Learn about the strategic goals of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, as well as our five departments and three research units, that serve to guide our decision-making as we train future leaders and advance earth, energy, and materials sciences and engineering.
The mission of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences is to advance knowledge, talent and leadership to elucidate Earth processes and history, harness and sustain natural resources and materials, and develop novel solutions to major challenges in energy, environment and wellbeing. We continue a strong tradition of building deep disciplinary expertise along with interdisciplinary teams that focus on the interfaces of the natural science, social science, and engineering disciplines, where answers to the most pressing problems facing society await discovery.
At the heart of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences is a spirit of community, engaging our students and alumni in all that we do, seeking always to create a culture of inclusivity and belonging for all, while reaching out to industrial, governmental, and community partners to identify important problems and design solutions.
The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences is a vibrant, inclusive community of faculty, staff and students driven by curiosity to unlock how Earth's systems, energy and materials interact with one another and society. Our vision for the future is that EMS is where convergence happens; where students learn to plumb the depth of their chosen field while integrating their understanding across disciplinary boundaries to discover and innovate; where our faculty increasingly translate their scientific discoveries into practice, improving people's lives; where our staff, with a strong sense of belonging, support those efforts and find new solutions as challenges arise. Together with our alumni, friends, and stakeholders, we will be creating a sustainable and inclusive future for society.
The college subscribes to the Penn State Values in addition to our college values.
Penn State Values
- INTEGRITY: We act with integrity and honesty in accordance with the highest academic, professional, and ethical standards.
- RESPECT: We respect and honor the dignity of each person, embrace civil discourse, and foster a diverse and inclusive community.
- RESPONSIBILITY: We act responsibly, and we are accountable for our decisions, actions, and their consequences.
- DISCOVERY: We seek and create new knowledge and understanding, and foster creativity and innovation, for the benefit of our communities, society, and the environment.
- EXCELLENCE: We strive for excellence in all our endeavors as individuals, an institution, and a leader in higher education.
- COMMUNITY: We work together for the betterment of our University, the communities we serve, and the world.
- SAFETY AND WELLBEING: We strive to be University leaders in safety in all settings, including workplace, lab, fieldwork, and classroom striving to ensure the wellbeing of our faculty, staff and students.
- INCLUSIVITY: We prioritize fostering a diverse and equitable community in which each member knows that they belong here and is inspired to succeed.
- SUSTAINABILITY: We strive to model sustainability practices in all aspects of EMS, including our daily operations, and we embrace the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a context for the salience of our mission.
- LEADERSHIP: We strive to be recognized as ethical, unbiased, honest, credible, and collaborative leaders in all aspects of discovery, application, and dissemination of knowledge through our research, education, outreach, service, and daily operations.
- AGILITY: We advance our longstanding tradition of relevance and bolster our resilience by effectively anticipating and adapting to change in the disciplines we encompass, in the needs of our stakeholders and partners, and in the societal challenges we address.
The world is in transition, and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences is in transition as well. Basic research continues as the cornerstone of innovation, while our faculty and staff actively pursue the translation of research discoveries and advances to the direct benefit of society, including engagement with local, state, national, and international stakeholders. Interdisciplinary research remains the hallmark of EMS, and its importance is elevated in a world in transition. The ways that we collaborate and the tools that we use to further our mission are also changing, and we need to create new spaces to support these novel approaches. As we manage these transitions, we need to sustain and expand our leadership position, at the University and beyond, drawing upon those attributes and traditions that make EMS great: agility, creativity, interdisciplinarity, collegiality, inclusivity, and an unwavering focus on quality. In all that we do, the safety and wellbeing of our community must be a precondition for excellence.
Global climate is changing, and society is responding through mitigation and adaptation; among those measures is a shift from a reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy. Now more than ever, a deep knowledge of the Earth system and its human dimensions, including the impacts of climate-related extreme events, of the integration of energy systems, renewable and non-renewable, of energy and environmental risk management, and of the sources and pathways of utilization of raw and recycled materials for innovative technologies are needed to guide planning for a sustainable future.
The transition to the information era has been rapid and continues to accelerate, presenting new tools and opportunities for research and education in artificial intelligence, quantum materials and computing, and big data analytics. Through immersive experiences, we can explore data in new ways and increase the accessibility of our field expeditions and training.
Global population is increasing, and in the United States, a predominant white majority is being replaced by a more diverse population, while issues of racial, social, and environmental justice rise in prominence. Now more than ever, the connections between environmental and social change, human health, food supply, education, and economy need to be revealed and the vulnerabilities they create addressed. As we strive for a more healthy, diverse, equitable, and inclusive college, we support efforts outside the University to achieve these same objectives.
