Students conducting research on a boat.
Program Overview

Geosciences

Explore Earth and the environment, build a better future.

Photo credit: Rachel Eveleth

Geoscientists are storytellers and problem-solvers

The field of geosciences applies tools from throughout the sciences to understand how our planet and the environment work, and how they have changed through time. At Oberlin, geoscience students explore fundamental questions of earth, environmental, and planetary science while applying a range of methods to address pressing contemporary questions such as climate change, natural resource development, environmental restoration and their relationships to social justice. Through a blend of laboratory, computational, and field research, our students build a deep understanding of the Earth and develop skills they can apply in a variety of careers including education, government, and environmental consulting.

Community in the Laboratory and in the Field

Oberlin’s Department of Geosciences is a welcoming family of curious minds from diverse backgrounds. In addition to coursework, geoscience students have the chance to do original research with a faculty mentor in one of our many laboratories and to travel to sites as varied as Lake Erie, China, Cuba, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and more. Regardless of whether we are doing geoscience in the classroom, in a laboratory, or in the field, our department prides itself on an ethos of friendship, support, and inclusion.

100% of students have the opportunity to engage in mentored research or internships

Earth Science in the Laboratory

From geochemical laboratories to computational modelling, Oberlin’s geoscience students work with faculty in the lab to better understand the environment and our planet.

Students looking at graphs displayed on computer monitors.
New Zealand is the top study abroad choice among geology majors

Featured Courses

GEOS 120

Earth’s Environments

A survey of Earth’s internal and external features, emphasizing the unifying theory of plate tectonics as well as the study of geologic hazards and Earth resources. Labs and field trips explore Earth materials, local field sites, landforms, and interactions between humans and Earth’s surface. The course is intended for both non-majors and prospective geology majors. All students must enroll in the lecture section plus one lab section in the same semester.

Taught by
Rachel Eveleth, Amanda Schmidt
FYSP 026

The Anthropocene: Human Actions, Global Consequences

Have human activities changed our planet enough that we now live in a new geologic Epoch: the Anthropocene? In this seminar, we will place our impact on the planet in the context of its history through readings and discussion on topics including: deep geologic time, geochemical signals of natural and human activity, the nature of scientific thinking and discourse, and our place in our planet’s history.

Taught by
F. Zeb Page
GEOS 210

Oceans and Climate

We live on the Blue Planet. This course will examine ocean and climate dynamics central to the functioning of the Earth system. Using publicly available data, scientific literature and historical accounts, students will investigate both natural processes over geologic time and human interaction with the planet during the Anthropocene. Topics include feedback cycles, ocean and atmosphere circulation, sea water chemistry, heat and carbon fluxes, sea level rise, polar dynamics, and climate change. Labs will focus on data analysis and provide an introduction to coding in Python.

Taught by
Rachel Eveleth
GEOS 335

Interdisciplinary GIS & Cartography

Geographical Information Systems are used to analyze spatial data, tackling real-world problems through the lens of mapping. The class will use GIS software and hands-on activities to explore social injustices in urban planning, environmental hazards and disasters, problems related to climate change and renewable energy, and more. Students will use data visualization principles to communicate to a variety of audiences. This course is accessible to students from a variety of academic backgrounds and experience levels. No prior experience with GIS, geosciences or computer science is needed.

Taught by
Clara Margaret Flood ’18

Student Profiles

Nexial Prize Recipient

Monica Dix ’20, a geology and politics double major, was awarded the 2020 Nexial Prize. Dix’s passion for both earth science and policy sparked her interest in the prize, which emphasizes the value of a broad-based liberal arts education.

Monica Dix.

Educating in Death Valley

Marcus Hill ’19 was a geology major and promoted the major as a geology student representative. After graduation, he worked alongside seasoned park rangers helping to run education programs for elementary school students.

Marcus Hill.

Fulbright to Germany

Geology and history double-major Elena Robakiewicz ’16 was awarded a Fulbright grant for research in Germany. Robakiewicz will conduct her research in Tübingen, where she will work with professors who study paleolake (or ancient lake) data in order to better understand early human migration patterns.

Elena Robakiewicz.

Upcoming Geosciences Events

What does Geoscience at Oberlin look like?

A group of students with a beautiful sunset in the background.

Mineralogy (GEOS 201) students enjoy a sunset in the Adirondacks after a long day in the field.

Photo credit: Zeb Page
Siccar Point, Scotland.

Oberlin students visit Siccar Point, Scotland, one of the most famous sites in the history of geology as part of the Danenberg Oberlin in London Program.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Oberlin College
Nicollette Mitchell, Kopo Oromeng, Marcus Hill, and Shannon Banks.

Nicollette Mitchell ’13, Kopo Oromeng ’17, Marcus Hill ’19 and Shannon Banks ’19 earned top prizes for their research presentations at the National Association of Black Geoscientists annual conference.

Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97
Emily Bermudez and Zoe Hecht.

Emily Bermudez ’21 and Zoe Hecht ’21 start a geochemical analysis in the gamma-counter.

Photo credit: Michael Hartman
Justin Bank and Lab Crawl visitors.

Justin Bank ’21 demonstrates ultra-violet fluorescent minerals as part of a Lab Crawl visit.

Photo credit: Jennifer Manna.
Renée Milligan.

Renée Milligan ’22 shows off tiny marine fossils as part of Lab Crawl.

Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Next Steps

Get in touch; we would love to chat.


Carnegie Building.
Photo credit: Yevhen Gulenko