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American Geological Institute
Leadership Conference
May 19-20, Washington, D.C.

Speaker Summaries and Action Items

Printable Version

Priming the Pipeline: Ensuring Future Geoscientists

SUBJECT:

Geoscience Employment and University Enrollments

SYNOPSIS:

Setting the context for the morning session, AGI's director of technology and communications, Christopher Keane, noted the decline over the past 10 years in the enrollment of geoscience majors in university programs. Current enrollments are now at the same level as the mid-1960s. The decline is largely the result of perceived fewer job opportunities for geoscience graduates, increased competition for students by other disciplines, and a continuing overall decline in student participation in the physical sciences. Working with university department chairs, private sector companies and federal agencies, AGI proposes to continue monitoring employment and career opportunities in the geosciences.

ACTION ITEM 1:

AGI will continue to work with Member Societies to identify opportunities to improve demographic and student enrollment surveys and reduce redundancy of surveys.

ACTION ITEM 2:

AGI encouraged to explore support for developing a professional geoscience M.S. degree in collaboration with interested academic departments.

SUBJECT:

Earth Science Teacher Preparation

SYNOPSIS:

Robert Ridky, educational coordinator for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), presented a case for calling on geoscience departments to increase the number of academic programs that certify earth science teachers. In an AGI survey of some 400 geoscience departments, only 150 indicated they offer programs allowing geoscience majors to also obtain earth science teacher certification. (Geotimes, September 2002). Our nation's schools have a desperate need for qualified science teachers, particularly in the earth sciences. In light of the declining university enrollments noted above, this is a potential growth area for geoscience departments.

ACTION ITEM 1:

AGI with NAGT will develop a database of state Earth science teacher certification requirements and a directory of geoscience departments that offer Earth science teacher certification degree tracks.

ACTION ITEM 2:

AGI to start a new initiative to create more Earth science teacher certification programs in universities that do not now have them.

SUBJECT:

Strengthening Undergraduate Geoscience Education

SYNOPSIS:

AGI's incoming president Barbara Tewksbury, who is the Stephen Harper Kirner Professor of Geology at Hamilton College, discussed a program being conducted by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) to strengthen undergraduate geoscience education. One aim of the program is to bring greater awareness of emerging geoscience research topics to the undergraduate classroom. It is also providing support to early career faculty to increase their teaching skills and help attract geoscience majors to their departments. Tewksbury expressing serious concern related to declining enrollments of undergraduate geoscience majors and proposed that new approaches be developed to attract students to the geosciences.

ACTION ITEM:

Barbara J. Tewksbury (AGI) and Scott Burns (AEG) will develop a brochure promoting careers in the geosciences for distribution to high school students and university undergraduates.

SUBJECT:

Enhancing Diversity in the Earth and Space Sciences

SYNOPSIS:

Bringing more minorities into the earth sciences will require greater cooperation within the geoscience community. That was the message from Jill Karsten, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) education and career services manager. Hispanics and African Americans make up 25 percent of the overall U.S. population but only account for 5 percent of the geoscience degrees granted in this country. AGU hosted a conference on June 10-12 in Washington to address diversity in the geosciences. The outcomes of the conference will be featured in the September 2003 issue of Geotimes.

ACTION ITEM:

All Member Societies were encouraged to attend and support AGU’s Diversity Conference in June 2003. The goal of the conference is to identify opportunities for societies to collaborate in the support of geoscience diversity programs

SUBJECT:

Geoscience Outreach: A Collaborative Effort

SYNOPSIS:

Cindy Martinez, AGI's project coordinator for professional development, emphasized the need for geoscience outreach programs. One example is AGI's annual Earth Science Week, scheduled for the week of Oct. 12 with the theme of "Eyes on Planet Earth: Monitoring Our Changing World." Martinez encouraged the participants to spread the word so that the entire geoscience community takes part in hosting and sponsoring Earth Science Week programs. She also discussed programs for increasing geoscience representation in national parks and discussed a new AGI project to develop a television series based on Rod Redfern's geohistory book Origins, which describes the evolution of continents, oceans and life. The goal is for the series to be distributed internationally.

ACTION ITEM:

Member Society leadership will encourage their members to become actively involved in Earth Science Week in October 2003.

SUBJECT:

Constraints on International Geoscientific Interaction

SYNOPSIS:

AGU public affairs manager Pete Folger wrapped up the human resources portion of the forum by discussing concerns related to constraints on international scientific interaction in the post-9/11 world. The primary concern is restriction on foreign students and scientists traveling to the United States. AGU will coordinate a survey of geosocieties to determine the seriousness of the problem.

