Characterizing Strong Geoscience Departments:
Results of a National Survey
In 2005 we sent a request to just over 900 two-year, four-year, master's, and doctoral geoscience and atmospheric science departments in the US and Canada to take an online survey. This survey grew out of an earlier survey of 61 geoscience departments drawn primarily from the American Association of Universities and a workshop on Developing Pathways to Strong Departments for the Future held in February 2005 at the College of William and Mary. At the workshop 25 participants discussed the state of geoscience departments and developed ideas for strengthening departments. A total of 364 departments completed the 2005 online survey for a response rate of approximately 40%.
This new survey gathers demographic information, addresses perceived threats and opportunities, asks about the characteristics of strong departments, and addresses effective recruitment efforts for students and faculty, among other questions.
Analysis of the survey results indicates that commonalities outweigh differences between various institutional types. For example, a significant majority of departments indicate that effective curricula and recruitment are two of the most important measures of successful departments. Recruitment efforts show some variation between institution types, and there are some differences in opportunities and threats. Diminishing resources are a common threat across all institution types.
Averages Across All Institution Types
Question Results by Institution Type
- Most important factor in Departmental Success
- Percent of Teaching by Temporary Faculty
- Variation in Majors Over the Last 5 Years
- Do You Fear Losing Faculty to Other Departments
- Opportunities Over the Next 3-5 years
- Threats Over the Next 3-5 Years
Undergraduate Recruitment and Retention Efforts
We sincerely appreciate Chris Keane of the American Geosciences Institute (more info) for help reaching the vast majority of departments, Beth Farley of the American Meteorological Society for help reaching atmospheric science departments, and Carolyn Eyles of McMaster University for help reaching Canadian institutions. This work was funded by NSF Grant # 0331930.