Note: this workshop has already taken place.

Workshop Program

This workshop provided an opportunity to think broadly about the support we provide geoscience students within and beyond the curriculum as they prepare for professional careers. Recognizing the diversity of missions among geoscience departments, we sought to understand how these themes affect departments of different kinds and the commonalities among departments of all kinds.

The program combined presentations by participants, small and whole group discussion, and working time to address the following questions.

  • What is the range of professional opportunities for geoscientists for which we are preparing students?
  • What do students need to be successful? (e.g what specific skills, experiences, and attitudes are needed for success in different circumstances).
  • What can departmental programs do within and beyond the curriculum to promote student success? What types of advising and mentoring are needed at different points in the undergraduate and graduate experience?
  • What can be gained through collaborations with campus career centers? How can their programs be most effectively used within the geoscience major and graduate programs?
  • Students with undergraduate geoscience degrees are among the most poorly paid relative to students with other science degrees. Why is that so and what could we do so that our students will be able to get well-paying jobs?
  • How does a department know when its programs are successful in preparing students for careers in the geosciences?

Workshop Outcomes

In addition to promoting communication and exchange of information across participating institutions, the workshop produced these specific outcomes:

  • A collection of web resources describing department strategies for developing future geoscience professionals, indicators of success, effective advising and mentoring practices, and so forth.
  • A set of recommendations/guidelines that departments can use to strengthen their program in preparing students for geoscience professions.
  • Action plan by each participant for how their department can move forward through departmental rather than individual action.


The workshop began on Wednesday afternoon, January 10, at 5:00 and ended at 3:00 pm on Friday, January 12. Participants must attend all sessions.


Participants were expected to:

  • develop a webpage for the departments website about the ways in which their department supports students in developing as professionals (this will involve filling out a form and editing the resulting webpage using the SERC authoring tools; details will be forthcoming).
  • develop an action plan at the workshop, implement it on campus, and report the outcome to the project.
  • contribute to on-line collections of resources for the Building Strong Departments website.
  • prepare in advance for workshop discussions via readings, writings, discussion or other activities developed by workshop leaders.
  • participate fully in the entire workshop.
  • assist in disseminating the results of the workshop through discussions with colleagues and other activities


The operational costs of the workshop as well as room, board, and workshop materials were covered by a grant from the NSF Division of Earth Sciences (EAR-0614926). Participants or their home institutions must provide transportation to and from the workshop.

Application and Selection Criteria

The workshop size was limited to 30 participants. The final list of participants was established with the goal of assembling expertise in a wide variety of strategies for supporting students in their professional growth, a spectrum of institutional settings and departmental missions, and a commitment to participation in follow-on activities. Applicants were notified of selection in late November.


The workshop was held at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virgina. Participants were housed in a hotel and ate meals on campus and in town.