Initial Publication Date: November 2, 2012

Programs that Bring Together Geoscience and Sustainability

In May, 2012, the InTeGrate project held a workshop on programs that bring together geoscience and sustainability. Designing such a program presents a substantial challenge: they are, by necessity, interdisciplinary in nature, and it is difficult to foster a deep understanding of multiple disciplines in any single degree program. One cannot understand the complexities of energy dependence or global water issues, for example, without considering scientific, political, and economic perspectives. However, in introducing students to a variety of perspectives, we sacrifice deeper exploration of each discipline.

A consensus at the workshop was that one key to success with this approach is to focus on, and communicate to students, the high value of being able to work collaboratively to solve interdisciplinary problems. A motivated person with these skills can acquire the necessary disciplinary knowledge, or can collaborate with someone who has that knowledge, to solve unfamiliar problems.

The resources on these pages grew out of the workshop. If you are planning to design a program uniting these topics, the program descriptions and essays below will save you from needing to re-invent the wheel.

Workshop Synthesis

Key ideas from the workshop are summarized in the workshop synthesis. This document focuses on several facets of sustainability programs: their strengths, what challenges they face, and what opportunities they offer.

Program Collection

In association with our May, 2012, workshop, we asked participants to provide us with detailed descriptions of their programs. These have been organized into a browseable collection of program descriptions.

If you have been involved in designing or running a program that links geoscience and sustainability, please describe your program so that we can add it to our collection.

Essay Collection

Also in association with our May, 2012, workshop, we asked participants to write essays about their experiences with their programs. These are presented in a browseable collection of essays. Each participant was asked to address these four points in their essay:

  • the overarching goal of your program (why it exists),
  • the strengths of the design of your program, including what you think is most valuable about it,
  • one or more of the challenges of implementing and running your program, and
  • a brief summary of how the program prepares students for their future careers.