2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 10:45 AM

Perspectives on the Future Unconventional Geoscience Workforce

GROAT, Charles G., Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station C1100, Austin, TX 78712-0254, cgroat@jsg.utexas.edu

Many of the characteristics of the most desirable future geoscience workforce are well known and oft repeated: adequate in number, diverse, smart, well-prepared in the fundamentals of geology, possessing quantitative skills, computer literate, and team players. University departments struggle with what the curricula should be to produce the desired product. Core geology course requirements are debated as are the types and number of non-geology courses that should be included. The latter discussion generally centers around courses in physics, chemistry, math, computer science, engineering and foreign language. Both undergraduate and graduate course requirements receive this attention.

Missing from most of these discussions is how we best prepare students for a profession that increasingly includes economic, business, risk assessment, and management factors in analysis and decision making. While challenging at the undergraduate level, there are ways to include courses and experience in these areas at the graduate level without decreasing student participation in geoscience courses central to their occupational goals. As a science that seems to enjoy studying its own navel more than most, it is especially difficult to get faculties to look beyond how things were when they were in graduate school and peer into the professional world their graduates are entering. Our professional societies, especially their umbrella organization the American Geological Institute, should lead an effort to develop curricular options that extend beyond our comfort zone and prepare students for jobs in both core geoscience areas and in areas that will extend the reach and influence of the geosciences.