On Discovering New Interests
One of my favorite parts about Dartmouth is how open the academic environment feels. Since we don't declare our academic program until sophomore year, first year Dartmouth students have the world at our fingertips in terms of departments we're able to explore. After not getting a class I elected, I decided to take an Earth Science class on a whim, and now I'm planning on going on the Earth Science foreign study program and majoring or minoring in the department.
The Earth Science class that I'm taking is called Evolution of Earth and Life (EARS2) and focuses on the geologic processes that led to life as well as the interactions between the physical processes of the Earth and the biosphere. Over the course of 10 weeks, we've traversed across 14 billion years of geologic time, learning about the creation of the universe and the solar system, the geological history of the Upper Valley, plate tectonic theory, biogeochemical cycles, dinosaurs, and climate change.
Taking Earth Science has totally changed the way I look at the world, which is super exciting since I'm just now starting. It's been so cool to link the content we've been learning about in class to the natural geologic features of the Upper Valley like rocks and mountains. For example, in class we talked about how the Upper Valley was covered by the Laurentide ice sheet during the last ice age. As the glacier retreated, the Upper Valley became a glacial lake with what is now the Dartmouth Green covered by around 120 feet of water. So many of the natural features of the Hanover area have such a fascinating history tied to the last ice age, which has been super interesting to explore!
My experience with the Earth Science department is a huge testament to the power of the liberal arts curriculum offered by Dartmouth. Before taking EARS 2, I never considered that I would be interested in geology but learning about how our surroundings are marked by the telltale signs of Earth history is so exciting to me—sort of like a scavenger hunt that I never considered until I learned it was there.