KSC Geology Department

Keene State College

Department Overview

Geology is the study of the Earth and its environs. It is primarily concerned with deciphering the processes which have operated on and within the Earth in the past, shaping and forming the Earth as we know it today. Geologists study the Earth's past history, as well as present-day processes acting on the Earth, in order to better understand what the future might hold for us. The Earth really is a dynamic, "happening" place, with continual and complex interaction among the Earth's many systems, including those of the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere, as well as the biosphere and the external solar system. The relationships of these Earth processes to humankind is at the core of many contemporary issues. A full understanding of the Earth system and its processes requires a multi-disciplinary approach based on detailed field observations and including the collection, interpretation, and application of quantitative geochemical and geophysical data.

Clearly the science of Geology has always and will continue to play important roles in the identification, evaluation and protection of energy, mineral, and water resources; in the assessment and mitigation of natural hazards; in the assessment and remediation of human impacts on the environment, and in the mitigation of potential future impacts. These are all important, even necessary, contributions to our society. "Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice" (Anonymous). In addition, the science of Geology also plays a fundamental role in helping to meet our human desire to understand our origins and our place in nature.

Smoke Holes
Dr. Bill instructing students on a GEODES field trip to the Smoke Holes, West Virginia, May 1994

The goal of the KSC Geology program is to teach students about the methods of scientific inquiry and about the Earth, its materials, processes and systems, and thus about appropriate stewardship of the Earth and its resources. We wish to develop in students an appreciation for the uniqueness of our home planet and foster their wonder of the natural world. We promote strong relationships among students and faculty that emphasize creative and critical thinking, scholarship and research, and a passion for learning, with a commitment to service.

Ogunquit Beach
Dr. Allen
with introductory students on a field trip to the beach, October 1993

Geology is a field science, which means that the fundamental observations upon which our questions are based, and often the observations that make up our experiments, are observations which are made out in the field, studying the rocks and landforms of the Earth in their natural habitat. Within the Geology curriculum, we have tried to emphasize the integration of detailed field observations (albeit mostly qualitative in nature) with "big picture" tectonic and earth-system syntheses. We also strive to involve all our students in progressive, level-appropriate, student-centered, inquiry-based, active participatory learning experiences that engage them in authentic scientific process, ultimately preparing them for independent and student-faculty cooperative research.

Vermont Outcrop
Dr. Nielsen, nose to the grindstone, Structural Geology field trip to northern Vermont, April 1993

Our graduates may pursue advanced degrees in earth or environmental sciences; or seek employment with environmental, hydrogeologic and engineering consulting firms, energy and mineral resource companies, or state and federal geological surveys. Those choosing the teacher education option are prepared for certification as Earth Science teachers in secondary schools. Geology students are equally well prepared for other careers in which a liberal arts and sciences education is beneficial, such as in elementary education, business, law or medicine.

Last modified 2/22/2001