BASc in Earth and Planetary Science Communication

A Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc) in Earth and Planetary Science Communication is a unique degree that combines communications skills with a strong background in science.

Is this degree for you?

If you are interested in space exploration, earthquakes, floods, and climate change and have a passion for storytelling and communicating information, consider our BASc program in Earth and Planetary Science Communication. This new program is a partnership of the department of Earth Sciences, the department of Geography and Tourism Studies, and the department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film. This unique program aims to give you a solid understanding of the geologic processes operating on the Earth and other planets as well as developments in planetary exploration. In addition, you will graduate with a strong background in communication for a range of careers in Science Communication.

Career opportunities

With a solid understanding of Earth and Planetary Science and the ability to communicate effectively in a variety of formats, you can pursue careers in a variety of fields, including:

Governments at all levels as well as NGOs rely on the communication of environmentally important information. That communication needs to be accurate and must include explanations of complex scientific issues that are accessible to the general public, particularly for policymaking.

Companies involved in larger sensitive projects need employees to manage communication with stakeholders.

Resource companies will increasingly have to address environmental issues and build bridges with local communities. This work requires sensitivity but also understanding of both mining and environmental issues and the ability to communicate effectively.

A small sector right now, commercialization of space will increase the need for science communicators in the near future.

Careers can range from freelance contributor to staff contributor/editor in a variety of organizations and formats.

Duration and admission

At the completion of the four-year program, you will have a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences (BASc) in Earth and Planetary Science Communication.

To be admitted to the program, in addition to English (ENG4U), you will need any 2 of:

  • Advanced Functions (MHF4U)
  • Calculus and Vectors (MCV4U)
  • Mathematics of Data Management (MDM4U)
  • Grade 12 Computer Science (ICS4U)
  • Biology (SBI4U)
  • Physics (SPH4U)
  • Chemistry (SCH4U)
  • Earth and Space Science (SES4U)
  • Environment and Resource Management (CGR4M)
  • Geomatics: Geotechnologies in Action (CGO4M)

Program highlights and goals

Our program is unique. It’s the only one in Canada that combines knowledge of Earth Science with communication skills in a single four-year undergraduate degree. As a graduate, you will understand the science behind important modern issues such as global climate change, space exploration, and planetary resources. You will develop the skills to participate effectively and successfully in the discussions and debates surrounding science in a variety of fields and industries. It will enable you to pursue careers in communication roles for government agencies, NGOs, private companies, and journalism.

You will take the same courses as Earth Science and Communications majors. The first 2 years provide fundamental background knowledge in both disciplines. In the senior years, you can choose courses in your areas of interest and participate in collaborative projects.

In year 4, you can combine your scientific knowledge and communications skills. The fourth-year communication courses address more specific concerns about the environment and media, film and ecology, and data science. In a capstone course, you will complete a supervised project on a topic in the media format of your choice.

The overall goal of this degree is to prepare you with extensive knowledge about the Earth and planetary sciences and the skills to communicate well and create positive relationships between organizations and stakeholders. After graduation, you will be able to work effectively in various roles and positions within science policy debates and developments in a wide range of settings, including governments, NGOs and private companies.

Program learning outcomes

The ability to understand the broad fields as well as key concepts in Earth and Space Sciences, such as the formation of the Solar System, Planetary Evolution, Plate Tectonics, Geological Time the History of the Earth.

Knowledge of the role of multiple theories that played a prominent role in the development of our current understanding of Earth and Space Sciences.

The development of critical thinking skills and the ability to assess the limitations and flaws within scientific studies, both inside and outside the discipline.

Ability to understand and evaluate the different approaches necessary to solve problems in Earth and Space Sciences.

Ability to find, review, and summarize established and new knowledge in the Earth and Planetary Science field, and develop lines of argument accessible to the general public to increase understanding of the state of current research and complex issues.

Ability to convey evidence and arguments effectively in a variety of media formats, including written, visual graphic, video, and social media.

Awareness of the limitations of scientific studies, using geological time scales to apply to events occurring on the human time scale.

Ability to exercise initiative, personal responsibility and accountability, work effectively within a team, remain informed on latest developments in the field of study, and behave consistent with academic integrity and social responsibility.

Meet some of the professors

Duncan Koerber

Duncan Koerber is an Assistant Professor of Communication, Popular Culture and Film. Duncan’s research focuses on the teaching of writing skills and the theory of crisis communication. In crisis communication, he is particularly interested in understanding why public crises develop in social media, and why social media crises have become so common and so damaging to organizations’ images and people’s careers. He also studies media and journalism history.

Mariek Schmidt

Mariek Schmidt is a Professor of Earth Sciences at Brock University and a geologist who studies igneous and volcanic rocks on both Earth and Mars. She has been involved with three different Mars rover missions over her career and is currently a Canadian Space Agency-supported Participating Scientist on the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission. She uses geochemical and microscopic imaging data of rocks analyzed by rovers on Mars to infer magma petrogenesis, volcanic emplacement, and aqueous alteration. She also studies volcanic fields on Earth, including in New Mexico, Oregon, Hawaii, and Iceland by utilizing rover analogous methods to decipher environmental, volcanic, and alteration histories.

Kevin Turner

Kevin Turner is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Tourism Studies and co-founder of the Water and Environment Lab at Brock University. The focus of his research program is identifying the response of northern landscapes to changing climate. His lab group integrates analyses of remotely sensed (e.g., satellite and drone-acquired) data with in-situ ground and aquatic measurements to inventory change and associated downstream impacts. Communication of key findings is increasingly important as climate continues to change.

High School Award

If you are interested in this program and willing to showcase your skills, please check back here in September for details of our high school award.

Contact us

For additional information simply email earth@brocku.ca and we’ll get back to you.