2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:05 AM


MANDUCA, Cathryn, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College St, Northfield, MN 55057, MACDONALD, R. Heather, Department of Geology, College of William and Mary, PO Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187, FEISS, P. Geoffrey, Office of the Provost, College of William and Mary, The Brafferton, P.O. Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23185-8795, BRALOWER, Timothy J., Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, RICHARDSON, Randall M., Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0077 and ORMAND, Carol J., Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, Northfield, MN 55057, cmanduca@carleton.edu

Geoscience departments are responding to a changing university environment, changes in the employment opportunities for their graduates, and changes in the nature of our science. The Building Strong Geoscience Departments project is developed on the premise that while each department has a unique vision and context, we will all be better positioned to respond if we are well informed about the strategies that departments across the country are using to address these changes. Workshops in the past year highlighted strategies for addressing two of the primary challenges facing departments: connecting our departments to the science of the future and preparing geoscience students for professional careers. In looking to the future of our science, workshop participants agreed that the geosciences will become increasingly important in developing predictive models that are of utility in addressing societal concerns and guiding decision making. To be successful, these models must be grounded in a robust understanding of all aspects of the Earth system. To address such problems, we must be able to work successfully on interdisciplinary, collaborative and quantitative projects. Thus workshop participants focused on sharing models for courses, programs, and administrative structures that support faculty and students in gaining skills and opportunities of this type. In thinking about preparing students for careers, workshop participants recognized that geoscience students follow a wide variety of career paths requiring a wide variety of skills, but share the need for a professional approach and a strong understanding of one's strengths and weaknesses as a individual. Successful strategies for developing these attributes and for helping students choose and transition into a professional career included engaging alumni in departmental activities, bringing together curriculum and extracurricular activities (such as internships, mentoring, and research opportunities) and working with career centers on campus. A better understanding of the implications of a global workforce and international workplace on our students is an important emerging issue. Presentations and workshop products are available on-line on the Building Strong Geoscience Departments website: serc.carleton.edu/departments.