The environmental geoscience program will be available to students in May 2020, with full-time enrollment expected in September.
The new bachelor of sciences program will be more specialized than the current geology program being offered by the university.
“There’s integration of other disciplines,” said Matt Lindsay, who will be the environmental geoscience faculty advisor.
“There’s a little bit more chemistry, maybe some more hydrogeology or hydrology, and also some biology and microbiology is integrated into the program.”
Demands for traditional geology jobs, such as resource extraction, fluctuates depending on market demands. Environmental geoscience positions still fluctuate, but Lindsay said the additional resource development and environmental mitigation skills an environmental geoscientist has created more stability.
Environmental geoscientists would’ve been useful in Saskatchewan recently.
Thirty-three oil tank cars and a hopper car derailed west of Guernsey on Dec. 9, 2019. Less than 10 kilometres away, 32 of 104 cars derailed and a dozen caught fire when a Canadian Pacific Railway freight train jumped the tracks on Feb. 6, 2020.
A combined 2.7 million litres of oil were spilled between both of the incidents.
“If there is oil being shipped, there’s always a potential for a spill and so having that expertise is something that companies look for or companies want to develop,” Lindsay explained.
“Graduates of this program certainly could contribute to that.”
Graduates will also have opportunities in other sectors, including mining.
Lindsay expects modest growth as the program begins. He anticipates about 20 to 40 students to major in environmental geoscience over the next five years.