Earth and Environmental Sciences

Major in Earth and Environmental Sciences

From climate change to water pollution, humans are altering natural systems in complex and unexpected ways. Understanding human impacts to these natural systems requires interdisciplinary analysis of complex problems. Earth and Environmental Sciences is a multi-disciplinary field that addresses the interactions between humans and the environment. Study in this field includes an understanding of the basic principles that govern geological, biological and chemical interactions, as well as development of solutions to current environmental problems.

About The Program

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Virginia Wesleyan is designed to provide a solid foundation in the earth sciences as well as supporting coursework in chemistry, biology, and physics. In addition to mastering concepts, students will receive hands-on skills to include field methods, laboratory techniques, GIS (geographic information systems) and research.

Majors: Earth and Environmental Sciences (BA, BS)
Minors: Earth and Environmental Sciences, , Marine Science

Chair: Dr. Elizabeth Malcolm
School: Joan P. Brock School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Why Study at VWU?

Accelerated degree options are available which allow students to receive a Bachelor’s degree from Virginia Wesleyan and a master’s degree from a partner institution in five years. Current accelerated degree options for our majors include a Master of Forestry or Master of Environmental Management from Duke University and a Master of Engineering specializing in Environmental Engineering from Old Dominion University.

Master of Forestry or Master of Environmental Management from Duke University
The Cooperative College (3-2) Program allows students to proceed directly from three years of undergraduate study at Virginia Wesleyan University to two years of study at Duke University's Nicholas School's Master of Forestry (MF) or Master of Environmental Management (MEM) program.

Master of Engineering specializing in Environmental Engineering from Old Dominion University
The Pre-Engineering Program offers students the opportunity to earn both a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Wesleyan University and a Master's degree in Environmental Engineering from Old Dominion University.

Earth and environmental sciences majors are offered the opportunity to conduct original scientific research in an area of interest. They work closely with a faculty mentor to develop and conduct a research project, then present their findings during the University’s Undergraduate Research Symposium. Students are also encouraged to present their findings at a conference.

Internships are an intensive study of a specific field of science through an on-site field experience with professional mentors. Past internship sites have included:

  • NASA
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Virginia Department of Environmental Quality
  • Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center

EES 375: Topics in Tropical Biology

Description: An intensive field experience in neotropical ecosystems (coral reef, rainforests, a cloud forest, mangrove swamps, etc.) that links ecological phenomena with social and historical factors to examine the conservation of biodiversity. Field activities require moderately strenuous exercise and considerable hiking. The course is open to both science and non-science majors.

ENVS 283: Seminar in Alaska: Sustainability

Description: The majestic landscape of southeast Alaska provides the backdrop for this field-based course and allows hands-on exploration of the complex relationships between people and environments. "Live the text" as you learn about climate change while walking on a retreating glacier, study the life cycle of salmon while rafting the Chilkat River, identify plants and animals during a hike through a temperate rainforest, and discuss ancient and contemporary concepts of sustainability with native Tlingit people.

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Virginia Wesleyan graduates who earn a degree in earth and environmental sciences pursue careers in diverse areas such as environmental consulting, secondary education in earth science, environ­ mental education and outreach, and governmental agencies. In addition, graduates can pursue graduate studies in the areas of oceanography, meteorology, geology, environmental sciences and environmental engineering.