Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM
USING FACILITATED PLANNING SESSIONS IN GEOSCIENCE PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT
The Department of Geology at Kansas State University (K-State) is a small program (~10 faculty) that offers Bachelor's and Master's degree tracks within a land-grant university. Though geology courses have been offered since 1866, degree programs didn't emerge until 1932. By 1950 there were more than 250 geology majors at K-State. Enrollment remained high until the 1980's when it dropped to a low of 11 majors in 1988. The numbers of majors has increased since that time but has not even closely approached the numbers seen in the 1950's, 60's, or 70's. In an effort to address recruitment and enrollment issues for both the Bachelor's and Master's degree programs, the department faculty participated in a facilitated retreat in 2002. The retreat process was designed to maximize input from faculty in a brainstorming format aimed at identifying niche areas that would not compete with neighboring institutions, but would attract students and prepare them for the job market. The role of the facilitator was to keep discussion on track, encourage participation from everyone, and provide a non-partial, or non-biased perspective on attaining our goals. The outcome of this one-day, facilitated retreat and several short, follow-up sessions was the identification of four areas in which to build or maintain strength: Earth Science Education, Energy Resources, Environmental Geology, and Seismology/Tectonics. Selection of these areas was driven by a variety of different factors including: existing faculty strength, the job market, university-wide interest/need, funding potential, state-wide curricular voids, and alumni interest. Faculty committees put together action item lists that ranged from no-cost curriculum changes to requests for faculty searches. Additional positive outcomes to this approach were faculty inclusiveness, a plan that could be presented to administrators and alumni, new faculty hires, and the desired increase in enrollments. As faculty retire and new hires arrive, however, the plan needs to be updated and the process revisited. The department will host a second, facilitated retreat in August, 2006, during which each of the four areas will be revisited with invited discussion from guest faculty from other K-State departments that have an interest in that topic area.