Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 10:45 AM
UNDERGRADUATE CURRICULA FOR THE 21ST CENTURY AT THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY
Modern undergraduate degree programs are critical elements of a successful geoscience program. Over the last decade at Penn State University, we have designed several new programs that train students for a competitive and changing job market. In addition, programs at the boundaries of disciplines help us attract students who would not consider our traditional Geoscience BS degree. A rigorous Earth Sciences BS degree program tailored to students with interests in education and environmental law has maintained steady numbers of majors over its six-year history. The degree incorporates course work from Geosciences, Geography and Meteorology, and requires completion of an interdisciplinary minor (e.g., Climatology, Marine Sciences, Global Business Strategies). In this presentation, we describe five new undergraduate and graduate degree programs that have recently received University approval. A new Geobiology BS program will attract majors with interests at the intersection of the earth and life sciences. The curriculum includes both paleontological and biogeochemical course work, and is also tailored to accommodate pre-med students. Research is a fundamental component of every student's degree program. We require a capstone independent thesis as well as a field program and encourage students to pursue research as early as the freshman year. A new 5-year combined BS-MS program will enable outstanding students to carry their undergraduate research further before pursuing employment or doctoral programs. New Astrobiology undergraduate minor and dual title graduate degree programs have been designed to educate students in this emerging field. Finally, a minor in Science, Society and the Environment of Africa focuses on the interplay between science, policy and society and will help recruit students from underrepresented groups.