Geology Major Will Become Degree in Earth and Environmental Science Next Fall

By Shana Tilley, Contributing Writer

As of fall semester 2017, the geology major will become the earth and environmental science major. Despite the change in title, the program will still offer and require all of the same courses as the present geology major. Students currently enrolled in the program will be grandfathered in, so their diplomas will still read “geology.”

The name is being changed in order to bring a larger selection of incoming students. Most high schoolers aren’t looking for geology and more recognize the term earth science, according to Dr. Mariella Passarelli, the head of the Natural Science division at UMF. “Every seven years we have a review of the majors. We compare them, we have internal measures. We have visitors from the outside, an expert.”

Changing the major’s name will hopefully provide a more unified department for the sciences, Passarelli says, “We recognize that we need to interact with each other. We need to unify.”

Passarelli thinks that the present geology majors have to realize a few things. “One, we cannot sacrifice the future for holding on to the past. I know that they are geologists, but we have to keep moving forward with what people are interested in,” said Passarelli. “Also, they need to see that we are in constant movement. We evaluate ourselves every seven years, if we did something wrong, we change it.”

Another reason for the change is to make the major more environmentally friendly. Being a chemist, Passarelli says she understands how some people look down on geologists for harming the earth saying, “I’m a chemist and you know what they say about those nasty chemicals.” Though when the geology students at UMF complained that geology was an important major to offer, Passarelli was confused by their objections, “I don’t know why they’re so sensitive to the topic.”

Sophomore geology major Sean Brock felt betrayed by the department for not involving the students in the decision to change the major. “If she really wanted us to be thought of as more environmentally friendly, then change the department name, not the major. If the major name changes yet the courses don’t, then that will create discrepancies with future employment.”

Brock feels that future employers will be confused when they see that a geology major takes the exact same courses as an earth and environmental science major. He emphasized, “I think that the graduates with this degree title will find that their potential employers will demand and/or expect more environmental courses. I think they’ll see the courses taken and they’ll know that they’re the same as a geology major and want to know the difference.”

Junior geology major, Brianna Leonard, thinks that geology is an important physical science that can open doors for people who may like hands on science but aren’t the right fit for the environmental science major. Leonard said, “Everyone with the geology major knows each other, it’s a sense of belonging. If you have a general broad earth science major, you lose that camaraderie.”

By this time next year, the earth and environmental science major will be offered to incoming freshmen and prospective students.