Earth Sciences Courses

Only want to take one class with a focus on sustainability rather than a minor or major? You can still take a variety of courses within the curriculum that also count towards General Education Credit, Issues credit, or may be required within your major.

For updated information of course listings and descriptions visit the Course Catalog


GEO 100 - Environmental Geology

The relationship between people and their physical geological environment. Topics include geologic hazards, hydrology and human health, mineral and energy resources, and land use planning. Primarily for non-science majors; not for Geology or Earth Science majors. Lectures and field trips. Fulfills Foundation - Physical Sciences. (3-0-0) Offered each semester and in summer. 3 cr

GEO 103 - Oceans

Scientific investigation of the oceans and interactions among ocean, atmosphere, and lithosphere. Introduction to the chemistry of seawater, physics of water movement, coastal processes, geological oceanography, changes in the oceanic system through geologic time, and the role of oceans in Earth’s geologic evolution.

GEO 105 - Living with the Great Lakes

Introduction to Earth Science using the Great Lakes as a theme and Lake Michigan as a natural laboratory. Review of the Lakes’ geologic setting, origin, and history; climatology and lake levels; physical processes including erosion; water chemistry as a function of geology; human interactions with the Lakes. Lectures and field trips. Fulfills Foundation - Physical Sciences. (3- 0-0) Offered in fall semester and in summer. 3 cr

GEO 111 - Exploring the Earth

Introduction to the study of Earth materials and processes, including minerals, rocks, mineral deposits, weathering, erosion, volcanism, and mountain building.

GEO 202 - Hydrosphere for Teachers

Introduction to how the hydrosphere works emphasizing a descriptive approach. Includes river, groundwater, glacial, ocean, and shoreline systems and human interaction with those systems.

GEO 203 - Water for K-8 Teachers

Introduction to how the atmosphere works emphasizing a descriptive approach. Includes daily, seasonal, and long-term changes, weather patterns, and relationships between human activities and the atmosphere.

GEO 300 - Geology and the Environment

Detailed examination of interactions and connections between people and their geologic environment from an Earth Systems perspective. Using case studies and current events, students investigate complex environmental processes and issues related to the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. Students will reach and defend decisions concerning personal, corporate, and governmental actions. Fulfills one of the Issues requirements; not included in the Geology/Earth Science major or minor. (3-0-0) Offered winter semester. Prerequisites: Junior standing and completion of Natural Sciences Foundation. 3 cr

GEO 320 - Geomorphology

The patterns and genesis of landforms with emphasis on fluvial processes, climatic factors, and environmental implications. Independent study project or research paper required. Lectures, laboratory, and field trips.

GEO 360 - Earth Resources in Transition: Conventional to Sustainable

Exploration of transition from conventional to sustainable earth resource issues, technologies, and science. Focuses on one, or a combination, of earth resources: water, energy, or earth materials (minerals and metals). Topics may include water
resources, treatment and usage; oil and gas origins, exploration, recovery, and refining; mining and metals recovery.

GEO 425 - GIS in Geology

Applied geographic information systems (GIS) in geology. Students already familiar with GIS will learn advanced skills and apply GIS skills to specific geology problems in hydrology, field mapping, mineral and land resources, water quality, and other
topics based on student interest and background.

GEO 445 - Introduction to Geochemistry

Topics include crystal chemistry (nuclear/solid-state chemistry), water geochemistry (kinetics) and mineral stability (thermodynamics).


GPY 100 - Physical Geography

Explores the spatial patterns between landforms, natural systems of flora and fauna, and climate. Designed to increase awareness of the physical environment, its landscape, controls, and processes, and the interrelationships of natural phenomena.

GPY 101 - Sustainability and Place

The concept of sustainability holds that the social, economic, and environmental factors within human communities must be viewed in the context of their geographic locations. Strategies and decisions for sustainable development require understanding of the spatial patterns of human-environmental interactions, scale, and place. GPY 101 provides important place based perspectives on sustainability. Course offered every semester.

GPY 209 - Introduction to City and Regional Planning

An introductory course for people interested in careers in planning and public administration. The course explores the relationship between the goals of a community and the techniques needed to implement long-term and sustainable strategies. Fulfills one of the Issues requirements. Offered fall semester. 3 cr

GPY 235 - Geography for a Changing Worlds

A survey of geography followed by an examination of specific geographic concepts. Physical, cultural, economic, and related factors will be given more emphasis than place-name geography. Fulfills Foundation - Social and Behavioral Sciences. Fulfills Cultures - Global Perspectives. Offered every semester.

