The geoscience profession is facing critical human resource issues as a result of its aging workforce and trickle of new graduates entering core geoscience occupations. Since the mid-1990's the geoscience degree completion rates have hovered near 12 percent for undergraduates and near 20 percent for graduate students. Furthermore, data from the National Science Foundation’s 2006 statistical databases indicates that only 30 percent of geoscience graduates work in core geoscience occupations. The majority of the geoscience workforce will be retiring over the next decade and data from federal sources, professional societies, and industry indicate this growing imbalance in the profession’s age demographics. Over the past three years, the age demographics for geoscientists in academia and the federal government indicate an acceleration in the loss of senior geoscientists from the profession.
Because of increasing pressure to address issues such as energy supply, climate and other environmental concerns, and as seen with the Japan disaster, strengthening hazard mitigation, there is an expected 23 percent increase in geoscience jobs over the next decade on top of a wave of nearly 50 percent of existing geoscientists retiring during the same time. The U.S. is beginning to see the loss of fundamental technical skills in the geoscience workforce, both within academia and in the applied sectors. Across all fields, future geoscientists will need solid fundamental skills in both geoscience and mathematics that can be applied to different geoscience challenges including water resources, energy, minerals, hazards and climate issues. Given the current trends, many core and specialty geoscience sub-disciplines that are also economically critical are at risk of extinction. Without properly targeted investment in the retention geoscience university students and the successful transition of geoscience graduates into core geoscience occupations, the sustainability of U.S. geoscience academic infrastructure and pursuit of basic geoscience research is at risk.
This roundtable is a live web-cast. The roundtable will commence with a brief presentation that highlights these main issues and will be followed by Skype chat-based discussion groups on the following topics.
Discussion group focus questions:
How do we successfully retain geoscience students in US university programs?
How do we successfully transition geoscience graduates into geoscience occupations?
Roundtable moderators will present their discussion group summaries at the end of the roundtable session.
This webinar focuses on the steps these departments have taken to stay in touch with alumni and get them involved in providing career information for their students (e.g. providing talks in geoscience courses, participating in a Geoscience Career Day or Fair, interacting with students at a department open house day, actively mentoring students, etc.) Following the presentations, there is an open discussion period in which audience members from around the world to ask questions of the speakers.
EDMAP is an interactive and meaningful matching-funds grant program with universities for students to gain experience and knowledge in geologic mapping as well as contribute to the national effort to geologically map all of the United States. This program trains the next generation of geologic mappers and is one of the three components of the congressionally-mandated U.S. Geological Survey National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP). Geology faculty, skilled in geologic mapping, request EDMAP funding to support upper-level undergraduate and graduate students at their institution in a one-year mentored geologic mapping project that focuses on a specific geographic area. Also, each EDMAP proposal must be closely coordinated with a State Geologist or a USGS geologic mapping project. Every federal dollar awarded is matched with university funds. EDMAP has supported 144 universities and over 850 students from geoscience departments across the Nation. Following the presentations, you can listen to the open discussion period in which audience members from around the world to ask questions of the speakers.
Our speakers include:
Randall C. Orndorff Download presentation slides
Director, Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center at the U.S. Geological Survey previously: Associate Program Coordinator, National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, U.S. Geological Survey
Dr. John T. Haynes Download presentation slides
Assistant Professor, Department of Geology & Environmental Science, James Madison University
In this webinar, Dr. Thomas D. Hoisch from Northern Arizona University examines the results from a survey of 783 students in introductory geology classes that were surveyed at Northern Arizona University during the fall 2008 and spring 2009 semesters. The survey evaluated the perceptions and attitudes toward the sciences that are offered as undergraduate degree programs: Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geology, and Physics. The survey results indicate that misperceptions exist regarding the field of geology. Geology was perceived to be low in prestige, low in difficulty and low-paying relative to biology, chemistry, and physics. In addition, geology occupations were perceived to pay less than students’ minimum salary expectations. Student perceptions of prestige, difficulty and pay are significantly correlated, with students tending to associate higher pay with greater prestige and difficulty (Hoisch and Bowie, 2010). Read more in Currents #36.
Hoisch, T.D., and Bowie, J.I., 2010, Assessing factors that influence the recruitment of majors from introductory geology classes at Northern Arizona University. J. Geoscience Education, v. 58, p. 166-176. http://nagt-jge.org/doi/pdf/10.5408/1.3544297