2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Earth and Life


Fall 2012, Winter 2013 and Spring 2013 quarters

Clarissa Dirks biology , Abir Biswas geology, earth science, biogeochemistry
Fields of Study
biology, chemistry and geology
Preparatory for studies or careers in
biology, geology, earth science and environmental studies.

Geologic changes throughout Earth's history have strongly influenced the evolution and development of all life on earth. This year-long interdisciplinary program in biology and geology will examine the development of our planet and the cycles and transformations of matter and energy in living and nonliving systems. Students will gain an understanding of biological and physical Earth processes on a variety of scales. We will study basic concepts in earth science such as geologic time, plate tectonics, earth materials, nutrient cycling, and climate change. Living systems will be studied on the molecular, cellular, organismal and ecosystem levels, emphasizing the strong connections between biological and geological processes.

Fall quarter will introduce students to fundamental principles in geology and biology by studying early Earth history and evolution. In winter quarter, we will investigate systems that highlight how earth processes support life. In spring quarter, students will use this background to engage in projects. Field trips will be an integral part of this program, allowing students to experience the natural world using skills they learned. Each quarter, program activities will include: lectures, small group problem-solving workshops, laboratories, field trips and seminars. There will be opportunities for small groups of students to conduct hands-on scientific investigations, particularly in the field. Students will learn to describe their work through scientific writing and presentations.

This program is designed for students who want to take their first year of college science using an interdisciplinary framework. It will be a rigorous program, requiring a serious commitment of time and effort. Overall, we expect students to end the program in the spring with a solid working knowledge of scientific and mathematical concepts, and with the ability to reason critically and solve problems. Students will also gain a strong appreciation of the interconnectedness of biological and physical systems, and an ability to apply this knowledge to complex problems.

Boating down the Colorado River though the Grand Canyon while conducting field work is a great way to learn about geological and ecological processes. All students in the program will participate in field work though only a select few (approximately 14 students) will be able to participate in the Grand Canyon river trip. For the river trip, students will be selected through an application and interview process. The expense of this trip is often prohibitive ($1,700 plus airfare to and from Las Vegas); however, alternative less expensive options for independent projects will be available so that all students gain hands-on research experience in the field.  

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
Spring has three options: $1,700 for a two-week trip to the Grand Canyon; $450 for field research expenses in Arizona; or students may remain in Olympia and complete field research locally.
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
February 14th, 2013 Spring now open to new students with conditions listed.