What does it mean to be a geoscientist? Is there a core curriculum?

Tuesday 1:30pm-4:00pm CIRES Fellows Room
Mini Workshop


Cathy Manduca, Carleton College
Sharon Mosher, The University of Texas at Austin

Geoscientists work in a very wide range of jobs from exploration geologist, to consulting hydrologist, to environmental regulator, to Earth science teacher and beyond. This workshop will explore what we mean when we say we are preparing geoscientists in our programs. What expertise is core to being a geoscientist? What are the learning outcomes that are common across geoscience programs? Is there a core curriculum that underpins geology and geoscience majors?


  • Understand the current range of program level learning outcomes across workshop participants
  • Learn about and discuss guidance on the central aspects of a geoscience degree coming from discussions among geoscience educators and with employers
  • Reflect on the opportunities and challenges this guidance provides for geoscience programs of different types based on the experiences of the workshop participants
  • Craft a summary of what we have learned as a foundation for future discussions


1:30 Welcome and introductions

1:45-2:15 Core learning outcomes: what is your experience?

This activity will allow participants to share the learning outcomes they expect their graduates to achieve in their own program and compare them with those of other programs. We will leave the activity with an understanding of what is common or ubiquitous as well as ideas for unique new innovations, customizations for local situations, and potential gaps.

2:15- 2:30 The nature of geoscience expertise: presentation and questions

This presentation by Cathy Manduca will present a view of what it means to be a geoscientist- what are the essential perspectives or habits of mind that cause one to be recognized as a geoscientist. Geoscience Expertise (PowerPoint 204kB Jul13 15)

2:30-2:50 Small group discussion of geoscience expertise, how it is encoded in our program level learning outcomes, and the opportunities and challenges afforded by this perspective

2:50-3:00 Round robin reporting and synthesis

3:00-3:15 break

3:15-3:30 Workforce needs: presentation and questions

This presentation by Sharon Mosher will present a summary of discussions of workforce needs including characterizations of the overall competencies needed by STEM graduates and the results of discussions with geoscience employers. Workforce needs (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 104kB Jul13 15)

3:30-3:50 Small group discussion of workforce needs, how they are encoded in program level learning outcomes, and the opportunities and challenges afforded by this perspective

3:50-4:15 Round robin reporting followed by whole group discussion:What have we learned?

Workshop evaluation

4:15 Adjourn

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