion of Environmental Geology Project

b) Students will understand the process and application of gathering, synthesizing, and interpreting geologic data and observations. 

II.  Field, Lab and Research Skills

A. Map Interpretation:  Students will be able to interpret key elements of geologic and topographic maps and cross sections in order to assess the geologic factors which impact land use and hazards in a region.

Successful completion of field work project (map and report)

B. Identification and Characterization of Earth Materials: Students will be able to apply the process, techniques, and tools for identification and classification of rocks, minerals and sediment samples, and to describe their physical and chemical characteristics.

Satisfactory completion of rock/ mineral/ or fossil identification and characterization log or project     

c) Within the context of the accepted body of environmental geologic knowledge, students will be able to critically evaluate the validity of geologic data and interpretations from other people/sources.

 

C. Application of Skills:  Students will be able to apply their geologic knowledge of environmental geoscience-related issues, such as water supply, waste disposal, flooding, coastal engineering, resource development, landslides and earthquakes.   This includes locating and evaluating relevant data, information and resources via print and electronic media.

Scientific paper OR paper/ project applying principles of Environmental Geosciences to other discipline.

2) Communication Skills:

Students will be able to communicate effectively, primarily with a target non-technical audience, but also within the scientific community, about phenomena and issues related to environmental geosciences.

 

III.  Communication Skills

A. Written communication:  Students will be able to write a technical paper about some aspect of environmental geosciences using the conventions accepted in the discipline.

Scientific paper OR paper/ project     applying principles of Environmental Geosciences to other discipline.

ESCI New Program Proposal 4

Rationale (4/4)

 
B. Oral communication:  Students will be able to present the results of a project or investigation.

 

Videotape or digital recording of oral presentation from any ESCI course or student research symposium.

 

3) Citizenship and Life-Long Learning:

Students will obtain the knowledge and skills needed for good citizenship - especially the ability to make informed decisions about land-use, resources and the environment and to continue life-long learning about environmental geoscience-based issues.

 

See II.C. and III. A and B.

 

3. In what various instruments will the program apply these performance criteria to measure students' success in reaching the above goals (e.g. portfolio, examination, exit-interview, alumni survey, job-placement report)?

 

The program will use the instrument of student portfolios to apply these performance criteria to measure students’ success in reaching the goals for the program. 

 

4. How will the program use information about student performance gathered in (3) to improve future students' performance?

 

Earth Science faculty meet annually to evaluate portfolios, discuss results, and develop plans for improvement of individual courses, coordination of courses within the program, or communication of goals and expectations to students, as needed.

 

5. Explain how the program will prepare students for multiple careers or life-long learning.

 

The curriculum in geological sciences is ideally suited for preparing students for multiple careers and life-long learning.  Earth and environmental scientists are great problem-solvers.  They learn to think in four-dimensions, becoming spatial thinkers not only in the three dimensions of the present, but also along the dimension of deep time of the geologic past.  They develop critical thinking skills by dealing with large, complex systems and data that is often “incomplete” and ambiguous.  As geologist and author Sarah Andrews wrote in an article for students in Geotimes (April 2000), “Think of the geology curriculum… as being a training ground for developing a very special type of mental muscle.  The kinds of information, practical puzzles and mentorship that are presented in geology curricula are exactly the kind of gymnasium your mind needs to become one that can help the human race live responsibly on this planet…”   Geoscientists are adaptable, creative problem-solvers well-versed in global systems processes.  Training in environmental geosciences provides students with skills needed for multiple careers and for continuing to learn about complex, large-scale issues of global importance.

 

                                        

 



ESCI New Program Proposal 6

Program Proposal Checklist (4/4)

 

 

ESCI New Program Proposal 5

Assessment Plan (1/4)

 
 


Assessment plan for proposed program: B.A. in Environmental Geosciences

******************************************

Goals for Majors:

 

1) Knowledge and Skills within the discipline:

a) Students will gain a strong foundation in geology with an emphasis on near-surface geologic processes; b) Students will understand the process and application of gathering, synthesizing, and interpreting geologic data and observations; c) Within the context of the accepted body of environmental geologic knowledge, students will be able to critically evaluate the validity of geologic data and interpretations from other people/sources.

 

2) Communication Skills:

Students will be able to communicate effectively, primarily with a target non-technical audience, but also within the scientific community, about phenomena and issues related to environmental geosciences.

 

3) Citizenship and Life-Long Learning:

Students will obtain the knowledge and skills needed for good citizenship - especially the ability to make informed decisions about land-use, resources and the environment and to continue life-long learning about environmental geoscience-based issues.

 

Expected Outcomes:

 

I: General Knowledge of the Field

A. Earth History:  Students will be able to describe the origin and evolution of the earth with respect to geologic change over time.

 

B. Earth System Processes: Students will understand global geological processes such as plate tectonics, climate change, the rock cycle, and the hydrologic cycle.  They will be able to describe the interactions between the lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere that affect and control these processes, especially in the context of geologic hazards and resources.

 

C.  Hazards, Resources and Land Use:  Students will understand and be able to explain in non-technical language a) causes of geologic hazards and some strategies for mitigation of hazards; b) distribution, abundance, and use issues of earth resources (mineral, water, fuel); and c) effects of geology on human occupation of land as well as changes in surficial processes resulting from human occupation of land.

