Water Resources

Water is essential in so many ways: supporting human life, aquatic ecosystems, energy production, transportation, and cultural traditions.   Effective water management requires balancing a wide range of goals and stakeholders within both a policy framework and a geographic context.  This requires a deep appreciation for connections across climate, the physical environment of watersheds, geology, land use, economics, and culture.  The Ship Geography-Earth Science Department works to build these skills for the next generation of successful resource managers.

Water resource specialists work in a range of professions from local to national-level government agencies, private consulting, and non-profit organizations.  These professions will continue to be in demand as we face water management challenges as a result of climate change, land development, pollution hazards, and population growth.  

Here at Shippensburg University, students interested in water resources can take a range of courses addressing water both in its physical condition and in its geopolitical context.  In our hydrology course students investigate the source, movement, quality, and distribution of water resources across local, regional, and global scales.  Hydrologists develop the quantitative skills to address today’s water management challenges.  Our hydrogeology course addresses critical aspects of the flow, quality, and quantity of groundwater, a resource that supports half of our human population.   In the water resources management course, we investigate the policy and regulatory institutions addressing today’s challenges via a series of regional case studies. 

Students may take these courses within the Geoenvironmental Studies or Sustainability majors or toward a minor.  As part of their course work, students will visit and study the conditions of our local watershed (Burd Run) with field sites easily accessed from campus.  This stream has been the subject of numerous Shippensburg student and faculty studies and continues to be an important resource for research and education.

Visit the Burd Run Interdisciplinary Watershed Research Laboratory



Earth Science Courses (ESS)

ESS 108 Introduction to Environmental Sustainability
Introduction to environmental conservation. Basic elements of the physical environment are examined in consideration of the interaction between physical and human landscape systems. Emphasis on fundamental relationship of society to agricultural, hydrologic, biotic, mineral, and energy resources. Factors of environmental quality and land use by society also considered.

ESS 220 Oceanography 
Comprehensive study of the ocean and surroundings. Main topics include origin of the ocean basins; water of the sea; physiography of the sea floor; plate tectonics; marine sediments; chemical properties of the sea; ocean circulation; waves, tides, beach, and shoreline processes; estuaries and life of the ocean. Prerequisite: ESS110 or ESS111 or CHM103 or permission of instructor.

ESS 442 Environmental Geology 
Deals with relationships between man and the geological habitat. Concerned with problems people have in using the earth and the reaction of the earth to that use in both a rural and urban setting. Stress placed on developing problem-solving skills in collecting, recording, and interpreting data through field investigations and simulation techniques. Prerequisite: ESS110.

Geography Courses (GEO)

GEO 105 Physical Geography
Studies way the basic natural phenomena of air, water, and ground mutually interact and the way in which these interactions vary from one part of the earth to another to yield different natural environmental regions. Two hours lecture/two hours lab/week.

GEO 226 Hydrology 
Presents basic concepts of hydrology with emphasis on the relationship of water to natural and human systems. Major topics include the dynamics of surface water flow, hydrogeology, water pollution, and water resources analysis.

GEO 404 Groundwater and Hydrogeology 
Examines the fundamental concepts of groundwater and hydrogeology in the context of real-world applications on the foundations of theory. Emphasis on the principles of groundwater flow, well installation, field data collection, and the analysis of physical and water chemistry as they relate to professional groundwater investigations. Grades based on exams and application-oriented assignments (problem sets). Required field trip(s) will supplement classroom material (field trip dates and times will be determined during class). Prerequisites: One or more of the following courses are suggested prior to enrolling in GEO404: ESS110 or ESS210, and GEO226 or permission of instructor.

GEO 440 Field Techniques
Studies geoenvironmental aspects of the local landscape by direct field observation. Various procedures and techniques are utilized to collect data concerning landforms, geology, soil, streams, air quality, population, transportation, housing characteristics, and land use. Instruments, maps, air photographs, and statistics are used to aid in the research, analysis, and evaluation of the field problem.

GEO 446 Water Resources Management
Roles of water resources management policies and institutions are examined within central theme of unified river basin management. Stresses interrelationships among watershed planning; relevant legislation; agency authority and coordination; and the geography of water-shed management. North American case studies used to illustrate multiple use issues, including aquatic ecology, wetlands, floodplain management, recreation, water supply, hydropower, industry, and commercial shipping.

GEO 450 Geography-Geology Field Studies
One week to 10-day regional field study observing and analyzing the physical and cultural landscape. Emphasis placed upon the physical and historical geology and geography of a prescribed route including several states, regions, or international countries. Prerequisites: ESS212, ESS311, GEO103 or permission of the instructor.

GEO 522 Geoenvironmental Hydrology
Focuses upon the continental or land phase of the hydrologic cycle and includes the study of supply and the geographical distribution of water in lakes, rivers, streams, embayments, and underground water supplies and the use and/or misuse of these water resources for urban, suburban, and rural living. Consideration given to recent day knowledge, attitudes and technology concerning these water resources. Local water resources and drainage basins are used as laboratory areas for field problems and reports.

Resources and Research Opportunities: