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EAPS Implementation New Courses, Concentrations

By Christopher L. Falling
Associate News Editor

The faculty Committee on the Curriculum approved a restructuring of courses offered in the department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at its meeting last week.

The changes will take effect next fall and will apply to new majors. Current majors will have a choice of which requirements they can fulfill, according to EAPS Educational Officer Daniel R. Burns PhD '86.

The department will offer three areas of concentration: geoscience, physics of atmospheres and oceans, and planetary science and planetary astronomy, Burns said. As part of the restructuring, the department also added 14 new undergraduate courses

EAPS currently has 29 majors and seven minors; optimistically, there could be as many as 5060 majors and 30 minors within three years due to the new curriculum, Burns said.

The core requirements for EAPS majors will also change; students must take two of five core classes. These classes are: Introduction to Geology (12.001), Physics and Chemistry (12.002), Physics of the Fluid Earth (12.003), Introduction to Planetary Science (12.004), and Chaos and Complexity (12.006).

Other new classes include four in geology, one in geophysics, and nine covering physics of atmospheres and oceans.

Focus on undergraduate program

There were once as many as 70 undergraduate majors in EAPS during the 1970s, due to the demand in the oil industry, but the number has steadily declined, Burns said. "In the past 10-15 years the department focused on graduate education; there was always a small undergraduate program," Burns said.

The department has been focusing more on the undergraduate program by running freshman advising seminars for about 10 percent of the freshman class this year, Burns said. The department has also tried to increase its exposure to students by holding IAP classes.

The new curriculum allows EAPS to provide students with an opportunity to major in applied physics or chemistry, in addition to the well established geoscience concentration, Burns said.

In a related area, the department is currently evaluating its five year master of science degree program to ready a professional masters degree plan for faculty approval in 1997, Burns said. "Right now we are talking with industrial sponsors and working on curriculum development so [the degree] will be geared to very specific carreer options," he said.

The degree would be centered around computational geosystems for computer modeling for use in the energy industry or environmental industry, Burns said.

"I anticipate that we may be the first department in the School of Science to establish a professional masters degree," Burns said. This would be similar to the Master of Engineering degree offered by many departments in the School of Engineering, he said.