Initial Publication Date: November 3, 2014

GeoEthics and Society

David Mogk, Montana State University

An important dimension of GeoEthics is directed towards the responsible application of geoscience to address the grand challenges that face humanity (see the NSF Geovision Report, 2009 and the Earth Science Literacy Initiative). The challenge is to effectively convey information about the Earth system (processes, hazards, resources) to inform civic discourse that effects policy, planning, issues of public health and safety, and impacts on humanity.

GeoEthics explores the responsibilities of geoscientists: What is the responsibility of geoscientists in service to society? How can the product of geoscientists' work be communicated to the public to effect positive actions and policies in light of our knowledge of Earth processes? How can we convey uncertainty to the public and planners (frequency, magnitude, duration, recurrence interval, etc. of natural phenomena; limits to available resources)? Should geoscientists be culpable for costs related to recovery of natural disasters or economic consequences related to studies of resource development? How can we best prepare future geoscientists to responsibly inform the public and work with journalists, civil planners and policy makers? Relevant topics include Social Responsibility, Public Policy and Litigation, Effective Communication of Geoscience Information to the Public, and much more.

We welcome additional resources on this topic; please Contribute a Resource on this online form.

Effectively Communicating GeoScience to the Public

Social Responsibility

Public Policy and Litigation

GeoSciences and Underrepresented Groups

Topics Where Earth Processes and Materials Impact Humanity or Vice Versa

Many of the teaching resources and activities developed in related course and curriculum development projects can be readily adopted, adapted and repurposed to support teaching of GeoEthics. Take some time to browse through the following modules to discover resources that address topics or issues to support teaching and learning about GeoEthics. These are mostly topics that were developed to introduce scientific concepts or content, promote technical and professional skill development, and/or help students prepare for the workforce or make connections between their personal and societal lives and the geosciences. A small commitment of class time can extend these modules to also include an exploration of GeoEthics applications and implications.