"Many hands make light work" and having a group of like-minded individuals working towards a common goal is the way to make that goal attainable. SAGE 2YC is an example of developing a community to advance geoscience education and share best practices with others. Developing a community of practice takes time and effort, so get started and build as you go.
Identify the Community Focus
Depending on the community you want to build, you will need to first narrow your focus based on your goals. Determining the focus will help guide the formation of the community. For example, the goals for developing a geoscience recruitment base with K-12 faculty would differ from goals required to strengthen your ties with industry. The choice of focus will also have a major impact on the people who join the network, whether they are K-12 educators, 2YC or 4YCU faculty, informal educators, policy makers, etc.
The Florida team has worked to develop a geoscience program that includes newly-created courses and majors, social media pages, and community-wide events that serve as recruitment and retention strategies.
The Oregon-Portland Change Agents wanted to create a Pacific Northwest (PNW) geoscience network and connect with governmental agencies to assist students in developing a professional network.
The Southern California 1 team is developing a geoscience certificate which has necessitated the development of close partnerships with local industry.
Build a Champion Team
A champion team is a group of people who will support and advocate for your cause. This team may include administrators, colleagues, and/or individuals from the community at large. These champions believe in the aim of the network and will work to establish buy-in in the broader community. They will be instrumental in making the network successful and effective.
The Wisconsin team has developed a core of geoscience faculty at a few of the 4-year campuses who are eager to develop a viable network to promote student pathways.
The Michigan Change Agents created a champion team from seven colleges within the disciplines of geology, environmental science and chemistry to develop a website about Michigan's environmental issues.
Identify Needed Resources
Resources may include funding, facilities, personnel, and organizations that can enable you to achieve your goals. An additional resource could be having workshop attendees take the information they learned and disseminate the ideas back to their local communities. At the same time, thinking broadly about partners (internal, at other institutions, private companies, government agencies, etc.) that can help provide or secure those resources will be key to moving forward.
- Essay: 2YC / 4YC Collaboration to Bring Geospatial Technology to a Rural Region, Tora Johnson (SAGE 2YC 2012 Workshop)
The Northern California team developed partnerships with San Jose State University and San Francisco State University in order to gain access to the facilities needed to host geoscience career and research opportunities.
At the request of the Oregon-Portland team, the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory provided USGS materials and hosted a workshop for local educators associated with the 40th anniversary of the Mount St. Helens eruption.
The Florida team partnered with non-profit organizations (e.g., the Marine Discovery Center and Atlantic Center for the Arts) to pool resources and host a community-wide geoscience event.
"Piggyback" on Existing Networks
Getting involved with an existing project or grant that is already up and running can be a great way to make new connections with people who are pursuing goals similar to yours. Connecting with established groups also means not reinventing the wheel or creating redundant groups. Consider hosting workshops at regional or national annual meetings. Attendees may be more likely to attend your event if they are already in the same city or building. Partner with an organization or grant with a common vision. This may provide opportunities to garner financial support, but will also help to build a champion team.
Members of the Virginia team recognized the value of a strong network of educators who can create change within the Virginia Community College system by becoming involved with the well-established NAGT Geo2YC Division.
The Michigan Change Agents conducted a hands-on demonstration and activity for elementary- and middle-school students as part of the Great Lakes Bay Regional STEM Festival hosted by Delta College.
The Illinois team utilized the existing "Illinois Association of Geoscience Instructors" to advertise regional workshops.