M.S. program in Quaternary and Climate Studies

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The Quaternary Period, the most recent in Earth’s history, witnessed numerous climatic fluctuations, glaciations, sea-level changes, and shifts in organism distribution. These changes shaped our contemporary environments and strongly influenced human evolution. A knowledge of Quaternary events facilitates understanding of current environmental changes and may enable anticipation of future changes. Maine was particularly affected by Quaternary events because its landscape was shaped largely by glaciation and its biota was influenced strongly by climatic change.

Quaternary and Climate Studies commonly are interdisciplinary and thus require cooperation between several academic departments. To facilitate such cooperation, a Climate Change Institute, dedicated to teaching and research, was established at The University of Maine in 1972. The Institute is staffed by members of the Departments of Anthropology, Biological Sciences, Computer Science, Geological Sciences, School of Marine Sciences, and History. The Institute is not a formal academic department. Rather, it serves to organize and promote interdepartmental teaching and research related to Quaternary Studies.

The Master of Science in Quaternary and Climate Studies is offered. The program provides students with training in the archaeology, biology, climatology and/or geology of the Quaternary Period and contributes to an appreciation of the interaction of these fields towards a better understanding of Quaternary paleoclimatology, paleoecology, and prehistoric archaeology. Many of the courses pertinent to the Quaternary Period are listed under offerings by cooperating departments. Graduate thesis credits are arranged by the staff.

Research interests of staff members focus on historically oriented problems of the Quaternary Period. These interests overlap and complement each other to a degree which insures cooperation, and encourages interdisciplinary approaches and joint research projects. Graduate students may pursue interdisciplinary thesis projects and will be supervised jointly by several staff members. Although much Institute research is conducted in New England and adjacent Canada, projects are also current in the western and northeastern United States, Canada, India, Nepal, China, the Arctic, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Chile, Antarctica, Peru, and Cuba.

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