GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 234-1
Presentation Time: 1:35 PM


CRONIN, Vincent S., International Association for Promoting Geoethics, Rome, 00143, Italy; Geoscience Department, Baylor University, Waco, TX 76655

Engineering geology can be understood as an employment opportunity for those who develop enough skill and knowledge to be certified or licensed. They work within legal constraints to provide various services to clients – minimizing costs and liabilities while maximizing profits by charging what the market will bear. This minimalist approach is common and perhaps legally sufficient, but it misses the purpose of engineering geology entirely.

Engineering geology exists as a profession to help safeguard the health and wellbeing of society as well as of the natural world. For example, resource extraction to support some of the needs of industrial society, but that causes significant harm to the ecosystem, might be legal in a given jurisdiction. Still, it is contrary to the long-term interests of society and a healthy environment. There is an ethical dimension to work as an engineering geoscientist based on our responsibilities to each other, society, and the interconnected global environment upon which we all depend.

True leaders in our profession recognize this geoethical responsibility toward society and the environment as an essential element of our work. Those who were not fortunate enough to know Jerry De Graff personally can examine the body of his published work and the technical quality of the projects that he helped develop in the natural environment. They will recognize the excellence of his career contributions as an engineering geoscientist working in the public interest. His many friends will attest to his deep commitment to personal and professional ethics and his profound concern for the health of Earth's environment. He was, quite simply, a very good and decent person. His life demonstrates that we also measure success in friendships, mentoring relationships, trustworthiness, generosity, the consistent habit of making good ethical decisions, and the many kindnesses and courtesies extended to others. Our challenge is to follow his example.

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