Build Workforce & Civic Context in Your Seminar

Great! You have been invited to give a talk, or you are leading your program's geology, environmental science, or sustainability seminar series. How will you help students reflect on the relevance of earth issues and their role in addressing them? What steps will you incorporate that help them see their own opportunities ? This module includes reflection prompts that help lecturers strengthen their support of students as future geoscientists and civic agents. Seminars, online lectures, and podcasts are also excellent opportunities to showcase distinct research, decision making, and community perspectives centered on earth issues.

Reflection Prompts for Seminar Speakers

The below prompts might help speakers develop a few slides that support civic agency and career exploration. Speakers might also provide students with a sense of how to address barriers associated with science.

  1. What are the societal implications of your work? (e.g. cultural, economic, environmental)
  2. What are the careers that use your training and what is that training? (i.e. what experiences might students find that support work in your field?)
  3. How will you empower students to participate in science or civic engagement? (e.g. encouragement to share science, participate in research experiences, vote, join organizations.)
  4. What personal strategies do you take because you care about the societal implications of your research?
  5. How have you overcome barriers that students commonly face (e.g. math preparedness, writing skills, lack of experience, early failure, lack of family or peer support)?
  6. What local examples or diverse perspectives on issues will you share that deepen student understanding of the issues you work on?

Reflection Prompts for Students

A few of the below questions might be posed after a seminar visitor or online lecture to encourage reflection on societal implications and civic action. If you are using them to support a speaker series consider compiling responses from the questions you chose and discussing examples that illustrate the range of responses. Students might populate their responses into a Google Drive or other online spreadsheet to assist you with tracking. Or small groups might discuss responses and report a synthesis.

  1. What are the societal implications of the speaker's work?
  2. Did you learn anything from the speaker that might inform your own career choices?
  3. What evidence would be of most interest to decision or policy makers (choose local, regional, or national to reflect on)?
  4. Does this issue impact you or anyone that you know? How?
  5. Do you think this issue impacts all people in the same way? If no, describe distinctions between at least 2 groups.
  6. Do you think all people will react the same way to this issue? Why or why not?
  7. Is there a personal action you could take to improve how this issue is addressed? If so, will you? Why or why not?

Online Seminars & Podcasts on Societally-Relevant Earth Issues

These are just a small sampling of available online resources tacking earth issues. They may be valuable as virtual seminars.

  1. American Geosciences Institute (webinar), Policy & Critical Issues Webinars and Forum Videos. Typically features multiple specialists weighing in on societally-relevant geology.
  2. Day, Sarah, Geological Society (podcast), Geology Podcasts. Explores geoscience of public interest.
  3. HipHop Caucus (podcast), Think: Coolest show on climate change. Addresses climate justice issues.
  4. Holthaus, Eric (podcast), Warm Regards Features climate change research and action.
  5. National Public Radio (podcast), Environment Podcasts Commonly features climate change and pollution issues from varied perspectives.
  6. United States Geological Survey (online seminar), USGS Online Lectures. Many of the topics intersect science and society. Features scientists taking on many topics and not just earth science.