Princeton University Freshman Seminar FRS149 & FRS145

Earth's Changing Surface & Climate (2007-2009)


What came after? Earth's Environments & Ancient Civilizations — in Cyprus (2011-2013)

The surface of Earth today, an amalgamation of mountain ranges, basins, and the hydrosphere, records an integrated history of processes that act on a range of time scales spanning seventeen orders of magnitude. The central question treated in this Freshman Seminar is: How does Earth's surface evolve in response to internal (e.g., tectonic and magmatic), surficial (e.g., weather, climate, and anthropogenic effects), and external (e.g., extraterrestrial) forcing? This Freshman Seminar provides you with practical experience making geological and geophysical observations, and in particular, focuses on quantitative analysis of observables such as topography, gravity, and weather. The classroom seminar is complimented by a mandatory week-long field trip to the western United States. During this trip, you will develop research projects that involve geological and geophysical mapping of the interplay between recent volcanic explosion craters, changing climate, and anthropogenic demands on water resources in the Mono Lake region. This seminar is not a comprehensive introduction to the geological sciences, but rather a look at a select few processes of import to understand changes to the Earth's surface in space and time. While certain fundamental principles of geology are explained in class and through reading assignments, the emphasis is on how you can be a natural scientist with a background of nothing but high school math and physics, a keen observational sense, a knack for spatial and quantitative analysis, and a careful and precise way with words.

Department of Geosciences Professors Adam Maloof and Frederik Simons developed this course together with Prof. Em. Bob Phinney, a veteran of the Freshman Seminar program.

View the ad for the 2009 edition
Download the 2009 course brochure Acrobat PDF file or view it as a slideshow.

Student Work

Student poster from the 2009 edition: Team Dune Acrobat PDF file
Student poster from the 2009 edition: Team Treerings Acrobat PDF file
Student poster from the 2009 edition: Team Volcano

Student poster from the 2008 edition: Team Crater Acrobat PDF file
Student poster from the 2008 edition: Team Trees Acrobat PDF file

Student projects from the 2007 edition (slideshow)

Student Feedback


Frederik Simons
Last modified: Wed Jan 22 10:23:01 EST 2014