Educational modes and pedagogy are also transitioning from a lecture-dominated, content-focused approach to a more engaged mode of instruction, both inside and outside the classroom. We are experiencing an increased use of high quality, intentionally designed online modalities for resident and distance instruction and a focus on transferable skills, often gained through beyond-the-classroom engagement. Our students have an increased focus on their future careers and look for guidance and training that helps them achieve those career objectives. We need to help support student progress toward on-time degree completion by offering excellent academic advising to avoid unnecessary cost and loan burden and do so while maintaining a healthy mind and body.
These transitions demand a new, innovative strategic plan for the college, one that stays true to our mission, manages our own transitions, and guides those of our stakeholders. The plan is centered on four principal goals:
- Promote curricular and co-curricular innovation to grow active, engaged and competency-based learning with a focus on career readiness.
- Build a more diverse, equitable, compassionate, and inclusive community of scholars, where members share a sense of belonging, and respect.
- Perpetuate and expand the role EMS plays as innovator and leader in signature initiatives at the University and beyond
- Improve operational resilience and critical infrastructure for research, educational, and outreach initiatives
Each of these goals is supported by several objectives and realized through action items that engage our entire community of students, faculty, and staff in advancing knowledge, talent, and leadership in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.
Lee R. Kump
John Leone Dean in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
Goal 1: Support student life-long success
Promote curricular and co-curricular innovation to grow active, engaged and competency-based learning with a focus on career readiness.
- 1.1: Enhance undergraduate curriculum and engagement experiences to empower students to solve important societal problems and to provide them with the knowledge and skills needed for the modern workforce.
Key Performance Indicators: Sustained increase in the number of students having exposure to sustainability, global competency, data literacy, business acumen, and social justice principles in their classes or engagement experiences.
- 1.2: Complete the restructuring of the EMS Academy for Global Experience (EMSAGE, a program with three stages—protégé, practitioner and laureate) to increase and broaden participation, enhance student engagement, and act as a driver of equity.
Key Performance Indicators: Increased percentage of student body participating in EMSAGE; increased percentage of underrepresented minority (URM), first-generation, and high-need students achieving Laureate status and gaining competency in the engagement growth areas defined by the Penn State Student Engagement Network.
- 1.3: Identify and reduce barriers to time to degree and retention, and examine the overall degree completion rate for EMS undergraduate majors.
Key Performance Indicators: Targeted actions taken to address any identified barriers to time to degree, retention, and overall degree completion rate for EMS undergraduate majors, resulting in a reduction of median time to degree and a greater percentage of matriculating students completing their degree with EMS.
- 1.4: Increase career readiness of students through greater student engagement and alumni mentoring opportunities, greater communication of their experiences, and greater coordination with career services.
Key Performance Indicators: Increase percentage of student body participating in engagement experiences and the alumni mentoring program; increased percentage of student body participation in the annual Celebration of Undergraduate Engagement (CUE); increase placement of students in internships and first jobs; increased percentage of students responding to post-grad survey.
- 1.5: Increase research training opportunities and access to institutional resources to promote scholarly activity.
Key Performance Indicators: Increase EMS graduate degree student enrollment to 900 by 2025; at least 70% of research trainees (postdocs, graduate students and undergraduate students conducting research) are satisfied with research training, mentoring practices, and access to institutional resources, by 2025.
- 1.6: Develop new processes and resources to support adoption of Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) methods in EMS curricula.
Key Performance Indicators: Course review and revision processes created; all online courses reviewed and improved if necessary; increased percentage of faculty and staff participating in CQI professional development.
- 1.7: Grow first-year enrollments and increase the diversity of the student body at both University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses through targeted recruiting in Pennsylvania, neighboring states and the District of Columbia, and greater use of virtual events and summer programs. Increase outreach to students in the Division of Undergraduate Studies at both University Park and the Commonwealth Campuses to recruit them to our majors.
Key Performance Indicators: Increased number of students from targeted recruiting efforts and from within Penn State. Incoming first-year enrollments of 300 students at University Park and 100 at the Commonwealth Campuses by 2025. Increased diversity of student body.
Goal 2: Diverse, equitable, inclusive communities
Build a more diverse, equitable, compassionate and inclusive community of scholars, where members share a sense of belonging, and respect. Foster inclusive excellence. Reinforce Equity in our policies and practices. Encourage all faculty, staff, and students to have a personal responsibility to engage in efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).
- 2.1: Create a sense of belonging across the College community.
Key Performance Indicators: Improved responses on measures such as our Assessment of the Living, Learning and Working Environment in EMS (ALLWE), Penn State Community Survey, and other relevant studies, particularly in relation to key action items.