ACTION ITEM 1:

AGU will take the leadership role in following up on the issue of visa denial. AGU will develop a questionnaire for distribution to academic departments to assess the scope of the problem and will make results available to the geoscience community.

ACTION ITEM 2:

Joe Briskey, Society of Economic Geologists representative and U.S. Geological Survey project manager, was appointed to chair AGI's new ad hoc International Geoscience Advisory Committee. AGI will put out a call inviting Member Societies to identify representatives to serve on the committee.

Federal Investment in Geoscience Research and Development

SUBJECT:

Federal Budget Hotspots for Geoscience R&D

SYNOPSIS:

David Applegate, AGI's director of government affairs and editor of Geotimes, reviewed the president's fiscal year 2004 budget request and discussed some of the significant cuts the budget proposes in federal science programs. Many cuts target the USGS, and AGI is working to establish a coalition of organizations united by their commitment to the continued vitality of the unique combination of biological, geological, hydrological and mapping programs the USGS provides.

ACTION ITEM:

Member Society leadership will encourage their societies join the coalition in support of the U.S. Geological Survey.

SUBJECT:

Oil and Gas Research at a Critical Juncture

SYNOPSIS:

Scott Tinker, director of the Bureau of Economic Geology with the University of Texas, discussed proposed reductions to the Department of Energy's (DOE) budget for oil and gas research. Of the total $23 billion requested for DOE in the fiscal year 2004, only 3 percent would support energy research; and of the $800 million DOE energy research budget, only 2 percent is designated for oil and gas research. This situation is in stark contrast to the fact that, for the next 100 years, the United States and, to a larger degree, the world will depend on gas resources to sustain economic development. Tinker requested that all those societies interested in supporting university-based oil and gas research jointly explore opportunities for restoring DOE oil and gas research funding.

ACTION ITEM:

Member Societies interested in supporting university-based oil and gas research will explore opportunities for seeking to restore Department of Energy oil and gas research funding.

E-Publishing and the Future of Geoscience Information

SUBJECT:

GeoScienceWorld: An Intersociety Initiative

SYNOPSIS:

J. Alexander Speer, executive director of the Mineralogical Society of America, updated forum participants on GeoScienceWorld, a proposal for geoscience societies to band together in an electronic aggregate of their journals and other publications. To date, seven societies, including AGI, are working collectively to make GeoScienceWorld a reality. The group expects to have a business plan available for review and consideration early this fall and is actively soliciting societies to join with them in this effort.

ACTION ITEM:

Society leadership are encouraged to join the Geoscience World e-publishing initiative by having their society’s journals included.

SUBJECT:

New Data Access Opportunities

SYNOPSIS:

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) executive director Rick Fritz presented the data access opportunities offered by the DataPages initiative. AAPG has digitized the association's entire journal collection from 1918 to the present and is geocoding it to make it accessible to GIS programs, so that subscribers can develop unique geological data sets. Fritz encouraged other geoscience societies to work with AAPG and make their publications GIS accessible.

ACTION ITEM:

Member Societies are encouraged to contact AAPG if they are interested in collaborating in the DataPages initiative.

SUBJECT:

Geoinformatics: A Community Approach

SYNOPSIS:

AGI's Keane presented the institute's plans for establishing a Geoinformatics Advisory Committee, which would build a bridge uniting the private sector, academic community and federal agencies. This bridge would enhance national support for geoinformatics, which is the plan for implementing a unified geoscience data and information system integrating research data, analytic tools and visualization applications into a single system for community-wide access in research and education. Member societies are invited to nominate candidates to serve on the committee.

ACTION ITEM:

AGI has established a Geoinformatics Advisory Committee and Member Societies are encouraged to identify representatives to serve on the committee.

SUBJECT:

Geoscience Foundation Alliance to Support Education

SYNOPSIS:

Jan van Sant, executive director of the AGI Foundation, called for an alliance of geoscience society foundations. Private-sector support for many programs is shrinking. We all have witnessed expensive duplication of programs in some areas. An alliance could provide an open forum for reviewing areas of mutual interest and a broad scope of foundations that could promote working together to support critical programs.

ACTION ITEM:

Societies with established foundations are encouraged to attend and participate in a meeting to be scheduled in the early fall to determine the feasibility of establishing an alliance of geoscience foundations. Jan van Sant will send information to prospective societies regarding plans and arrangements for the meeting later this summer.

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