UC Berkeley Department of Earth and Planetary Science creates climate science minor

Josh Kahen/Staff

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The UC Berkeley Department of Earth and Planetary Science, or EPS, approved the climate science minor, focusing on the basic physics and biogeochemistry of the Earth’s climate.

Spearheaded by EPS associate professor William Boos, this minor provides students with a fundamental understanding of climate science while maintaining a flexible approach to the curriculum. The climate science minor incorporates courses from the EPS major’s six major tracks.

“It’s becoming hard to be a student nowadays and to be getting your degree in urban planning or engineering or environmental studies or any of a number of things and not be touched in some way by the changes that are happening in Earth’s climate,” Boos said.

The initiative began summer 2019 in collaboration with other faculty members, including EPS professors Inez Fung and David Romps, according to Boos. While there are many majors relevant to climate science, professors recognized the need for a minor in the science that governs climate, according to Boos.

Students interested in the minor are expected to take one lower division course and a minimum of five upper division courses, according to a press release. The Energy and Resources Group, geography department and civil and environmental engineering department offer upper division courses, with EPS offering both lower and upper division courses.

The minor intends to prepare students for applicable careers and graduate programs in relation to climate science, according to the press release. Students from many disciplines can also apply the minor to their future careers.

“We recognized a need for the people who are majoring in other things to obtain a background in climate science,” Boos said. “If you were working on Capitol Hill, you would probably be the expert in the room on what governs climate and the basic science of climate.”

According to Boos, the minor is designed to enable flexibility in the courses students can take. It also takes a broad scientific approach, which allows students to take different directions, including anthropogenic climate change and geochemistry.

Science and engineering majors have overlapping prerequisites with those needed for the climate science minor, but all majors are encouraged to apply, according to the press release. Boos noted that information sessions about the minor will be announced within the next month with students being able to apply within the next week.

“Climate issues will dominate the 21st century, and so will the efforts to address the causes and impacts of climate change,” said geography professor and adviser John Chiang in an email. “There is a lack of awareness of just how serious the problem is and how it will impact our lives in the future.”

Contact Maxine Mouly and Shylie Ati at [email protected].