- 2.2: Increase recruitment, hiring, retention, and success of female and underrepresented minority (URM) faculty, and postdocs, and URM staff.
Key Performance Indicators: Increased number and percentage of female and URM faculty (tenure track and fixed term), staff, and postdocs; no gap in retention rates between URM faculty and white faculty and between women and men faculty.
- 2.3: Increase recruitment, enrollment, retention, and success of female and URM students at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Key Performance Indicators: Increased number and percentage of women and URM undergraduate and graduate students; increased retention rates; increased graduation rates; reduction of performance gaps.
- 2.4: Foster diversity, inclusivity, and student engagement within and beyond the curriculum.
Key Performance Indicators: Improvement in results from upcoming inclusion climate surveys (Penn State Community Survey etc.); ensure all EMS students are exposed to opportunities for deepening their understanding of and experience with DE&I in contexts such as issues in STEM, professional development, etc.).
- 2.5: Reflect on and improve policies and practices to ensure equity for underrepresented minority, women, and other diverse faculty and staff.
Key Performance Indicators: Increased capacity, supported by administrative policies, practices, and procedures, for diversity, equity, and inclusion actions and equitable outcomes.
Goal 3: Global leadership in signature initiatives
Perpetuate and expand the role EMS plays as innovator and leader in signature initiatives at the University and beyond.
- 3.1: Increase EMS contributions to research, education, and outreach for comprehensive, human-centered solutions to Grand Challenges and Sustainable Development Goals for energy, environment and materials.
Key Performance Indicators: Established an upward trend on the number and value of funded proposals and awards that are large-scale, interdisciplinary, and ambitious in scope by 2025; created incentive programs promoting interdisciplinary research, education and outreach activities related to Grand Challenges and sustainability; examples of EMS contributions to Penn State Signature Initiatives.
- 3.2: Provide the roadmap for energy transition.
Key Performance Indicators: Development of an efficient and effective plan to achieve the CO2 reductions goals related to EMS activities by 2025; increased number of funded proposals for activities that reduce and/or offset GHG emissions and increase energy efficiency; increased number of partnerships established with external organizations focused on energy transition; increased number of relevant publications, invention disclosures and patents.
- 3.3: Advance implementation-science in climate change research and become the nexus of climate science research at Penn State.
Key Performance Indicators: Established an upward trend on the number and value of funded proposals and awards on climate science by 2025; increased number of research collaborations formed across departments and colleges on climate science; expanded research infrastructure to conduct these activities.
- 3.4: Advance data analytics, uncertainty quantification, artificial intelligence, and predictive science.
Key Performance Indicators: Progressive increase in scholarly output in data analytics, uncertainty quantification, and predictive science by 2025; upward trend on the number and value of funded proposals and awards; grow research cyberinfrastructure for computational and data science.
- 3.5: Grow EMS impact on economic development through innovation and technology.
Key Performance Indicators: Demonstrated examples of broader societal impacts made possible by EMS contributions in energy, minerals, and materials.
Goal 4: Operational resilience and infrastructure
Improve operational resilience and critical infrastructure for research, educational, and outreach initiatives.
- 4.1: Grow, renew, consolidate and transform EMS physical space to be energy efficient and carbon neutral.
Key Performance Indicators: Increased investments made and donor support to transform EMS critical infrastructure; physical infrastructure that exceeds the carbon footprint and sustainability goals defined by Penn State.
- 4.2: Expand our safety-centric culture and foster a positive attitude towards health and safety.
Key Performance Indicators: EMS college-wide is recognized the campus leader in health and safety based on external evaluations and health and safety record; safety culture perception surveys; reduction in near misses and reported accidents.
- 4.3: Increases awareness and knowledge about sustainability challenges.
Key Performance Indicators: Increased number of sustainability-focused educational programs; increased participation in sustainability-focused educational programs; increased faculty and staff participation in sustainability practices and efforts (e.g., Green Teams).
- 4.4: Expand Business Continuity Planning and Emergency preparedness planning.
Key Performance Indicators: Increased involvement of faculty and staff in Business Continuity Planning; increased number of emergency preparedness planning activities (e.g., training, consultations, drills).
- 4.5: Enhance the level of employee engagement within the College.
Key Performance Indicators: Increased staff satisfaction as reflected in a successor survey to ALLWE.
- 4.6: Develop IT Support for Research, Learning, and Outreach Activities.
Key Performance Indicators: Improved support for data analytics, modeling, and computationally intensive applications by 2025.
Our Department and Institute Strategic Plans
- John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering
- Department of Geography
- Department of Geosciences
- Department of Materials Science and Engineering
- Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science