Initial Publication Date: December 11, 2016

Geoethics and Professionalism: The Responsible Conduct of Scientists

David Mogk, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Montana State University

Professionalism in the geosciences refers to the behaviors and attitudes of geoscientists as they interact with colleagues in the work environment and with the public in serving a wide variety of societal needs. The following topics address numerous issues of professionalism that impact the ability of scientists to do their work and for Science to progress. Please use this module as a guide for self-assessment of your classes, lab, department or program. Are there issues that you should be aware of? The goal is to help identify instances of unprofessional conduct, to prevent these from becoming major issues, and to provide the support to encourage scientists to act to mitigate and resolve these issues.

How to Use this Module: We have assembled a large collection of references and related resources on topics that impact professional practice and workplace "climate". Use these resources to start the conversation: in your classes, in the coffee room, in departmental meetings and seminars. These issues cannot remain an "open secret" and demand to be explicitly addressed. Use the resources in this module to discuss with colleagues/students and for personal reflection. Are you doing all you can to ensure that your work environment ascribes to the highest standards of professionalism?

Be Prepared--And an Ounce of Prevention

Administrators, faculty, staff, students, managers and co-workers may encounter all manner of interpersonal conflicts that may affect the safety and productivity of the work environment. Know how to recognize the signs of potential trouble, intervene early to prevent a bad situation, know the rules, and have a plan in place about how you can respond to mitigate impacts. Here are some thoughts on how to prepare:

  • Be Prepared blog post on Earth and Mind and presentation (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 5.8MB Dec11 16) made to the 2017 AGU Heads and Chairs meeting session on Addressing Harassment and Improving Workplace Climate by David Mogk.

Topics Addressed in this Module:

Consequences of Unprofessional Behavior

The Task Group on Global Geoscience Professionalism lists these Possible Discipline Outcomes: "Most legislated geoscience bodies have the ability to discipline a member, where and when appropriate, up to and including the right to revoke membership, to remove the right to title and to remove the right to practise geoscience in the jurisdiction concerned. Other geoscience bodies and learned societies generally also have the right to discipline members, where and when appropriate, up to and including the right to revoke the membership and to remove the right to title, but not the ability to remove the right to practise geoscience in the jurisdiction concerned. The consequences noted are among the most stringent available to the geoscience bodies. Other various discipline measures are available such as reprimand, mediation, and fines."

This web page was authored by David Mogk with significant contributions of references and resources from: the AGU Ethics Task Force, Billy Williams, Linda Gundersen, Mary Anne Holmes, Erika Marin-Spiotta, Mark Moldwin and other colleagues Rebecca Haacker, Carolyn Brinkworth, Dawn Sumner, Val Sloan. The responsibility for content on this page lies with the author.