Building Strong Departments > Workshops > Developing Pathways to Strong Departments for the Future > 2005 Workshop Summary

2005 Workshop Summary

Developing Pathways to Strong Departments for the Future

The strength of Geoscience departments and their programs lies at the heart of developing a strong geoscience workforce capable of meeting the wide variety of challenges facing our society. In February 2005, 28 geoscience faculty, department chairs, and senior administrators from Ph.D. granting institutions, comprehensive and regional institutions, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges met to share information on strategies that had strengthened their own departments and to brainstorm ideas for collective action that would strengthen departments across the United States. Participants in the NSF funded workshop recognized that these are challenging times for geoscience departments and that a number of departments have been closed or are facing reorganization. However, they concluded that departments across the full spectrum of institutional types have more in common than was previously realized and that there are many best practices and successful innovations for meeting challenges that departments can learn from one another. The ability to work collectively as a disciplinary group was viewed as critical to creating the compelling arguments needed for administrators, policy makers and the public to understand the importance of geoscience.

Workshop Discussion

In preparation for the workshop, participants submitted essays describing their departments and the ways in which they have met challenges and opportunities.

Workshop discussion focused on:

A number of key overarching themes identified at the workshop are seen as critical factors in building strong departments.

The workshop participants drafted a letter to department chairs which summarized their views regarding the workshop, its primary outcomes and the importance of continuing discussion and sharing about geoscience departments.


The Building Strong Geoscience Departments website incorporates a wide range of resources. All of the workshop materials are available: workshop program, PowerPoint presentations and discussion summaries (linked from the program), posters, as well as a list of participants and their essays describing the variety of ways in which participants' departments have met challenges and opportunities. There are also a great many bibliographical references, reports, and websites of use to departmental leaders for leadership and planning.


The workshop participants recommended a variety of follow-on activities including:

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