Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM
THE IMPERATIVE OF A CROSS-CULTURAL COMPONENT TO GEOSCIENCE EDUCATION
Geologic resources, natural disasters, and tectonic processes know no political boundaries. Other earth system phenomenon such as climate change, not only exhibit impact without regard to political boundaries, but they also may be driven by inputs from within those boundaries. For these reasons, upcoming generations of geoscientists will need work together regardless of their country of origin to understand earth processes and to mitigate disasters and negative consequences of certain phenomenon. Geoscientists will need to share data from all regions of the globe. These collaborative relationships depend on strong partnerships that are built on trust. Trust requires cross-cultural understanding and takes time to develop. Geoscientists have conducted work across borders for decades. Earlier years saw more examples of the need for cultural competence in navigating the logistics of a foreign land and in particular a remote foreign land. More recently collaborative partnerships with scientists from multiple countries have become more common. Differences in nationality between graduate students and major professors also require cultural understanding. My own experience draws on graduate field work in Nepal in the 1980’s and interactions with cultures of that region. Later work took me to Senegal where my research was collaborative with scientists from the local university and led to the exchange of graduate students. Today, students can gain elements of competence through experience and observation of mentors. In many cases students do not have time or the opportunity for sufficient cross-cultural exposure during their university years to enter the workforce with the necessary competence. For this reason, it may be time for geoscience education to include more intentional cross-cultural learning. Geoscience students will benefit from skills and ideally fluency in a second language. Communications departments commonly offer courses in global communication or cross-cultural communications yet these courses have not historically been on the course schedule of geoscience students. The added value of diversity in thought in addressing geoscience challenges makes it an imperative that cross cultural skill development is considered in geoscience education.