Global environmental systems students characterize and analyze Earth's physical environment across time and space through the study of physical geography. This 12-credit certificate helps to prepare students for a variety of careers in resource management, ecological restoration, and climate change mitigation where an understanding of geographic patterns and physical processes associated with water, landforms, soils, vegetation, and climate are critical for the survival of life on planet Earth. Learning Objectives: Identify, describe, and analyze the processes that lead to spatial variation on Earth's surface, and the current and historical, physical and biotic processes that shape specific landscapes.
Physical geographers seek to understand Earth’s environmental systems and processes and their interactions with human activities across spatial and temporal scales. Geographers in this concentration conduct field and laboratory work and use geospatial technologies to explore and model environmental phenomena such as vegetation and wildlife, wetlands ecology and management, landscape dynamics, climate systems, and global environmental change. Some topics of study include the burning of fossil fuels and emissions of greenhouse gasses and particulates into the atmosphere, natural gas fracking and earthquakes, river diversion and dam construction, groundwater withdrawal and land subsidence, urbanization and the “heat island” effect, land clearance and deforestation, irrigated agriculture, wildland fire, the introduction of invasive species, and coastal overdevelopment.
Students earning the certificate in Global Environmental Systems are well-positioned to find employment with diverse organizations spanning business, government, and nonprofit sectors.