Building Strong Departments > Workshops > Connecting to the Future of Science > Overview

Workshop Overview

Connecting Geoscience Departments to the Future of Science: New Structures for Research and Curriculum

Poster session on curricula that connect departments to the future of geoscience. Photo by Carol Ormand.

This workshop aimed to identify major themes that will be essential to geoscience departments over the next 25 years, to consider how departments are currently addressing these themes, and to envision how we might address them in the future. Themes might include the increasing need to integrate geoscience and life science to understand the Earth system, the role of dynamic complex system analysis in our discipline, the nature of quantitative skills required of a geoscience professional, and the changing dynamics of international research and education.

Recognizing the diversity of missions among geoscience departments, we seek to understand how these themes affect departments of different kinds and the commonalities among all departments.

The program combined presentations by participants, small and whole group discussion, and working time to address the following questions.

Workshop Outcomes

In addition to promoting communication and exchange of information across participating insitutions, the workshop will produce these specific outcomes:


The workshop began on Wednesday afternoon, April 25, at 5:00 and ended at 3:00 pm on Friday, April 27. Participants were required to attend all sessions.


Participants were expected to:


The operational costs of the workshop as well as room, board, and workshop materials were covered by a grant from the NSF Division of Earth Sciences (EAR-0614926). Participants or their home institutions provided transportation to and from the workshop.

Application and Selection Criteria

The workshop size was limited to 30 participants. The final list of participants was established with the goal of assembling a group with expertise in developing forward-looking geoscience departments as well as a commitment to participation in follow-on activities. Participants were selected to obtain a balance of research universities, liberal arts colleges, and regional comprehensive universities as well as a breadth of departmental missions. Applicants were notified of selection in early February.


The workshop was held at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Participants were housed in a hotel and ate meals on campus and in the town.

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