WHAT IS IT ALL FOR? STARTING A CONVERSATION TO DEFINE THE IMPACTS AND PURPOSES OF GEOSCIENCE EDUCATION AS A DISCIPLINE
One striking point made by the study’s authors is that among participants, no statistical relationship exists between science education training and success in obtaining science education funding. Instead, the controls for funding success appear to be appointment at a (prestigious) PhD institution, and previous success in obtaining non-education science funding. The study suggests that most science education funding may not be landing in settings that are most poised to support or transform science education. Further training for SFES was recommended to narrow the gap between training levels and funding successes.
The PNAS study was not focused wholly on geoscience education, and has inherent limitations. Nevertheless, we argue that it is in our collective interest to engage this study as a catalyst for a broad, strategic discussion on the future of geoscience education. We present the following points for consideration by our community:
- It is time for geoscience educators to publicly define what the geoscience education discipline is and is for: the entire spectrum of we do, what we expect our cumulative impact to be, both within the geosciences and beyond.
- While external, federal funding is a key currency of the academic enterprise, it is misguided and shortsighted to count it as the only, or even the primary, currency. Our impacts are measurable by multiple means, such as new knowledge gained, reforms enacted, etc. It is imperative for us to define those metrics for those outside our community.
- A discipline-wide discussion of recommendations for training geoscience educators must take place. A critical mass of geoscience educators now exists to lead that discussion.