GeoEthics, Geoscience, Geoscientists, and the Geoscience Professions
David Mogk, Montana State University
The National Science Foundation requires training programs for undergraduate, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR).
The Nature of the Geosciences
The geosciences encompass the study of the history, materials, and processes of the complex Earth system, and play a central role in contributing to the safety, health, and welfare of humanity. The Earth system is open, heterogeneous, dynamic and complex. Geoscientists must be equipped to address the concepts of "deep time", work on spatial scales from atomic to planetary, make inferences from an incomplete geologic record, and deal with ambiguity and uncertainty in their professional work. The realities of work in the geosciences presents many challenges that confront issues of GeoEthics: how we do our Science, how we interact with other scientists, how we communicate our results to the public. A more comprehensive presentation of the nature of the geosciences can be found in the InTeGrate module on Teaching the Methods of Geoscience.
Geoethics and the Geoscience Professions
Codes of Ethics of Professional Societies
Codes of Ethics of Professional Societies--a compilation from many professional societies that serve the geosciences.
The American Geosciences Institute has recently developed a Guidelines for Ethical Professional Conduct--these recommendations have been endorsed by over 30 AGI member societies. A companion document provides information on Development of the American Geosciences Institute Guidelines for Ethical Professional Conduct: History, Context, and Intended Use (Acrobat (PDF) 85kB Nov4 14)
Ethics Policies Developed for U. S. Governmental Agencies
- Integrity of Scientific and Scholarly Activities--United States Department of the Interior
- U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency--a comprehensive list of policies related to these issues.
- U.S. Geological Survey Ethics Office
- U.S.. Environmental Protection Agency Guidance on Ethics and Conflicts of Interest
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Ethics--Rules of the Road
- U.S. Deptartment of Energy Standard of Ethical Conduct of Employee
- U.S. Office of Research Integrity--Federal Research Misconduct Policy
Responsible Conduct of Research
Compilation of Resources on the Responsible Conduct of Research--authorship, plagiarism, conflicts of interest, laboratory safety and much more....
Responsible Conduct of Teaching
Reflections on Responsible Conduct of Teaching--we do not accept anything but best practices in our research mission; why would we accept anything but use of the best, evidence-based practices in instruction? Faculty have a responsibility to students, institutions, and the advancement of science to commit to using best practices in instruction and mentoring of students.
Responsible Conduct of Scientists
Geoethics and Professionalism--principles of professionalism (power, respect, responsibility, justice), unprofessional behaviors (sexual harassment/assault, bullying), factors that determine workplace "climate" (implicit bias, empowering bystanders), diversity, professional relations built on trust (collaborations, client-consultant, editor-author, faculty-student), expert witness), and much more....
Ethics Education for Geospatial Professionals
- Ethics Education for Geospatial Professionals Products--"The National Science Foundation provided support needed to develop and institute graduate seminars at Penn State, Oregon State, and the University of Minnesota that rigorously explore ethical implications of geographic information science and technology (GIS&T)." This site contains case studies, course syllabi, and much more.
- The GIS Professional Ethics Project: Practical ethics Eduation for GIS Pros--DiBiase, D, C. Goranson, F. Harvey, and D. Wright (2009). The GIS Professional Ethics Project: Practical Ethics Education for GIS Pros. Proceedings of the 24th International Cartography Conference. Santiago, Chile, 15-21 November.
- GIS Code of Ethics--GIS Certification Institute
- Code of Ethics of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG)
AIPG publishes The Professional Geologist, which has a monthly column on Professional Ethics and Practices written by David Abbott (149 columns as of January 2014). These essays provide good insights into many aspects of GeoEthics, and could serve as reading assignments to initiate discussions of GeoEthics in geoscience coursework. See also:
- AIPG White Paper on Responsible Mining (Acrobat (PDF) 755kB Mar1 18)--"Responsible mining demonstrably respects and protects the interests of all stakeholders, human health and the environment, and contributes discernibly and fairly to broad economic development of the producing country and to benefit local communities, while embracing best international practices and upholding the rule of law"
Expectations for Ethical Behavior in the Workforce
- Perspectives from an employer of geoscientists: presentation at the 2014 Teaching GeoEthics Workshop by John F. Childs, Childs Geoscience, Inc.: Our Sense of the Ethical Environment (Acrobat (PDF) 2.4MB Jun17 14)
- A comparison of the geoscientific, nontechnical and soft skills needed by service-industry geoscientists with those required by oil-company geoscientists, C.P.M. Heatah, AAPG Bulletin, v. 89 #10, p. 1275-1292. "The key nontechnical and soft skills are critical thinking, ethics, and commitment."
- Summit on the Future of Undergraduate Geoscience Education; see the report from the 2015 Geoscience Employers Workshop that identifies technical skills and professional skills (including ethics) that are required to prepare for a sucessful career in the geosciences.
Dealing with Unethical or Illegal Conduct in Higher Education-- Investigations into cases of wrongdoing by professors are increasingly in the public eye. But are colleges and universities doing enough to deal with the problem? By Anna Azvolinsky, The Scientist, posted November 1, 2017