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Land Systems

Learning Objectives:

  1. Design strategies for using multi-source and multi-scale observations of land surface processes that integrate field, geospatial, and human survey data to describe biophysical and socio-economic impacts of land systems changes.
  2. Integrate biophysical and socioeconomic data related to land use and land cover change using geospatial tools to analyze and model complex, multi-scalar human-environmental interactions that determine land use dynamics.
  3. Determine remedies to address negative impacts of land changes on human-environmental systems using land-use management tools and interventions.

Foundation & Breadth

  • BIO 81 or HUMBIO 2A & 2B or EARTHSYS 116 or BIOHOPK 81 OR BIOHOPK 175H
  • CHEM 31A & 31B or 31M
  • ECON 1
  • MATH 19, 20, 21 
  • MATH 51 or CME 100
  • PHYSICS 41 or PHYSICS 45 or GEOPHYS 110
  • Statistics: BIO 174H or BIO 202 or ECON 102A or STATS 101 or STATS 110 or 116 or 141 or CME 106
  • EARTHSYS 111 
  • EARTHSYS 112
  • EARTHSYS 210A or B (Senior Capstone & Reflection)
  • EARTHSYS 210P (Capstone Project) or Honors Thesis
  • EARTHSYS 260 (Internship)
  • WIM: EARTHSYS 200, EARTHSYS 191, EARTHSYS 177C, EARTHSYS 149, BIOHOPK 47, BIOHOPK 175H or another designated WIM course in a related department- must be approved by an advisor. Your WIM course may not also count towards your track or electives, if counted as a WIM.

(These courses must be taken for a letter grade: EARTHSYS 10, 111, 112, 210 A/B, WIM)


A total of seven courses are required from the Land Systems focus areas. Concentrating courses in a single focus area below will allow students to deepen their understanding of the chosen system. For breadth considerations, students are required to take a minimum of one course from each focus area. In addition, two electives are required for this track. All track courses and electives must be taken for a letter grade (nine courses total). Check Explore Courses for availability and updates.

Land Ecosystems


  • EARTHSYS 155                     Science of Soils
  • EARTHSYS 180                     Principles and Practices of Sustainable Agriculture


  • BIO 144/HUMBIO 112         Conservation Biology: A Latin American Perspective
  • EARTHSYS 105 A/B             Ecology of Natural History of Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve   
  • EARTHSYS 116                    Ecology of Hawaiian Islands (off-campus)
  • EARTHSYS 123A                  Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions
  • EARTHSYS 128                    Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems
  • ESS 256                              Soil and Water Chemistry
  • OSPSANTG 58                     Living Chile: A Land of Extremes
  • OSPAUSTL 30                      Coastal Forest Ecosystems



  • CEE 166A                          Watersheds and Wetlands (Prerequisite for 166B)


  • CEE 101B                           Mechanics of Fluid
  • CEE 162E                           Rivers, Streams, and Canals
  • CEE 165C                          Water Resources Management
  • CEE 166B                           Floods and Droughts, Dams and Aqueducts
  • CEE 177                             Aquatic Chemistry and Biology
  • EARTHSYS 104                   The Water Course
  • GEOPHYS 190                    Near-Surface Geophysics
  • OSPAUSTL 25                     Freshwater Systems
  • OSPMADRD 79                   Earth and Water Resources’ Sustainability in Spain

Land Use


  • ESS 270                            Analyzing Land Use in a Globalized World


  • ANTHRO 166                     Political Ecology of Tropical Land Use: Conservation, Natural Resource Extraction, and Agribusiness
  • CEE 124                             Sustainable Development Studio (must be taken for at least 3 units)
  • CEE 175A                           California Coast: Science, Policy, and Law
  • CEE 176A                           Energy Efficient Buildings
  • EARTHSYS 118                   Heritage, Environment, and Sovereignty in Hawaii
  • EARTHSYS 185                   Feeding Nine Billion
  • EARTHSYS 238                   Land Use Law
  • ECON 106                          World Food Economy
  • ENERGY 101                       Energy and the Environment
  • ENERGY 102                       Fundamentals of Renewable Power
  • ENERGY 104                       Sustainable Energy for 9 Billion
  • ENVRES 250                        Environmental Governance
  • OSPSANTG 29                     Sustainable Cities:
  • SIW 144                              Energy, Environment, Climate and Conservation Policy: A Washington D.C. Perspective
  • URBANST 110                     Utopia and Reality: Introduction to Urban Studies
  • URBANST 113                     Introduction to Urban Design 
  • URBANST 164                     Sustainable Cities



  • EARTHSYS 144                    Fundamentals of Geographic Information Science (GIS)


  • EARTHSYS 124                      Measurements in Earth Systems
  • EARTHSYS 142                      Remote Sensing of Land
  • EARTHSYS 211                      Fundamentals of Modeling
  • ESS 124                                Remote Sensing of Hydrology
  • ESS 165                                Advanced Geographic Information Systems
  • ESS 220                                Physical Hydrogeology
  • GEOLSCI 240                        Data Science for Geoscience



TWO additional courses at the 100-level or above are required. Electives allow students to personalize their Earth Systems curriculum by pursuing higher-level courses offered in their focus area, or by incorporating new academic perspectives. Each must be a minimum of 3 units.

Track Updated 11/2019