Earth scientists face a wide range of challenges today: contaminated water supplies, ravaging storms, dwindling energy supplies, and global climate change.
Solutions to these challenges demand creative new approaches at the interfaces of the sciences, so earth science studies at Hampshire involve geologists, hydrologists, biologists, mathematicians, and many others.
Right from the first semester, Hampshire's School of Natural Science engages students deeply in interdisciplinary problem solving.
Earth science students at Hampshire take advantage of courses both on campus and throughout the Five College consortium, studying various aspects of geology that range from glacier melting and climate change to chemistry and volcanology.
In this course students will investigate issues in environmental earth science and examine how society interacts with earth processes and resources. This course emphasizes a hands-on, field- and lab-oriented approach. Class discussions and weekly projects introduce the major concepts and techniques of earth science (geology), environmental sciences, and resource management. Students will learn to observe, pose questions, build hypotheses, and develop answers through field research and quantitative data analysis. Students will often be given complex problems and asked to figure out for themselves how to collect data and work toward solutions. Through local field trips, we will explore the history of our planet, and earth-shaping processes such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and erosion. By learning how our planet evolves, students can then evaluate the current state of the earth and solutions to environmental ills.
Five College Geology Program
The Five College Geology Program provides a rich array of events and resources for Hampshire students. It sponsors several guest lecture series during the academic year, an undergraduate student research symposium in the spring, and field trips to exciting geological destinations such as Death Valley, the Grand Canyon, and Iceland (program-sponsored trips are subsidized to keep student fees as low as possible).
Recent lectures offered through the Five College Geology Program include: "CO2 Climate-Glaciation linkages During the Late Paleozoic Icehouse-to-Greenhouse Transition," "Humans as Agents of Erosion and Sedimentation: A Geologic Perspective," and "Ascent of the Dinosaurs."
Field and Lab Research Equipment
Hampshire College has an array of earth science field and lab research equipment, including complete GIS (Geographic Information Systems) facilities with the latest software from ESRI installed on high performance computers. Using state-of-the-art GPS units and an extensive library of recent and historical aerial photos and maps, students are building a growing digital database of Hampshire's natural resources, including maps of trails, soils, wetlands, and wildlife sightings.
Hampshire students have access to the Five College geology departments' state-of-the-art equipment and resources, including stable isotope mass spectrometers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, X-Ray diffractometers at Mount Holyoke College, high-pressure diamond anvils at Smith College, and a geophysical/hydrological field station. A wide range of geology and the earth sciences are available through the Five Colleges. Hampshire students frequently join field trips and research projects with Five College colleagues.