Earth Resource Management, a New Graduate Degree at the University of Utah


  • Michael G. Nelson Department of Mining Engineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Amy J. Richins Department of Mining Engineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Francis J. McAllister Department of Mining Engineering Advisory Board Member
  • George Karpakis Department of Mining Engineering Advisory Board Member



natural resources, management, human factors, culture


Earth‘s resources can be considered in three categories: captured or reusable—sun, wind, rain, tides, etc.; nurtured or renewable—ecosystems, including soils, plants, animals, etc.; and extracted—mineral deposits, including oil and gas. All three types of resources are used by humans for sustenance and for improvement of the quality of life. Increasing human population and the continuing extraction of depletable resources may lead to shortages of key commodities, unbalanced markets with wide price swings, and economic depression in areas where those resources are depleted. In addition, some resources may be used or extracted without adequate consideration of the influence of that use on other resources. Until recently, all of the earth‘s resources were treated as infinite, and the use of those resources proceeded accordingly.  In particular, mineral resources were often “high graded” with little thought of the resultant influences on other resources.  For true sustainability, an integrated, holistic approach to resource usage must be developed and implemented. That approach will necessarily incorporate the knowledge and methods of the sciences, engineering, business, law, and humanities, and will include five important components: people, resources, innovation, cooperation, and leadership. At the University of Utah, the College of Mines and Earth Sciences is preparing to offer a master‘s degree in Earth Resource Management.  This course of study will be one of the options in the accredited Professional Management of Science and Technology program, administered by the University‘s Graduate School.  It is designed to prepare professionals competent in all of the aspects of sustainable resource management.