SHAPING THE FUTURE OF GEOHERITAGE SCIENCE
Three efforts need to happen in tandem to lay the groundwork for the future.
1) Linkages: There are multiple levels of involvement and opportunities that will promote diverse and inclusive GH participation across all constituencies. If everyone participates even a little, it can collectively have a big impact. GH also presents an opportunity for researchers to elevate the reach of their broader impacts in National Science Foundation research proposals. Linkages and alliances between programs and agencies can facilitate achieving big GH goals.
2) Literacy: GH education should be integrated into K-12 curriculum (possibly related to science standards) and up through undergraduate and graduate programs, along with training on communicating our science. This will increase science literacy while raising the visibility of GH and the connections of geoscience to many other disciplines (e.g., environment, health, big data, global change, business, etc.).
3) Leveraging: The community should leverage the power of cybertechnology to develop new digital database resources for GH, with an accessible interface that is user friendly, reliable, standardized, and searchable. Coordinated platforms or a portal to existing applications (e.g., a common shared format for all state surveys) should elicit citizen science contributions, while supporting a simple way for researchers to input, share, and access data. Partnerships across multiple organizations or professional societies might facilitate hosting and managing a database.
Ultimately, a centralized database with a powerful search engine for GH is what the next generations of scientists and citizens need and expect to fully understand geodiversity, to support new breakthrough discoveries, and to protect and conserve fragile sites that we need to learn from. The conversations and action plans that we formulate now can shape the innovative future we want for geoheritage.