Strategic Planning

A strong department has a unified vision and a plan for achieving it. The resources and references below will help you to understand why and how to lead your department in developing a vision and implementing a plan.

Why Do You Need to Do Strategic Planning?

Opportunities and Threats: A View from the Top

Geoffry Feiss, past Chair of the Geology Department at the College of William and Mary and past president of the National Association Geoscience Teachers, gave the opening remarks at the 2005 Workshop Developing Pathways to Strong Departments for the Future. In this essay, he shares what he has learned as a chair and a dean, urging departments to control their destinies through strategic planning. If you don't, he cautions, the costs can be catastrophic. If you do, the benefits can be equally significant. Though Dr. Feiss's remarks come from the perspective of a geoscientist, his insights are applicable across disciplines.

How to Get Your Department Engaged in Strategic Planning

Advancing By Retreating

Dr. E. Scott Bair at The Ohio State University developed a powerpoint presentation about his experience introducing effective departmental retreats into the culture of his department. The link above takes you to a webpage version of his presentation. The webpage also includes a link to download his original presentation.

Aiming at Excellence as Our Science Evolves Amidst the Bumpiness of Modern Academia

Dr. David Jon Furbish delivered this talk at the 2005 AGU Meeting. As he states, "The health and stature of an academic department are strongly influenced by how its vision and mission mesh with those of the college/school and university."

References and additional readings

  • Buchwald et al., 2001, Robustly Useful Ideas as Geology Department Planning Tools. The Carleton College Geology department found that identifying "robustly useful ideas" helped them to set priorities for their curriculum and related programs, as Ed Buchwald explains in this short article.
  • Drummond, 2001 , Ten Principles of Geoscience Departments, Part 1, Journal of Geoscience Education v49 n2 p108.
    This column by the editor is the first of a two-part exploration of ten common principles among geoscience departments. It is intended as a conceptual framework that departments can use to think strategically about the strength of their academic and administrative positioning on their campus. This first part deals with five academic issues.
  • Drummond, 2001 , Ten Principles of Geoscience Departments, Part 2, Journal of Geoscience Education v49 n3 p224.
    This column by the editor is the second of a two-part exploration of ten common principles among geoscience departments. It is intended as a conceptual framework that departments can use to think strategically about the strength of their academic and administrative positioning on their campus. This installment deals with five administrative issues.
  • NRC, 1995 , Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers, Washington, D.C.
    Recommendations are aimed at creating a new PhD that would retain the existing strengths of the current system while substantially increasing the information available, the potential versatility of students, and the career options afforded to them by their PhD education.
  • Rossbacher and Rhodes, 2004 , The Department you Save May Be Your Own: Part 1, Geotimes April, 2004.
    This article describes a "two-culture" reality for academic departments: some departments are universally considered to be indispensable, others (including the geosciences) are not. The authors discuss the implications and stress the importance of departments having a plan for their own survival.
  • Rossbacher and Rhodes, 2004 , Building Geology for the Future: Cui bono?, Geotimes September, 2004.
    This article explores what the geologic and scientific communities can do to support geoscience departments so that they do not fall victim to the academic chopping block.
  • Tomorrow's Professor #93: Reinventing Undergraduate Education
    This is an excerpt from the report of The Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University. The full report (more info) is also available online, as is the follow-up report: Reinventing Undergraduate Education: Three Years After the Boyer Report.
  • Tomorrow's Professor #152: Changing the Graduate Student Experience
    In this excerpt from their 1999 article in Change, the authors argue that there are fundamental, structural problems with the system of graduate education and that any real reform effort will have to go well beyond the initiatives that have been tried so far.
  • Tomorrow's Professor #206: Transforming Departments into Productive Learning Communities
    This "Tomorrow's Professor" posting, an excerpt of a book chapter by Thomas Angelo, looks at seven approaches that department chairs can take to make their departments more productive scholarly learning communities.
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