Department Heads/Chairs Summit: January 8-10, 2016 at Jackson Geological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin

Department Heads & Chairs Summit on the Future of Geoscience Undergraduate Education: An NSF-sponsored Summit for Geoscience Department Heads and Chairs and other appropriate administrators on the Future of Geoscience Undergraduate Education will be held on January 8-10, 2016 in Austin, TX. This summit will bring together geoscience academic leaders to discuss the developing community vision for undergraduate geoscience education and to develop strategies for implementing this vision in departments across the country. This summit is specifically designed for administrative leaders who have the ability to make and lead change.

Over the past two years, we have engaged a diverse spectrum of the geoscience academic and employer community in a comprehensive review of the skills, competencies, and conceptual understandings needed in geoscience undergraduate programs, the best methods of producing these learning outcomes, and how to best broaden, recruit and retain undergraduate geoscience students, especially underrepresented groups (see below).

Some support is available to help defray the costs associated with transportation and lodging. Registration deadline is November 15, 2015. I look forward to seeing you here in Austin.

Register Online Now


Mark Helper Leads GEO 660 Field Course

Mark Helper Leads GEO 660 Field Course

Summit on the Future of Undergraduate Geoscience Education: January, 2014

This NSF sponsored summit brought together a broad spectrum of the undergraduate geoscience education community, ~200 educators from R1 research universities with undergraduate programs, four-year private and state colleges (4YC), and 2-year community colleges (2YC) from across the country, as well as representatives from industry and professional geoscience societies. The summit focused on three main topics:

  • What content, competencies, and skills do undergraduates need to be successful in graduate school and the future workforce?
  • What are the best ways of teaching and using technology to enhance student learning?
  • How can we broaden participation and retention of underrepresented groups and prepare K-12 science teachers to build a robust, diverse and informed future geoscience workforce?
Jackson School's Annual Lease Sale Student Competition

Jackson School’s Annual Lease Sale Student Competition

The Summit was the first step in developing a high-level community vision for undergraduate geoscience education and resulted in widespread collective agreement presented in a Summary Report. All parts of the Summit (Keynote presentations, panel discussions and entire group discussions) can be viewed at: Webcast Archive. A presentation of the Summit outcomes was presented for an AGU/AGI Webinar for Heads and Chairs in Fall, 2014:

Geoscience Community Survey: ongoing

Please participate in our post-meeting Survey for participants and non-participants.

The online, ongoing survey of the geoscience community has had ~455 respondents so far with: 354 academics (78%), 76 industry (17%), 13 government agencies (3%), 7 other (1%), 5 professional society representatives (1%). Of these, 85% were not Summit participants, indicating that between the ~200 Summit participants and the ~390 non-participant survey respondent, we are receiving input from a large segment of the geoscience community. The gender distribution on the survey is 308 male and 147 female.

Survey Results are available on what are the most pressing issues for geoscience undergraduate education and on the skills, competencies, and conceptual understandings needed for graduate school and/or the future workforce. A presentation at the 2014 Fall AGU includes preliminary results from the survey including some on current pedagogy and department practice; PDF of the presentation.

Geoscience Employers Workshop: May, 2015

The Geoscience Employers Workshop provided valuable input from geoscience employers on the skills, concepts and conceptual understandings needed by undergraduates for the current and future workforce and the role of employers in helping departments implement the developing community vision. Overall there was strong agreement with Summit and survey outcomes regardless of type of employer, and in addition to their own views, they provided more granularity on skills and concepts.   The 46 participants included an even distribution of employers from the petroleum industries; hydrology, engineering and environmental consulting companies; and federal agencies that employ geoscientists, along with representatives from some of the geoscience professional societies. One participant represented the mining. Results are available in a Geoscience Employers Workshop Summary and a presentation given at the Earth Educators Rendezvous in July, 2015. A webinar for AGU/AGI Heads and Chairs is scheduled for October 9th  (Friday) for 1 pm EST: