Regional Network Development
Goals for changes in the regional network
Given the way that the former UW Colleges were organized, our "institution" at the beginning of the SAGE 2YC project in 2016 included all of the branch campuses. Under the new organizational structure, we still have a multi-campus view of "institution." One primary goal, as already stated, has been to stretch this institutional concept throughout the UW System and beyond. Therefore, our program/department, institutional and regional goals, strategies and activities are identical in that regard.
As the University of Wisconsin System in general -- and the two-year campuses, in particular -- have experienced a change in how they are organized and in how each campus relates to one another, our strategy has been two-fold:
- Maintain the connections between geoscientists at the two-year campuses; and
- Continue to develop a network with geoscience departments and instructors at the four-year institutions.
Our desire to maintain the close ties that had existed between the two-year campus faculty was complicated by the dissolution of the UW Colleges and the Colleges' GEO Department. The legacy of the long-term connections in that department lives on in that most of us forged lasting bonds with our department colleagues that are not easily broken. The willingness of our 2-year faculty colleagues to keep these connections alive is evidenced in the continued participation in our fall workshops.
We have developed a core of geoscience faculty at a few of the 4-year campuses who are eager to contribute to a viable network to promote our discipline within this region. Now that the former UW College campuses have been aligned with specific four-year institutions, the "pull" to separate into autonomous and unconnected "silos" is strong -- in fact, that is largely how the "comprehensives" within the UW System have functioned in the past, with little coordination between campuses. We are encouraged by the fact that a couple of our geoscience colleagues at the Green Bay campus have already participated in our workshops and have expressed willingness to continue to help establish and maintain a viable geoscience network in the region.
At our Fall 2018 Workshop, Re-imagining Geoscience Education in Wisconsin, we had a lively discussion of various activities and other means of broadening our base of interest in such a network. These included continued workshops/meetings focused on promoting the geosciences, field trips as a way of sharing how individuals use the regional landscape in their instruction, and developing ways to share instructional innovations. Each activity may be developed on our own or within the structure of an existing disciplinary organization (e.g., the Geological Society of America, West Lakes Association of American Geographers, the Wisconsin Geographical Society).
Our greatest outcome has been that despite the challenges of significant institutional changes, we have maintained a network of active and innovative faculty. The evidence we have of this exists within our workshop evaluations. There clearly is interest in a broad-based network of geoscientists within this region to promote and enhance the discipline at each of our institutions. Our immediate challenge is developing that vital "next step" toward achieving this goal.