Initial Publication Date: February 19, 2018

Department Development Workshop:

Professionalism and Geoethics--Creating a Departmental "Climate" Where Everyone Can Succeed

Facilitator: David Mogk, Department of Earth Sciences, Montana State University

Workshop Description

Professionalism refers to the attitudes and behaviors that impact interpersonal relations of all types in the workplace. The foundations of professionalism are based on the concepts of power, trust, respect, responsibility, justice, and fairness. Social structures that have hierarchical and asymmetric power relations have the potential for colleagues in positions of power to use this power to enable and enrich or abuse and diminish individuals, their personal character, and their potential for success. Everyone has a right to a safe, inclusive, supportive, and productive work environment. Recent high-visibility transgressions in the form of sexual harassment and bullying require special attention. A high bar must be set for students and faculty to ascribe to the highest professional standards of the discipline. This workshop will

  • introduce the topics of geoethics, principles of professionalism, codes of ethics of professional societies (AGU, AGI, GSA), and provide a template for ethical decision making;
  • promote awareness of factors that contribute to workplace "climate" (e.g., civility, microaggressions, implicit bias, empowering bystanders);
  • address issues of (un)professional behaviors, especially sexual harassment/assault and bullying in the workplace (the scope of the problem and strategies to prevent or mitigate situations before they do real harm);
  • explore topics of professionalism that will contribute to student success in preparation for the workforce;
  • suggest personal and institutional strategies that can be used by faculty to ensure that every one can succeed in your department.

Goals of the Workshop

  • Promote awareness of behaviors and actions that impact department/workplace "climate"
  • For faculty:
    • develop action plans that will foster a "departmental climate" that is safe, inclusive and welcoming for ALL people (students, staff, faculty);
    • develop policies and procedures to prevent, mitigate, or act when ethical issues arise;
    • create a culture such that everyone can be successful;
    • consider "where", "how", and by "whom" professionalism will be taught in your curriculum.
  • For students:
    • develop a personal action plan for your own professional development;
    • become aware of standards and expectations for joining the geoscience profession, know where to find information about professional or ethical challenges and strategie, and practice ethical decision-making; and,
    • know how to prepare for, hopefully prevent, and mitigate situations when ethical or professional challenges arise.

The workshop program includes short presentations to introduce ideas and concepts, whole or small group discussions, and reviews of case studies.

Pre-Workshop Preparation

The major topics that will be covered in this workshop are introduced in the essay: Geoethics and Professionalism: the Responsible Conduct of Scientists (Acrobat (PDF) 316kB Feb18 18)--David W. Mogk, 2017, ANNALS OF GEOPHYSICS, 60, FAST TRACK 7, 2017; DOI: 10.4401/AG-7584. A comprehensive website has been developed to support this workshop Geoethics and Professionalism with extensive collections of topical issues, references, related resources, and case studies. Feel free to browse this website to explore topics of interest to you in greater detail.

Session 1: Principles of Professionalism (~40 minutes)

Definition and scope of geoethics. Reflections on: power, trust, respect, responsibility, fairness, justice, integrity. Translation of these principles into codes of conduct of professional societies.

Download the Powerpoint Geoethics and Professionalism: Introduction and Principles of Professionalism (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 19.2MB Feb28 18)

Session 2: Behaviors that Impact Department/Workplace "Climate" (~40 minutes)

Recognition of factors related to civility in the workplace, microaggressions, implicit bias, and strategies to address these issues by empowering bystanders. A practical "toolkit" to guide individuals to Ethical Decision-Making.

Download the Powerpoint Professionalism and Geoethics: Behaviors that Impact Department Climate (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 7.1MB Feb28 18)

  • Review the Confronting Prejudiced Responses (CPR) Model --by Stephanie Goodman, Director for Faculty Development and Leadership, Wright State University.
  • Activity 2: Implicit Bias Worksheet and Discussion; download the file (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 26kB Feb19 18): recognizing implicit bias in the first instance, what could/should have been done? Refer also to the 5 Ds of Bystander Intervention (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 16kB Feb19 18)--developed by Blair Schneider, University of Kansas and Mary Anne Holmes, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2017 AGU Heads and Chairs workshop.

Session 3: Sexual Harassment/Assault and Bullying (~40 minutes)

Scope of the problem. Impacts (personal, departmental, professional). Response of professional societies and institutions. Case studies in the news. Privacy and confidentiality. Policies and procedures. Have a plan in place.

