Environmental Science

Undergraduate Program in Earth System Science

Earth System Science (ESS) examines the structure and function of the parts of Earth's lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere and how these systems interact with one another. This integrated science, which focuses on connections between these Earth System components, is at the heart of some of our most pressing physical science and nature-societal issues, including global climate change, water availability, and the loss of biological diversity.

Clark's ESS program emphasizes the patterns and processes across the Earth's surface (to include both land and ocean) serving as an introduction to Earth Sciences or Geosciences. Intensive field study, satellite remote sensing analysis, geographical information science (GISc), and computer simulation are all used as tools for understanding, monitoring, and predicting Earth System behavior. The ESS track of the Environmental Science major trains graduates for a wide range of professional endeavors as well as more advanced studies involving physical geography, to include landscape ecology, land-atmosphere interactions, hydrology, biogeochemistry, remote sensing, and GISc.

Comparison with Geography and other Environmental Programs at Clark

Earth System Science (ESS) is unique from other geographic and environmental science majors and concentrations at Clark partly by emphasizing scales from ecosystems to landscapes and the globe, as well as by examining relationships between biological and physical processes. In comparing ESS to the other ES tracks, keep the following in mind:

  • ESS examines biological and physical processes at scales from ecosystems to landscapes, all the way up to the planetary scale (e.g. climate). The Environmental and Conservation Biology (ECB) track of the Environmental Science major focuses on genetics to organismal scales and processes. The Environmental Science & Policy (ES&P) track concentrates on the technological, management or policy solutions to problems of resources, health, and pollution.
  • The ESS concentration differs from Clark's Global Environmental Studies (GES) major and the Human-Environment track of the Geography major because both of these programs are social science entries into environmental issues, not programs of study focusing on the biological and physical processes regulating ecosystems and the broader Earth System.
  • Majors in ESS not only develop strong biophysical training in Earth System Science, but also in analytical remote sensing and GIScience tools that pervade this arena of science and prepare students for careers in the field.

Earth System Science Core Faculty

Karen Frey, Ph.D.
Climate change, Arctic environments, land surface hydrology, remote sensing, GIS
Email: kfrey@clarku.edu

J. Ronald Eastman, Ph.D.
Geographic information systems, remote sensing, and cartography
Email: reastman@clarku.edu

Dominik Kulakowski, Ph.D.
Ecology and Biogeography, Rocky Mountain forests, sub-alpine forests of Europe
Email: dkulakowski@clarku.edu

John Rogan, Ph.D.
Landscape ecology, fire ecology, remote sensing, GIS
Email: jrogan@clarku.edu

Christopher A. Williams, Ph.D.
Land surface hydrology, ecosystem ecology, hydroclimatic variability and change, global water and carbon cycles
Email: cwilliams@clarku.edu

Advising sheet for ESS

Use this form to plan your course of study and also to keep track of your progress towards completing the major requirements (updated May 2018):
ESS advising sheet (PDF)