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From Geoscience to Earth, Energy and Environment: a multidisciplinary approach to earth sciences 

By Kimberly Taylor, September 25 2023—

The Department of Geoscience is now named the Department of Earth, Energy and Environment. In an interview with the Gauntlet, Department head Dr. Edwin Cey emphasized that this is more than a name change or a rebrand for the department. Instead, it marks a shift in focus toward integrating the disciplines of earth, energy and environment.

“It’s a lot more than just a name change. The name change is one part of it. We are also integrating other key components, and that’s the energy and the environment piece that now comes into that name,” said Cey. “It’s truly an integration of all these pieces together and trying to make it a more multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary program for our students.”

Cey said that previously, energy was a concentration within the program and so has been quite small. The department is looking to grow that piece and amplify the multidisciplinary areas that have already existed within the department.

“One of the goals for us is to expand the energy science piece and to grow that program,” said Cey. “It was the right time to merge them and give these other programs, these multidisciplinary programs that were already truly multidisciplinary, but give them a home in a department that hopefully  strengthens and amplifies those voices that are already there.”

Cey said this change has been in development for several years with broad consultations involving students at all levels, faculty, alumni, staff, government members, community members and industry. With multidisciplinary teams being the norm in the workforce, he believes there is a need for students to be prepared to work within the boundaries of disciplines. One of the goals of this change is a better student experience.

“At the end of the day, our goal is to provide a better student experience and by that I mean something that allows students to explore and discover, take them where their interests area, that’s more inclusive and diverse, we’re really looking to do that, that’s truly multidisciplinary that allows students to explore those boundaries between disciplines where I think the real advances in science are being made. As well at the same time giving them a sense of belonging and connection, to each other, to the department, as well as the broader community.”

Connecting science and research to the broader community is one of the goals of the department and one of the drivers behind the modernization of the curriculum and programs offered in the department.

“One of our goals is to make sure that at all times the science that we do is relevant: relevant for our students, relevant to the community around us and to the partners that we work with on that science,” said Cey. “That’s really one of the directions we would like to go in the future, is to look at how we impact the community around us. 

“We’re looking to solve some of the challenges that are facing us, everything from locally here in and around Calgary, all the way to global challenges, and even beyond. We have people working on Mars already,” Cey continued. 

Cey said there was a great deal of creativity in the department, and that these changes will support faculty and students in working at the boundaries of their disciplines to support that creativity.

“They have so much energy and enthusiasm and they want to find solutions. They are really creative,” said Cey. “We have a lot of creative thinkers on campus, students, faculty, and staff. To see that on a day-to-day basis is fantastic. One of our goals is to break down silos and barriers between departments.”

The department will continue to modernize the curriculum going forward and introduce a work-integrated program for students. Cey said that the department is taking its strengths as a leader in the Geoscience area and broadening that to other disciplines to tackle the urgent challenges.

“For us, it’s all about the challenges that are out there. I hear from students that there seems to be a lot of gloom and doom about all the difficulties, and there are major challenges out there, but I think there are solutions and I think teaching the next generation of students about science and technology is all about trying to find those solutions,” said Cey.

The department is hosting an unveiling night, Earth @ University of Calgary on Sept. 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at MacEwan Hall A & B. There will be a career fair, panel discussion, as well as food and activities. All students from any department are welcome to come and learn more.

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