What is Earth system science (ESS)? One of three tracks you may choose as part of a major in environmental science, ESS examines the structure and function of the parts of the Earth’s lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere and how these system interact with one another. This integrated science, which focuses on connections between these Earth system components, is at the heart of some of our most pressing physical science and nature-societal issues, including global climate change, water availability, and the loss of biological diversity.
Administered by the Graduate School of Geography, Clark’s ESS program emphasizes the patterns and processes across the Earth’s surface, both land and ocean, and will introduce you to earth sciences or geosciences. By using the tools of intensive field study, satellite remote sensing analysis, geographical information science (GIScience), and computer simulation, you’ll be able to understand, monitor, and predict Earth system behavior.
The environmental science major’s ESS track trains you for a wide range of careers, including more advanced studies in physical geography, such as landscape ecology, land-atmosphere interactions, hydrology, biogeochemistry, remote sensing, and GIScience.
Those who excel in the program may consider applying to Clark’s Accelerated B.A./Master of Science in Geographic Information Science (GIScience).
The Earth system science track of the environmental science major requires the completion of 17 courses:
- Three core courses — Earth System Science, Environmental Science and Policy: Introductory Case Studies, and Introduction to Biology I, each of which provides an overview of one of three areas of focus in environmental science
- Two basic skills courses
- Four introductory Earth system science courses
- One GIScience skills course
- Four advanced Earth system science courses
- Two human-environment courses
- One capstone experience
Use this form to plan your course of study and also to keep track of your progress towards completing the major requirements (updated May 2018): ESS advising sheet
During your junior year, you could be accepted into the School of Geography’s honors program. You’ll choose a topic and work closely with a professor on an honors thesis. For more information, read the school’s Honors Program Guide.
Opportunities Beyond the Classroom
Environmental science/earth system science majors have multiple opportunities to gain knowledge, skills, and experience outside of the classroom. Learn more about opportunities for: