Southeastern Section–56th Annual Meeting (29–30 March 2007)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


MACDONALD, Heather, Department of Geology, College of William and Mary, PO Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187, MANDUCA, Cathryn, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, 1 North College St, Northfield, MN 55057, FEISS, P. Geoffrey, Office of the Provost, College of William and Mary, The Brafferton, P.O. Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23185-8795 and RICHARDSON, Randall M., Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0077,

“Building Strong Geoscience Departments” is a project focused on helping geoscience departments adapt and prosper in a changing and challenging environment. Through workshops, a website, and sessions at professional meetings, this project aims to stimulate discussions and disseminate community expertise on topics such as approaches to core content and curriculum, retaining and recruiting top faculty and students, and maintaining the department as a valued institutional partner. Past and future workshops include Developing Pathways to Strong Departments for the Future, The Role of Departments in Preparing Future Geoscience Professionals, Connecting Geoscience Departments to the Future of Science: New Structures for Research and Curriculum, a workshop for Earth and Space Science Heads and Chairs (in collaboration with AGU), Student Recruitment and Retention: Conceptual Framework and Practical Suggestions (in association with GSA). The website ( includes materials submitted by workshop participants, summary reports and consensus documents developed during workshops, abstracts from sessions at professional meetings, and relevant information from other sources. In addition to resources on a range of types of departmental activities and issues associated with department leadership, it also includes information on the national context and various community activities. The on-line resources include characteristics of thriving departments, various approaches to departmental planning, recruitment strategies, survey results, ideas on how to stay relevant in times of budget cuts and/or shifting institutional priorities, strategies for working with the campus community, and lessons learned in other disciplines. Recognizing that a full departmental program extends beyond courses and curriculum, the workshops and sessions at professional meetings promote the importance of activities such as mentoring students, building a departmental community, and making connections with the local industries and businesses that employ graduates. These resources can help strengthen geoscience departments and ensure the future of high quality geoscience education at colleges and universities.