Overview and Learning Goals


Faculty and students in the Department of Earth and Oceanographic Science (EOS) at Bowdoin investigate fundamental questions about our planet’s past, present, and future. We sample rocks, sediments, and shells to reconstruct Earth’s geologic history and past climates; collect water and deploy sensors to discern patterns in properties and processes in the Ocean; and use satellites and scanning electron microscopes to study Earth’s systems, from global to microscopic scales. From tracking how a harmful algal bloom develops along a coastline to learning how supervolcanoes form deep within Earth, studies in EOS open up a world of possibilities.

Learning Goals

EOS majors:

  1. Gain fluency within and ability to integrate among earth systems by focusing on surface earth processes, solid earth processes, and oceans
  2. Observe records and interpret processes in time and space
    1. from the surface of Earth to the core
    2. from atomic to global spatial scales
    3. from instantaneous to billion-year time scales
  3. Describe components and their relationships and behaviors within systems (e.g., pools, flows, and feedbacks)
  4. Recognize and communicate the connections between earth systems and society, including human impacts on Earth, natural hazards, and Earth’s resources
  5. Learn and apply EOS methods, including:
    1. Asking questions/defining hypotheses
    2. Making field- and laboratory-based observations
    3. Collecting and analyzing data
    4. Mapping
    5. Graphing
    6. Modeling
    7. Understanding uncertainty
    8. Reading and synthesizing literature
    9. Communicating: writing/presentation
  6. Transition from guided to self-driven and reflective learning
  7. Work collaboratively with peers with varied backgrounds and skill sets

Options for Majoring or Minoring in the Department

Students may elect to major in earth and oceanographic science or to coordinate a major in earth and oceanographic science with digital and computational studies, education, or environmental studies. Students pursuing a coordinate major may not normally elect a second major. Non-majors may elect to minor in earth and oceanographic science.

Department Website

This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue