2003 Seattle Annual Meeting (November 2–5, 2003)

Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 1:45 PM


KEANE, Christopher M., American Geol Institute, 4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302 and MILLING, Marcus E., American Geol Institute, 4220 King St, Alexandria, VA 22302-1502, keane@agiweb.org

The geosciences continue to experience substantial change as it enters the 21st Century. In general, geoscience enrollments have steadily declined since the mid 1990s, experiencing a slight up-tick with the end of the dot-com boom. University enrollments and career opportunities in the geosciences have been highly cyclic over the past twenty years, driven largely by the employment demands of the petroleum, environmental, and mining industries. Economic conditions, inevitable demographic changes, and shifts in global employment-sector patterns strongly affect geoscience student enrollment levels and drive the cyclicity of demand. Though the strength of cyclicity in geoscience employment is no longer as highly dependent on industry cycles as in the 1980s, the private sector still represents over 95% of geoscience activity in the United States. With demonstrated deterioration in the average quality of current geoscience graduates, employers are raising concerns about what is the role and function of the current geoscience degree. The pressures facing industry as the overwhelming employer and the issues affecting academic as the producer of geoscientists are not obviously compatible, However, the dynamics of the human resource market will drive it towards equilibrium, but the question is will the demand be filled by traditionally trained geoscientists. Understanding these systems and being able to communicate the dynamics of the system to both employers and educators is necessary so that the geoscience degree continues to evolve so that it may survive as a viable and vibrant area of study.