 

II: Field, Lab and Research Skills

A. Map Interpretation:  Students will be able to interpret key elements of geologic and topographic maps and cross sections in order to assess the geologic factors which impact land use and hazards in a region.

 

ESCI New Program Proposal 5

Assessment Plan (2/4)

 
B. Identification and Characterization of Earth Materials: Students will be able to apply the process, techniques, and tools for identification and classification of rocks, minerals and sediment samples, and to describe their physical and chemical characteristics.

 

C. Application of Skills:  Students will be able to apply their geologic knowledge of environmental geoscience-related issues, such as water supply, waste disposal, flooding, coastal engineering, resource development, landslides and earthquakes.   This includes locating and evaluating relevant data, information and resources via print and electronic media. 

 

III.  Communication Skills

 

A. Written communication:  Students will be able to write a technical paper about some aspect of environmental geosciences using the conventions accepted in the discipline.

 

B. Oral communication:  Students will be able to present the results of a project or investigation.

 

 

Performance criteria

Suggested course or program aspect

Environmental geosciences project

Physical Geology or Atmosphere and Oceans

Rock/ mineral/ or fossil identification log or project     

Rocks & Minerals or Historical Geology

Field work project (map and report)

Field Geology

Videotape or digital recording of oral presentation (or written evaluation by Earth Science faculty member)

Any ESCI course or student research symposium

Scientific paper OR paper/ project applying principles of Environmental Geosciences to another discipline.

Any 300-level major or minor course or community service project

 

 

 

Students will submit portfolios with examples of each of these projects, presentations, and papers. 

 

Faculty will evaluate portfolios and make recommendations for course and program improvements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


ESCI New Program Proposal 5

Assessment Plan (3/4)

 
 


Table of Goals, Outcomes and Performance Criteria for B.A. in Environmental Geosciences

Goals

Outcomes

Performance Criteria

1) Knowledge and Skills within the discipline:

I.  General Knowledge of the Field

a) Students will gain a strong foundation in geology with an emphasis on near-surface geologic processes.

A. Earth History:  Students will be able to describe the origin and evolution of the earth with respect to geologic change over time.

Successful completion of coursework and project in Historical Geology.

B. Earth System Processes: Students will understand global geological processes such as plate tectonics, climate change, the rock cycle, and the hydrologic cycle.  They will be able to describe the interactions between the lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere that affect and control these processes, especially in the context of geologic hazards and resources.

Successful completion of coursework in Atmosphere and Oceans, Physical Geology, Rocks and Minerals, and Geologic Structures and Map Interpretation.

Scientific paper OR paper/ project applying principles of Environmental Geosciences to other discipline.

C.  Hazards, Resources and Land Use:  Students will understand and be able to explain in non-technical language a) causes of geologic hazards and some strategies for mitigation of hazards; b) distribution, abundance, and use issues of earth resources (mineral, water, fuel); and c) effects of geology on human occupation of land as well as changes in surficial processes resulting from human occupation of land.

Satisfactory completion of Environmental Geology Project

b) Students will understand the process and application of gathering, synthesizing, and interpreting geologic data and observations. 

II.  Field, Lab and Research Skills

A. Map Interpretation:  Students will be able to interpret key elements of geologic and topographic maps and cross sections in order to assess the geologic factors which impact land use and hazards in a region.

Successful completion of field work project (map and report)

B. Identification and Characterization of Earth Materials: Students will be able to apply the process, techniques, and tools for identification and classification of rocks, minerals and sediment samples, and to describe their physical and chemical characteristics.

Satisfactory completion of rock/ mineral/ or fossil identification and characterization log or project     

c) Within the context of the accepted body of environmental geologic knowledge, students will be able to critically evaluate the validity of geologic data and interpretations from other people/sources.

 

C. Application of Skills:  Students will be able to apply their geologic knowledge of environmental geoscience-related issues, such as water supply, waste disposal, flooding, coastal engineering, resource development, landslides and earthquakes.   This includes locating and evaluating relevant data, information and resources via print and electronic media. 

Scientific paper OR paper/ project     applying principles of Environmental Geosciences to other discipline.

2) Communication Skills:

Students will be able to communicate effectively, primarily with a target non-technical audience, but also within the scientific community, about phenomena and issues related to environmental geosciences.

 

III.  Communication Skills

A. Written communication:  Students will be able to write a technical paper about some aspect of environmental geosciences using the conventions accepted in the discipline.

Scientific paper OR paper/ project     applying principles of Environmental Geosciences to other discipline.

B. Oral communication:  Students will be able to present the results of a project or investigation.

 

Videotape or digital recording of oral presentation from any ESCI course or student research symposium.

 

 

 

ESCI New Program Proposal 5

Assessment Plan (4/4)

 
 

 

 


Table of Goals, Outcomes and Performance Criteria for B.A. in Environmental Geosciences

Continued

Goals

Outcomes

Performance Criteria

3) Citizenship and Life-Long Learning:

Students will obtain the knowledge and skills needed for good citizenship - especially the ability to make informed decisions about land-use, resources and the environment and to continue life-long learning about environmental geoscience-based issues.

 

See II.C. and III. A and B.


Department of Earth Science

Department of Geography and Environmental Studies

Northeastern Illinois University


© 2005 Earth Science Department, Northeastern Illinois University.

Last updated  April 15, 2005.