GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 336-5
Presentation Time: 2:45 PM


GILL, Thomas E., Geological Sciences, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX 79968 and COLLINS, Joe D., Science and Mathematics, Texas A&M University- San Antonio, 1 University Way, San Antonio, TX 78224,

We show how transmission of knowledge from a single invitational professional development workshop- in this case, on climate and paleoclimate science- acts as a force multiplier of knowledge.

The first author is an original instructor of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Climate Studies curriculum and an original participant in the AMS Climate Diversity Project for minority-serving institutions. He gained interest in paleoclimatology through participation in School of Rock, a NSF-funded professional development program organized by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership and offered at the Gulf Coast Repository (Texas A&M, College Station), the North American repository for marine sediment cores. He developed a well-received paleoclimatology course at the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP) based on the workshop curriculum. In 2015 and 2016 was invited to become one of the instructors/mentors in a follow-up NSF-funded professional development program, MSI-REACH, also held at Gulf Coast Repository.

The second author was a top-performing student in the first organized UTEP paleoclimatology course, and served as the teaching assistant/lab instructor for its second offering . After receiving his PhD, he became a faculty member at Texas A&M University- San Antonio (TAMUSA, also a minority-serving institution), participated himself in professional development programs including Climate Diversity Project and School of Ice (focused on the cryosphere's role in climate), and is now developing sophomore- and senior-level climate and paleoclimate science courses for TAMUSA.

Not even including his formal mentees through MSI-REACH, ~400 students so far at three institutions have directly benefited from one individual's training at a single professional development workshop. Additional benefits of professional development activities include the transmission of knowledge peer-to-peer and instructor-to-instructor spanning multiple institutions, as well as the development of other collaborative scholarly activities.

How long will the chain go on? Like sediments settling on the bottom of the ocean and building up to illuminate Earth's history, a single workshop trickled down to develop new courses and expert teachers. Professional development activities clearly create an impressive return on investment.