Help drive new Earth system science and policy research to advance knowledge and develop
original solutions to global sustainability challenges.
Learn to generate rigorous scientific inquiry that bridges the gaps identified in
scientific knowledge. UND's Earth System Science & Policy Ph.D. combines theory with
practice, global and local perspectives, and scientific and social disciplines.
On Campus or Online
Est. time to complete:
Why earn an earth system science and policy Ph.D.?
Sustainability science seeks to meet the needs of society while sustaining the life
support systems of the planet. UND's Earth System Science & Policy Ph.D. program is
multidisciplinary and practical in nature. You'll have opportunities to become a high-level
researcher with the ability to generate new theories and knowledge. In addition, you
will gain research expertise to be able to critically evaluate and identify gaps in
The research, technical skills and expertise you'll gain can have a direct impact
on environmental policies and regulations, and sustainability progress.
UND's Earth System Science & Policy Ph.D.
Gain the skills to generate creative new solutions to Earth system and sustainability problems, and
to seize opportunities presented by a changing environment.
Prepare for a range of careers in industry, government agencies and higher education.
Generate rigorous and original scientific inquiry that bridges gaps in scientific
Synthesize and communicate research results with a dissertation, peer reviewed publications
and professional presentations.
Enhance your professional skills at 60+ free workshops offered through the UND School of Graduate Studies. Our goal is to provide you with
the workforce skills and job search strategies to succeed.
Study at a Carnegie Doctoral Research Institution ranked #151 by the NSF. Students
are an integral part of UND research.
Earth system and policy research is a fast-growing field. It offers those with high-level
graduate experience plenty of opportunity, especially considering today's environmental
and sustainability issues, and evolving government regulations. This Ph.D. program
offers the curriculum and research resources to prepare you for a successful career
UND graduates can expect exciting opportunities to a wide range of professions, including:
Earth system scientists
Environmental and geospatial consultant
Environmental project manager
Governmental agency careers
Chief environmental scientist
Earth System Science & Policy alumni have gone on to a variety of successful careers
Advanced Engineering & Environmental Services, Inc.
Human interactions with the Earth system are often managed through policy and science. This course will introduce students to concepts, ideas, practices, and challenges at the nexus of policy, science, and the environment. Students will examine the human dimensions of environmental problems and the different roles of policy and science in helping us address them. F.
ESSP 504. The Biosphere. 3 Credits.
The Biosphere (ESSP 504) introduces students to the concept of the biosphere as articulated by Vladimir Vernadsky in the 1920s and 1930s, and examines the concepts and roles of nutrient cycling, biodiversity, evolution, ecology, and ecosystem productivity on Earth. The overall course is framed around the Drake equation and walks students through critical steps in the formation of the solar system, habitable zones around stars, evolution and proliferation of life on Earth, the interconnected nature of inorganic nutrient cycling and ecosystem function, and human's impact on all these systems, culminating with the final variable of the Drake equation--the longevity of civilizations--and humanity's active role in the Anthropocene. F.
ESSP 505. Energy Issues and Earth Systems. 3 Credits.
This course is about contemporary complex energy issues. It gives an overview of energy history, the last century trends and the achievement in energy production. It also discusses energy systems and energy "linkages" with society. It then examines the pros and the cons of both fossil fuels and alternative fuels. Finally it considers the future of energy in low-carbon energy systems. F.
ESSP 506. Ecosystem Services: Valuing Nature in a Market Society. 3 Credits.
Analyzes the services and goods provided by natural and human-made ecosystems with a primary focus on the agroecosystems and grasslands of the northern Great Plains. Explores the scientific framework of ecosystem services, their disruption or disturbance, economic and ecological values, methods of analyzing these values, and policy implications. S.
ESSP 507. Earth Systems Processes and Vulnerability Analysis. 3 Credits.
Earth Systems Processes and Vulnerability Analysis (ESSP 507) will explore how humans exist on an active landscape. The course focuses on an understanding of the integration of the processes of physical Earth systems and the human vulnerability to hazards and Earth system syndromes related to these processes. The course also explores human vulnerability by analyzing spatial, numerical, and historical data, through spatial and statistical techniques. S.
ESSP 508. Hydrological Cycle in Earth Systems. 3 Credits.
Hydrological Cycle in Earth Systems (ESSP 508) will introduce the processes of the hydrological cycle in the Earth system. The course focuses on an understanding of fundamental chemical and physical properties of water and processes of water movement within the Earth system through physical, biological and human controls. The course also aims to help students develop an understanding of how the hydrological cycle interacts and affects the energy balance and biogeochemical cycle in the Earth system. S.
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