Building Strong Geoscience Departments > Making a Case for Your Department

Making a Case for Your Department

These webpages were written by Carol Ormand.

When budgets are tight, college and university administrators may wonder whether geoscience departments are really essential -- particularly because geoscience is often a "second culture" discipline (Rossbacher and Rhodes, 2004). As geoscientists, we may feel that it is not our job to explain why the geosciences are essential. Yet, if we don't do so, who will?

The Value of Geoscience Education

Geoscience educators play a key role in educating the public about key environmental challenges facing our planet -- locally and globally -- and in preparing the next generation of geoscientists to address those challenges. Help spread the word about these key functions.

Becoming a Valued Member of Your Institution

To insure your department's value to your institution, align yourself with your institution's mission and values, be a team player, and be a source of positive public relations. The more valuable you are to more constituencies within your institution and community, the more indispensable you will be.

Strategies for Making Your Case

When you do find yourself in the position of needing to advocate on behalf of your department, here are some successful strategies and resources to help you make your case. This will be easier if you've been collecting supporting data as a matter of habit; take a look and see whether you already are.

Case Studies

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, "Nothing endures but change." Each of the departments profiled here has made significant changes over time. Some were responding to a direct threat of elimination; others saw an opportunity and grabbed it. In every case, the departments found ways to increase their perceived value to their host institutions.

AGI Webinar

On December 4, 2009, the American Geosciences Institute hosted a webinar on Strategies for Departmental Survival and Viability During Economic Downturns. Geoffrey Feiss (Retired Provost, College of William and Mary), Michael Perfit (Chair, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Florida), and Michael Loudin (Manager, Global Geoscience Recruiting & Development, ExxonMobil) each offered their perspectives, followed by a community discussion.

References & Additional Readings


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