Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 1:05 PM


CHAN, Marjorie, Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah, 115 South 1460 East, Room 383 FASB, Salt Lake City, UT 84112,

Diversity definitely matters to our professional society, the Geological Society of America (GSA). However, for large organizations that depend on volunteer efforts from its membership, it is often a slow process to change and it is difficult to initiate the steps that are necessary to achieve the positive outcomes. Our society has a stated vision to be the premier geological society, with a mission to advance the geosciences profession and an official position statement on diversity. In order to foster a robust and diverse professional geoscience community, we must actively include variety in race and ethnicity, gender, religion, physical and mental abilities, age, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin or ancestry, education, and class. It is imperative to be inclusive because we need to remain a viable society that can provide global leadership. With the complex issues facing a sustainable Earth, our community needs to encourage the best professional geoscientists, with broad perspectives from diverse backgrounds.

North American demographics are rapidly changing, much faster than the change in GSA’s demographics. Yet, important steps can get GSA on the right track. It is well known that diverse participation can be encouraged by positive, engaging experiences. Thus, GSA’s Diversity Committee put forth an “On To the Future(OTF) initiative to bring 125 students from underrepresented groups to the 125th Anniversary Annual meeting. Efforts like this can be a pivotal culture shift, but it depends on the GSA membership being involved and supportive of these initiatives. The goal is to engage students to: 1) experience the richness of our professional meetings and interactions, and 2) receive recognition and support to be a part of the meetings.

A visible change in the make-up of our society will bring new perspectives to all of GSA’s functions and interactions, to ultimately affect the larger geoscience profession as a whole. We expect to be able to report and document the outcomes from OTF to show that GSA is on a very positive trajectory, and students are the major growth area worth investing in. A diverse membership is absolutely essential and is the lifeblood we will depend on for guiding the conduct of geoscience study and research in the future.