The Earth and Environment track follows a stepwise approach to understanding the complexities of the Earth system. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the environmental and earth sciences, the phenomena studied often connect to topics discussed in courses across the different departments of University College Utrecht.
The first and second level courses focus on learning theoretical concepts and skills important in the environmental sciences (i.e. environmental modelling) and earth sciences (i.e. four-dimensional thinking to reconstruct earth system dynamics from geological maps). In the upper level course you will apply this knowledge by developing predictive models for ecosystem dynamics, by developing strategies to combat current societal problems arising from inappropriate resource management, and by using classical economic geology to obtain insight in technological solutions assisting sustainable resource management.
For the more mathematically inclined students, the track also offers a physics-based course that focuses specifically on the climate system. In addition to the regular courses offered during the spring and fall semesters, multiple opportunities for learning practical skills are offered within the track.
Specifically, every year 1-3 lab courses are offered within the Track as well. The specific topics of the lab courses change between years, depending on on-going research in the Faculty of Geosciences at Utrecht University. Past topics include Paleoecology, Carbon storage of deciduous forests, Geological modelling, Global land use for Sustainability Science and Eutrophication of Dutch grasslands. Practical and theoretical skills can be developed further during the thesis project. Field research opportunities are regularly available, either at research groups within the Faculty of Geosciences (to be explored by students at their own initiative), or within University College Utrecht’s Caribbean field research programme, for example.
Examples of recent thesis topics (and institutes where the research was conducted):
- Behavioural changes in European bison due to exposure to Konik horses (Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University)
- Paleomagnetic intensity of Hawaiian lava flows (Paleomagnetism group, Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University)
- Mitigation of Greenland Ice sheet melt (Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, Utrecht University).
- Optimizing the output of solar panels placed on residential roofs in Utrecht (Physical Geography group, Department of Earth Sciences, Utrecht University)
- Origins of debris found on the pocket beaches of Aruba (University of Aruba/University College Utrecht field research programme).