THE ROLE OF PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES IN SUPPORTING EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCE DEPARTMENTS
The American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Heads and Chairs of Earth and Space Sciences Departments program has been active for nearly two decades. Through various meetings, AGU brings together heads and chairs to broaden their horizons, think in interdisciplinary ways and, return to their institutions with new ideas. Since 2006, AGU, in collaboration with the Building Strong Geosciences Department project and the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College, has been offering one-day workshops at the AGU Fall Meeting. The specific topics vary from year to year; they have included goals and roles of heads and chairs, fundraising, making use of Advisory Boards, student and faculty recruitment, dual-career couples, and undergraduate research. The workshop provides opportunities for open discussion and exchange of ideas. AGU also distributes a monthly newsletter to heads and chairs to keep them informed about events, topics, and professional development opportunities of interest to them, their faculty, and students.
Most recently, AGU and the American Geosciences Institute are partnering to host monthly webinars on topics that hit at the heart of the health and success of departments. Heads and chairs and faculty have had the opportunity to learn more about legal issues related to field trips, recruiting and retaining diverse students, and faculty and program evaluation among other relevant topics.
The development and support of all these activities stems from a mutual interest among professional societies in supporting and sustaining thriving departments as well as a desire to combine activities and resources towards strengthening that support.