GPY 310 - Land-use Planning 1 3.000 Credit hours

This course deals with the fundamental concepts, principles, strategies, and tools of city and regional land use planning. The focus is on the real-world and sustainable land use planning process and implementation. Offered winter semester.

GPY 312 - Urban and Regional Environmental Planning

An introduction to the urban planning strategies that help towns and cities to preserve, restore, and even capitalize on their natural resources. This course investigates threats to clean air, water, and healthy ecosystems in our communities and examines solutions in the form of governmental policies, green designs, and urban inventiveness. Cross-listed with ENS 312 and PA 312. Offered winter semester of odd-numbered years.

GPY 314 - Land-Use Planning Law 1 3.000 Credit hours

This course surveys federal and Michigan statutes relevant to planning. It provides a background of federal and Michigan statutory land use controls. Awareness and understanding of these statutes is essential when executing existing land use and planning policies or when altering or proposing new land use and planning policies. Course is cross-listed with PA 314. Offered winter semester of even-numbered years.

GPY 316 - Introduction to Transportation Planning

This course is an introduction to transportation planning. It explores the planning, land use and policy implications of city and
regional transportation as it relates to urbanism, energy use, public health and safety, sustainability and economic
development. Offered winter semester of odd-numbered years. 3 cr

GPY 324 - Urbanization

Examines the process of urbanization and its impact on various cultures and its long-term comprehensive sustainability. Considers the dynamic growth of urbanization in third world countries and the significant increase in global urbanization, emphasizing the evolution of cities over time, space, and vastly different social, political, and cultural environments. Fulfills Cultures - Global Perspectives. Fulfills one of the Issues requirements. Offered fall semester. 3 cr

GPY 335 - Globalization and Development

Development involves positive and negative social, political, economic, cultural, and environmental changes for people living in a region or a country. GPY 335 explores the complex geography of the processes associated with development and in particular global development. Offered winter semester. 3.000 Credit hours

GPY 350 - Geopolitics, Energy, and Environment of Russia and Eurasia

This course examines the unique role of Russia and Central Eurasia in the world’s energy, water, and food security and many global geopolitical processes of the 21st century. With its complex ethno-cultural composition and vast deposits of oil, gas, coal, and uranium, this region is strategically important for the US. Fulfills Cultures - Global Perspectives. Part of the Globalization Issue. Offered winter semester.
Prerequisite: Junior standing.

GPY 361 - People, Environment, and Development in the Amazon

This course explores natural resource use and human settlement over time in the Amazon Basin, from early tribal societies to the present. Topics include extractive economies, trade in animal and forest products, conservation and development initiatives, and the changing demands for resources in urban centers of Amazonia today.

GPY 362 - A Geography of World Agriculture and Farmers

A geography of the world’s agricultural practices and development at different scales, from traditional methods to industrial agriculture with an emphasis on farming societies. Topics include indigenous agriculture and crop domestication, agroforestry and plantation systems, land use and rural societies, export crops, aquaculture and livestock, and drug cultivation. Fulfills Cultures - Global Perspectives. Part of Globalization Issue. Offered fall semester. Prerequisite: Junior standing. 3 cr

GPY 363 - World Forests and Their Use

A geography of the world’s forests and their use, from traditional to industrial practices over space and time. Topics include the local, national and international exploitation of forests, forest societies, foods, fuel and medicines, timber, protected areas, and the challenge of sustainable forest use in different regions and environments. Fulfills one of the Issues requirements. Offered fall semester. 3 cr

GPY 381/481 - Sustainable Urban and Regional Planning in the Netherlands

Of varying focus, the course makes use of the history, culture, and society of a host country in order to highlight disciplinary perspectives in context. To be taught in that country (or countries) as part of an approved study abroad program. By permit only. Credit may vary.

GPY 410 - Landscape Analysis

Landscape analysis is a broadly interdisciplinary study that includes concepts and methods of sustainable physical/human geography, ecology, planning, and architecture. It includes the biophysical and societal causes and consequences of landscape heterogeneity, processes and evolution. Conceptual and theoretical core of this course links natural sciences with related human disciplines.

GPY 412 - Global Environmental Change

The main theme of this course is the changing nature of our environment and human-environmental interactions. Topics include climatic fluctuations, environmental reconstructions, the interaction between humankind and the environment since
the prehistoric times, and human-induced environmental change of the last century at the global, continental and regional scales. Cross-listed with ENS 412. Fulfills one of the Issues requirements. Offered winter semester. Prerequisites: GPY 100 or BIO 105. 3 cr

Page last modified August 12, 2019