- About Us
Our Evolution and History
The creation of the Department of Earth and Environment at FIU is the result of a two-department merger: Earth Sciences and Environmental Studies. Below we describe the history of both programs before this merger so that current and future students and alumni can appreciate the breadth and depth that our new department now houses.
History of the Earth Sciences Department
The Earth Sciences program at FIU began in 1972 with two faculty members within the Department of Physical Sciences. Classes began in 1973 and the first Geology majors graduated in 1976. The program expanded rapidly and became a separate Department of Geology in 1984. While committed to excellence in teaching, the department has always remained a strong research-oriented department. Faculty research projects are supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, Ocean Drilling Program, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy, Everglades National Park, South Florida Water Management District, Sigma Xi, Earthwatch, Geological Society of America and Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society. The MS program in Geology began in 1987 and graduated its first students in 1989. The PhD program in Geology admitted its first students in the fall of 1994.
In 1992-1993 the Geology Department facilities were completely renovated and expanded four-fold. Research analytical facilities include an electron microprobe, ICP emission spectrometer, cryogenic magnetometer, and scanning electron microscope. The department houses research laboratories for experimental structural geology, high-pressure experimental petrology, micropaleontology, fluid inclusion studies and a class-100 clean laboratory for preparation of samples for isotopic analysis. The department is also well-equipped with instrumentation for field geophysical and hydrogeologic studies, and has a van for transportation to local field sites. Extensive facilities for the analysis of water are available through formal connections with the Drinking Water Research Center in the College of Engineering and Design.
The Department has been able to take full advantage of Miami's excellent location for fieldwork. Faculty and student research has been conducted throughout South Florida, the Caribbean (Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands), Central and South America (Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Panama), as well as Arizona, California, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Hawaii, Fiji, Japan, Russia, Spain and India. Student field camps and class excursions have been conducted throughout the southeastern United States, New Mexico, California, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico and, of course, South Florida.
History of the Environmental Studies Department
The Department of Environmental Studies at Florida International University was established in 1994, and grew out of an Environmental Studies Program that had operated for some 20 years. The program’s faculty and students are making ever greater contributions to deeper knowledge and better management of the environment in South Florida, Latin America, and beyond. We have 15 core faculty members and more than 30 affiliated faculty members who are undertaking exciting research on topics ranging from biogeochemistry to urban ecology. We have grown to have nearly 150 majors distributed between our BS and BA degrees, and over 50 graduate students in the MSc in Environmental Studies degree. Within the next year we expect to implement a PhD program. Faculty and students work together in the common endeavor of borrowing what is most useful from many disciplines and applying them to research and management on global, regional, and local environmental dilemmas.
The Department takes maximum advantage from its location on the edge of the Everglades and at the gateway of Latin America, but also serves both the scholarly community and communities facing environmental change elsewhere in the world. The Department believes that rigorous academic and scientific inquiry must be combined with the goal of finding a more sustainable “fit” between human social systems and ecological systems. We are an interdisciplinary department at the forefront of research between natural and social systems.