About Geology

Geology is the study of the Earth's materials and processes. It is a historical science, involving the study of active and ancient processes within and on the Earth, including the patterns of evolution of life. Geology is an exciting, multifaceted field of study comprised of many subdisciplines, and Mount Holyoke College is proud to continue its long tradition of maintaining a first-rate geology program.

Geology can be a very satisfying pursuit, and an extremely necessary one. In addition, Geology provides a familiar, tangible context for other scientific disciplines such as chemistry, physics, and biology. Thus, geology represents a mechanism for connecting non-scientists to the exciting "world of science" (pun intended). Certainly the most important role of geology will be played out in the future. As the earth's population increases, so will the demand on the earth's resources. Society will move into a global era of scarcity of resources. Water is already in critically short supply in much of the world. Energy resources and the environmental consequences of their use are bound to become even more urgent problems in the next few decades. Much of the world's population lives in regions where earthquake or volcanic risks are high. Sound public policy decisions about these issues require an adequate understanding of the earth, acquired through instruction in geology and geography.

The reasons for studying geology are as diverse as the discipline itself. A geology major opens many geoscience career opportunities in academia, government, and industry. These careers generally entail additional training beyond the bachelor's of arts degree. A geology major or minor is also an extraordinary liberal art in the sense that a liberal arts education provides a broad background of knowledge and literacy. Literacy implies that one can write clearly, coherently, and gracefully, as well as read with fundamental understanding, judge the merits of an argument, and appreciate complexities of thought and intent. True literacy also implies quantitative literacy: recognizing and evaluating various forms of quantitative argument, reasoning effectively with numerical information, and using modern computational techniques with skill. Through geology, students learn to discover and describe logical relationships that unify seemingly unrelated phenomena, and thus to find and appreciate simplicity, subtlety, and order in the complex natural environment.

Geology rewards its students with an awareness of the vital close connection between humans and the Earth. We are bestowed with a unique position in the history of an awesome planet. The study of geology is essential to the promotion of general human welfare, to the human spirit, and to survival in the next century.