Geo/Physical Sciences Department - Mission Statement

Mission Statement

Consistent with the mission of the University, the Geo/Physical Science faculty is committed to excellent teaching in a challenging yet cooperative atmosphere.   Students utilize scientific methods and hypothesis testing as a way of understanding the natural world.   Moreover, they explore the distribution and interaction of natural and human systems on global, regional and local scales.   A large part of the learning is experiential and steeped in investigation in order to teach essential content knowledge and skills in critical thinking and problem solving.   Hands-on experiences in the laboratory and the field bring together theory and application, contribute to scholarly development, and prepare students for a range of careers.   As members of the global scientific community we value leadership, a culture of sustainability, lifelong learning and promotion of science as a way of knowing.

Furthermore, we recognize the indispensable role that the study of nature has in a liberal education, not only in acquiring knowledge and skills (in particular skills of quantifying and physical intuition), not only in exercising reason, indeed, not only in fostering a spirit of inquiry, but also in educating the whole person.   We seek to do this in a humane environment where individuals learn how to learn, both on their own and together with others.

Although the following was written of liberal education in general, the department subscribes to and supports the ideas expressed:

All significant education is self-education and if you are to get the kind of thing we are talking about, it will call for the best of your abilities and qualities--not only the capacity to know and think, but the desire to; not only a disciplined mind but an imaginative one; not only the will to do but the capacity to develop a love for it;  not only an open and adventurous mind but one capable of faith and commitment; not only a critical capacity but a creative one as well; not only a tolerant spirit but a generous one.   In other words, a liberal education is learning to love the right things, and the capacity for love is as important as the capacity to know.
Victor Butterfield, philosopher and educator