Interdisciplinary Studies in Climate Science

Students can now work with faculty in the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences to complete an Interdisciplinary Studies major in Climate Science.

Climate change is currently impacting global environmental and ecological systems, human health, water availability, agricultural systems and food security, human migrations, and economic systems. Future climate change is projected to further worsen food security, water scarcity issues, human migrations, and global conflict rates are likely to increase.

This major is designed to give the students a solid foundation on how the climate system works and competency in areas of data analysis, planning and mitigation, and science communication. Students will work with a group of faculty to build a curriculum that consists of the following core and complementary course requirements. Elective courses are taken in areas of sustainability and planning, statistics, data science, advanced climate science, or science visualization, among others.


Interested students should contact Dr. Kristie Franz or call 515-294-1837.


Core Curriculum

GEOL 100How the Earth Works3
or GEOL 101Environmental Geology3
GEOL 100LHow the Earth Works: Laboratory1
MTEOR 140Climate and Society3
MTEOR 206Introduction to Weather and Climate3
MTEOR 301General Meteorology3
GEOL 324Energy and the Environment3
MTEOR 490F* Ocean/Atmosphere Interactions (number to change in future)3
MTEOR 404Global Change3
GEOL 415Paleoclimatology3
MTEOR 452Climate Modeling3
GEOL 483Environmental Biogeochemistry3
JLMC 347Science Communication3
or ENGL 309Proposal and Report Writing
STAT 305Engineering Statistics3
or introductory statistics plus STAT 301
Total Credits37


Required Supporting Courses

MATH 165Calculus I4
CHEM 163College Chemistry I4
or CHEM 177General Chemistry
CHEM 163LGeneral Chemistry Lab I1
or CHEM 177LLaboratory in General Chemistry I
PHYS 111General Physics I5
PHYS 112General Physics II5
Total Credits19



A minimum of 18 credits of electives at the 300/400 level are needed to meet the requirements of the Interdisciplinary Studies degree. Students should work with their faculty advisors to identify an appropriate set of electives that meet the student’s professional objectives and interests.
Electives can be taken across a number of topics, however, we strongly recommend students choose to take a series of electives within at least one specialty area.


Advanced Climate Science Area

  • AGRON 406 (World Climates, 3 credits)
  • GEOL 402 (Watershed Hydrology, 3 credits)
  • GEOL 411 (Hydrogeology, 4 credits)
  • GEOL 452 (GIS for Geoscientists or other advanced GIS course, 3 credits)
  • GEOL 468 (Applied Geostatistics for Geoscientists, 3 credits)
  • GEOL 474 (Glacial and Quaternary Geology, 3 credits)
  • GEOL 479 (Surficial Processes, 3 credits)
  • GEOL 489 (Survey of Remote Sensing Technologies, 3 credits)
  • MTEOR 227 or Geol 559X (or other computer programming course, 3 credits)
  • MTEOR 341 (Atmospheric Physics, 3 credits)


Sustainability, Design and Planning Area

  • ARCH 451/551 (Whole Building Energy Performance Modeling, 3 credits)
  • ARCH 558 (Sustainability and Green Architecture, 3 credits)
  • CRP 251 (Fundamentals of GIS, 3 credits)
  • CRP 291 (World Cities & Globalization, 3 credits)
  • CRP 293 (Environmental Planning, 3 credits)
  • CRP 301 (Urban Analytical Methods, 4 credits)
  • CRP 351 (Intermediate GIS or Geol 452, 3 credits)
  • CRP 449 (Geodesign, 3 credits)
  • CRP 455/555 (Smart Cities, 3 credits)
  • CRP 457/557 (Geogames for Civic Engagement, 3 credits)
  • CRP 484 (Sustainable communities, 3 credits)
  • CRP 492 (Planning Law, Administration and Implementation, 3 credits)
  • CRP/SUSE 550 (Making Resilient Environments, 3 credits)
  • LA 270 (Foundations in Natural Resource Policy and History, 3 credits)
  • LA 282 (Landscape Dynamics, 3 credits)
  • LA 522 (Advanced Plant Technology, 3 credits)
  • SUSE 501 (Sustainable Design in Communication, 5 credits)
  • SUSE 521 (Foundation of Sustainable Design, 3 credits)


Science Visualization Area

  • ARTGR 281 (Visual Communication and Branding, 3 credits)
  • ARTIS 212 (Studio Tundamentals: Computers, 3 credits)
  • ARTIS 308 (Computer Modeling, Rendering & Virtual Photography, 3 credits)
  • ARTIS 473 (Video Art, 3 credits)
  • ARTIS 475 (Interactive Art, 3 credits)
  • BPMI 327 (Illustration as Communication, 3 credits)
  • LA 211 (Digital Design and Methods for Landscape Architecture, 3 credits)
  • LA 454 (Fundamentals of Remote Sensing, 3 credits)
  • LA 557 (Landscape Parametrics and Design Coding, 3 credits)
  • LA 567 (Advanced GIS Landscape Modeling, 3 credits)


Additional elective options have been identified in Data Science, Statistics, Anthropology, World Languages and Cultures, International Studies, Agronomy, Economics, Political Science, among other topics. To earn this Interdisciplinary Studies major, students must also meet the general education and graduation requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.