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Earth and Environmental Studies

Bibliographer: Melanie Cedrone, (215) 898-1862,

I. Program Information

The scope of programs in Earth and Environmental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania is broad, spanning departments and schools across the university and ranging from the undergraduate to the doctoral level.

The Department of Earth and Environmental Science at the University traces its beginnings back to the activities and writings of such early Philadelphians as Benjamin Franklin, John Bartram, Caspar Wistar, and Charles Willson Peale. It took definitive shape in 1835 when the University established a Department of Geology and Henry Darwin Rogers was appointed Professor of Geology and Mineralogy. Thereafter through the end of the nineteenth century eminent scientists, among whom were Joseph Leidy and Edward Drinker Cope, made Penn a national center for the study of geology, natural history, and vertebrate palaeontology. The details of this tradition can be found in "A history of geology at the University of Pennsylvania: Benjamin Franklin and the rest," by Carol Faul, in Geologists and Ideas: a History of North American Geology, Boulder, CO: Geological Society of America, 1985, or at

The Department which took on its present name in 1998 offers a wide range of courses and degree programs on both the undergraduate and graduate (PhD) levels. Programmatic emphases now extend well beyond geology per se and include such fields as nutrient cycling in soils (especially forest soils), palaeoclimatology, palaeobiology and biogeochemistry, as well as new methods of study. Two of the seven tenure track positions in the Department are now held by faculty trained in the biological sciences. Oceanography is studied on the undergraduate level. For details see the Department's homepage at

The University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Environmental Studies is a center of excellence in environmental research and education. It is dedicated to improving understanding of key scientific, economic and political issues that underlie environmental problems and their management. Drawing faculty from across the twelve schools of the University, the main areas of research fall broadly into the following: earth, ecology and ecosystems; environmental toxicology; environmental engineering; and environmental policy. In addition the Institute has adopted watersheds and urban environmental issues as special priorities.

The University also supports several environmentally oriented teaching programs at both undergraduate and graduate levels. These range from full degree programs such as the Masters of Environmental Studies offered by the College of General Studies, to single course units with a large environmental component. A list of courses with an environmental focus can be found at :

II. Collection Description

The collection in Earth and Environmental Studies reflects a wide range and diversity of subject material.

The major collection of printed materials on geology is housed in the Van Pelt Library and consists of roughly 30,000 volumes in two classification systems. The collection is small compared with those of peer institutions and has never had the benefit of a specialist librarian. Nevertheless, in recent years the Library has made an effort to build up the earth and environmental studies collection through closer attention and enhanced funding and with the aid of faculty members is now able to keep up with new publications of interest to Penn's faculty and students. The collection is strongest in petrology, stratigraphy and palaeontology.

Other areas of concentration that are housed in the Van Pelt Library environmental policy; climate, global warming and ozone depletion; water resource management and conservation; forestry; sustainable development. Social, political, economic and regional aspects of these areas are also collected. The Library has strong social science, physical science, biomedical science, business, architecture and planning, and government document collections that help to support the broad field of study (see related collections).

An important adjunct to the printed materials in Van Pelt is the Map Collection, now housed in the Library's High-Density Storage Facility at 3001 Market Street. This is one of the largest earth science map collections on the East Coast. It is a depository for maps produced by major government agencies, including the United States Geological Survey and the Geological Survey of Canada.

Several relevant databases are available online via the Library's website, thes include GeoRef, the American Geological Institute's geoscience database, which contains over 1.5 mission bibliographical records, covering North America since 1785 and other areas of the world since 1933. Earthscape an integrated, interdisciplinary resource that concentrates on the social, political and economic dimensions of earth and environmental science. Lexis-Nexis Environmental the online version of Environmental Abstracts the principal bibliographic abstracting service for the scholarly, professional, and policy literatures on the environment.

III. Guidelines for Collection Development

  1. Chronological

    For geology materials the whole spectrum of geologic time with a special emphasis on the last 600 million years (Phanerozoic).

  2. Formats

    Books, journals, databases

  3. Geographical

    For geology materials the following applies:- In North America there is a special interest in the Middle Atlantic, Rocky Mountain and California regions, and in the Province of Ontario. Other areas of special interest are Antarctica, Egypt, the Iberian Peninsula and Peru.

  4. Language

    Primarily English, but selections are made in other languages, especially French, German and Spanish, as needed to obtain essential data.

  5. Publication Dates

    Current publications only with rare exceptions. Because of the wealth of geology resources in the Middle Atlantic region no effort is made to build up Penn's collection retrospectively.

IV. Principal Sources of Supply and major Selection Tools

The Library includes earth and environment science in its various approval programs and makes frequent use of publishers fliers for additional selections. Faculty suggestions are also welcomed.

V. Subjects Collected and Levels of Collecting

Subject Collected Levels of Collecting
Atmospheric Sciences 2F/2F
Climatic Changes 3F/3F
Conservation of Natural Resources 2F/3F
Economic Geology 3F/3F/4F
Environmental Economics 2F/3F
Environmental Geology 2F/3F/4F
Environmental Impact Assessment 2F/3F
Environmental Justice 2F/2F
Environmental Policy 3F/3F
Environmental Ethics 2F/3F
Environmental Toxicology 2F/2F
Environmental Toxicology 2F/2F
Forestry 3F/3F
Geochronology 3F/3F
Geomorphology 3F/3F
Geophysical Surveys 3E/2E
Glacial Geology 2F/2F/3F
Health and Environment 2F/2F
Hydrogeology/Hydrology 2F/2F/3F
Isotope Geochemistry 2F/3F
Land Use 2F/3F
Mineralogy 2F/3F
Oceanography 3E/3E
Palaeobiology 3F/3F/4F
Palaeoclimatology 3F/3F
Palaeogeography 3F/3F
Palaeontology 3F/3F/4F
Petrology-Igneous 2F/3F/4F
Petrology-Metamorphic 2F/3F/4F
Petrology-Sedimentary 2F/3F/4F
Pollution (Environmental aspects) 3F/3F
Seismology 2E/3E
Sedimentation 3F/3F/4F
Soil Science (especially forest soils) 2E/2E/3E
Stratigraphy 3F/3F/4F
Structural Geology/Tectonics 2F/3F/4F
Sustainable Development 2F/3F
Volcanology 2E/3E

VI. Subjects Excluded

VII. Cooperative Arrangements and Related Collections

A number of other campus libraries collect material in support of Earth and Environmental Science. Genetics, plant science and ecology are collected by the Biomedical Library. The Math/Physics/Astronomy Library collects planetary geology, and the Chemistry Library collects in crystallography. Aspects of vertebrate palaeontology are collected by the Biomedical and Museum libraries, as well as by Van Pelt. The Museum Library collects in the area of palaeontological human ecology and in the palaeobiology of selected regions of the world.The Engineering Library collects some material on environmental engineering. The Fine Arts Library collects in urban planning and environmental architecture.

Neighboring institutions with large geology holdings include Bryn Mawr, Temple, Drexel (strong in atmospheric sciences) and Lehigh (strong in palaeomagnetism). In addition, the Academy of Natural Sciences (located at 19th and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway) has a very large collection of materials on natural history, and older publications can be found at the American Philosophical Society Library.