Download the Powerpoint Professionalism and Geoethics; Sexual Harassment and Bullying (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 16.9MB Feb28 18)

Session 4: Professional Relations Built on Trust, Respect Responsibility (~40 minutes)

Responsible conduct of research (where is this covered in the curriculum or elsewhere in the department?). Mentoring, asking for/writing letters of recommendation, writing reviews (journal, proposal, performance), collaborations, publication (authorship, credit), data policies, lab/field/workplace safety, appropriate behavior at meetings, conflict of interest. Professional relations in service to society: contractor-client, advisor for public policy, serving as expert witness.

Download the Powerpoint on Professionalism and Geoethics: Professional Relations Built on Trust (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 1.8MB Feb28 18)

Session 5A: For Students--Geoethics and Professionalism Training to Prepare for the Workforce (~40 minutes)

Download the Powerpoint for Professionalism and Geoethics: Personal Action Plan for Students (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 617kB Feb28 18)

What do employers tell us about expectations about professional character and personal ethics? Working with your advisor/committee: mentoring, clear expectations about work schedules, authoring, access to data.... Have you had (formal or informal) instruction in the topics covering professionalism that we've covered today? What topics would you like to learn more about?

Activity 5A: Develop a personal plan: (personal reflections, small group discussions, report out)

  • Based on topics presented in this workshop, and from your own personal experience, reflect on those aspects of Professionalism where you are particularly well-prepared.
  • What aspects of Professionalism need to be reinforced to ensure your success as a working geoscientist?
  • Where/how can you make a difference? What do you need to know? What do you need to do?
  • How can the department best help you meet your goals?

Session 5B: For Faculty--Strategies for Building a Safe, Welcoming, Inclusive Department (~40 minutes)

Download the Powerpoint Geoethics and Professionalism: For Faculty Develop a Departmental Plan (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 705kB Feb28 18)

Reforming Challenged Departments: The Faculty Role--C.K. Gunsalus, N. C.Burules and R. A. Easter, posted on Inside Higher Education June 26, 2018. Includes a list of major warning signs for departments.

What is your vision for the work environment of your department. Some topics to consider:

  • Where, when and by whom is professionalism taught in formal courses, research labs, departmental policy, and in informal gatherings?
  • Consider conducting a departmental climate survey for faculty, staff and students.
  • Commit to responsible conduct of teaching using evidence-based instructional methods (active learning) and assessments.
  • Writing letters of recommendation; journal and grant reviews; promotion and performance reviews. Respectful and helpful.
  • Commit to broadening participation and departmental diversity: What can be done to attract and enable success of a) a diverse student population; b) new diverse faculty.
  • Diversity and Inclusion--Put it in the Syllabus!--This posting offers a tangible strategy for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) faculty who want to address diversity and inclusion. It is by Prof. Monica Linden (Neuroscience, Brown University) and Mary Wright, Ph.D. (Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, Brown University). See also Sheridan's newsletter. © 2017 Brown University. Reprinted with Permission.From Tomorrow's Professor, message number 1625.
  • Review academic advising and mentoring policies and plans. Are these best serving your students, working towards their success?
  • Responsibilities in supervising student research. (See the On the Cutting Edge modules on Collaborating with Students and Recruiting/Mentoring Undergraduate Research in the Geosciences).
  • Insist on civility in department functions
  • Consider making an affirmative statement about inclusiveness in your department role/scope/mission/vision statements and on your department webpage. Here are some examples:
  • Ethical Leadership: It starts from the top.
  • Have policies and procedures in place, be proactive in anticipating issues, know how you'll respond when matters arise. Take a look at: Be Prepared--a blog by David Mogk posted on Earth and Mind--Reflections on Thinking and Learning Abut Earth with reflections on how to prepare for, and hopefully prevent, situations that impact the quality of personal and departmental quality of life.

"Be excellent to each other!" from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (with apologies to So-Crates).

Activity 5B Develop a Departmental Action Plan:(personal reflections, small group discussions, report out)

A mini SWOT Analysis based on the NAGT Building Strong Geoscience Departments program (Small group discussions and report outs)

  • What are your highest priority for creating a safe, inclusive and welcoming department?
  • What are the current strengths of your department in this area?
  • What areas need further attention?
  • Consider writing a statement of professional values, vision, mission for your department strategic plan and website.
  • What concrete actions can be taken today, before the end of the semester, in the coming year?
  • Consider using the resources and joining the International Association for Promoting Geoethics (IAPG) .

End of Workshop Reflections (~15 minutes)

  • Review personal and departmental action plans
  • Feedback on what was useful, what was not, what other information or topics you'd like to see developed.

PLEASE COMPLETE THE END OF WORKSHOP EVALUATION. Your feedback will be greatly appreciated. Entries are anonymous and the results will be aggregated.

Volumes on Geoethics--To Support Teaching and Learning in Your Curriculum