Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:25 AM
CRITERIA FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT, SURVIVAL, AND SUCCESS OF NEW ACADEMIC GEOSCIENCE PROGRAMS
Increasing societal consciousness of topics such as energy resources, environmental degradation, and climate change plainly indicates a continuing need for academic geoscience training. In spite of this, the recent high-profile discontinuations of several prominent geology programs has led to a perception that college and university geoscience programs in general are somehow imperiled. Periodic lows in geoscience enrollments, which are quasi-cyclic, (partly) market-driven, and have plagued the geosciences for decades, enhance the illusions of instability and of a decline in the value of academic geoscience programs. It is commonly unrecognized, sometimes even by the faculty involved in them, how many new undergraduate-level (major and minor) and graduate-level geoscience or cross-disciplinary hybrid geoscience (e.g. environmental science) programs are being added at colleges and universities across the US. Additionally, some programs which have languished for years or even decades are being or have been successfully rebuilt. The reasons for growth are as varied as the structure of the programs, for example: addition of programs at relatively young institutions; response to regional need for programs in field-based geoscience; the establishment of a center of excellence related to a local site of geological significance; or simply the replacement of retiring faculty with dynamic individuals interested in and capable of attracting more students to the geosciences. New or revived programs have an inherent advantage in being able to be readily tailored to specific regional or market needs and institutional goals. Simultaneously they may be faced with challenges such as limited faculty and material resources. Here I present information on several recently established or revived academic geoscience programs and contrast them with programs that have recently been eliminated.