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About the On the Cutting Edge Program

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The On the Cutting Edge Professional Development Program for Geoscience Faculty brings together workshops, websites, and research activities to support high-quality undergraduate geoscience education. This program was established in 2002 with NSF funding, and over its initial 13 years of funding, more than 3000 faculty, post-docs and graduate students from over 900 institutions participated in 109 face-to-face and virtual workshops and community-based research projects producing a website that has more than 9,000 pages of content and is visited by more than 1,000,000 users annually. The project has changed geoscience education in the United States legitimizing discussions of teaching, improving teaching practices, and establishing a culture of information and resource sharing that underpins continuous improvement in undergraduate geoscience instruction. This transformation was made possible by an initial investment of more than $8.5 million by the National Science Foundation over a thirteen year period. Learn More About Project Impact »

An integral part of the fabric of geoscience education and a major source of teaching resources, the program is now a cooperative venture of geoscience professional societies managed by the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. On the Cutting Edge programming has been expanded beyond beyond its original focus on courses, pedagogy and career management to include activities that strengthen departments. These activities build on workshop programs and websites that originated as part of the NSF-funded Building Strong Geoscience Departments which involved more than 185 departments. The InTeGrate STEP Center for the Geosciences is also a major contributor to programming. Learn More About Cutting Edge Workshop Design Philosophy »


Learn More About Project Goals and History»


The On the Cutting Edge Management Committee includes representatives from the three primary contributing professional societies (AGU, GSA and NAGT), the NAGT treasurer, and the original Cutting Edge and Strong Departments grants. Appointed by the NAGT Executive Committee, this committee is responsible for the overall management of the program and its financial affairs. Professional societies who become substantial financial supporters of the program will have representation on this committee. The management committee approves all funding proposals for support of the program.

The NAGT Professional Development Program Committee is responsible for the management of the professional development activities and the website content, including peer review of teaching activities. The committee determines workshop offerings, appoints workshop conveners, and creates committees to manage other activities. They are responsible for the ensuring that the workshop offerings in aggregate address the needs and priorities of undergraduate geoscience education and for the quality of the individual activities. The committee was established in an MOU between NAGT and the NSF-funded On the Cutting Edge project leadership. Committee members come from NAGT leadership and the former On the Cutting Edge PI Team. The planning committee identifies or endorses the leadership of all activities undertaken by the On the Cutting Edge program.

The Teach the Earth Website Committee oversees stewardship of the Teach the Earth website and reports to the NAGT Professional Development Program Committee. Its members come from a variety of groups within NAGT that use, update, and manage the website. NAGT is responsibile for the Teach the Earth (TTE) website which is managed by SERC to provide access to the full set of resources within scope. NAGT maintains a reviewed collection of teaching activities within TTE that form the NAGT collection of exemplary teaching activities and are branded as such on the activities. NAGT also maintains a reviewed collection of sites that are exemplary resources for geoscience educators and these are also branded as such. The On the Cutting Edge collection is the part of TTE that contains content derived from the original NSF funded program as well as new content derived from the activities managed or sponsored by the current On the Cutting Edge program.

The program is funded by support from sponsoring professional societies, remaining NSF funds, registration fees, and contributions from individuals to the NAGT Professional Development Fund.

Program Sponsors

NSF Logo Transparent NAGT Logo GSA Logo AGU

Additional information

Contact Information

  • For further information about the On the Cutting Edge program:
  • For further information about the workshop program:
  • For further information specifically about this website:
  • For further information about an individual workshop:
    • Go to the Workshop Schedule page, which contains links all the websites for current and past workshops. Workshop and contact information is available at each workshop site.
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