Once and Future Planet

How did life begin and evolve on Earth?

Students researching in the fieldExplore ways in which the early Earth changed over time by examining the interplay between the solid planet, surface environments, and the emergence and diversification of life. You will begin to frame and explore how humans might affect the future of our home planet. In this community you will engage in field work and laboratory analyses to learn about the natural world and scientific method.

You can expect to:

  • Explore the natural world through field excursions on-campus and to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum.
  • Conduct a community research project to experience the scientific method.
  • Learn how the environment and life have evolved together over time.
  • Work in teams to research and present aspects of Martian exploration.

Community Course

GEOL124: Evolution of Life and Environment on Planet Earth. Topics covered in this course range from the Big Bang to the search for life on other planets. You will ​explore how life and environment evolved through Earth’s history, and what that means for future interactions. (3 credit course, fulfills General Education requirements of I-Series and Natural Sciences).
View the Fall 2019 draft syllabus for GEOL124


James Farquhar in front of mapJames Farquhar is a professor in and the Department of Geology and the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center. Professor Farquhar works at the interface of geology, chemistry and biology, and has been a faculty member at the University of Maryland since 2001. He is best known for research that tracks the evolution of the atmosphere over the entire day of our history – specifically for developing the principal technique used to document the appearance of photosynthetic oxygen 2.4 billion years ago. Prof. Farquhar has also used a similar approach to study other aspects of Earth’s long-term evolution and to study meteorites that track evolution of the Martian atmosphere.