Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Survey on accrediting undergrad geoscience programs

The following survey is being circulated among a number of geoscience professional societies so you see this elsewhere, but I want to share it with those who won't see it.

The purposes of the survey are to

1) determine the level of interest in establishing some form of academic accreditation for undergraduate programs in the U.S., and

2) determine the characteristics of such a program that are most desirable.

Please access the survey through this link:

The survey will be open from 19 February through 17 March 2008. The survey is quite short, but you will be asked to consider and rate characteristics of five different models of accreditation. You can link to information about the various models from inside the survey, or you can print the information in advance at Survey Accreditation Models.

Note: As the survey is being distributed by a number of societies independently of one another, you may receive more than one invitation to participate. Please disregard duplicate requests.

Survey Preamble:

At a time when the societal needs for geoscientists are at all-time highs, we generally remain dissatisfied with the public and political recognition and support for our science and profession. Student enrollments have not kept pace with the demands for educated geoscientists, and some departments are threatened with closure or merger. Lack of adequate instruction in K-12 and lack of an Advanced Placement Exam in geology are commonly cited as reasons why entering college students steer away from geology as a major. Conversely, lack of a consistent university program and lack of a consistent name for departments are cited as reasons that even advanced high-school geology courses are not counted as science courses for university admissions. These problems are mirrored around the world; for example, last September, a national summit in Australia addressed the “plight” of geoscience departments—decreasing in numbers, shrinking in majors, and declining in faculty positions, all despite a national shortfall in the geoscience workforce. Among the challenges are attracting and retaining students, preparing students to become effective professionals, and gaining public and political recognition and support for our science and profession. Obviously, many approaches must be taken in parallel, but is one approach to offer a national standard for accreditation of departments who choose to participate? Last year, in a GSA survey of department chairs, 49% favored the concept of some form of accreditation. Following on that survey, a consortium of societies is conducting this survey of geoscientists in academia, industry, and agencies. This survey addresses not simply the concept but the general design of a program of academic accreditation.

We hope to have the widest possible set of responders to this survey, in order to gauge the opinions of the greatest diversity of geoscientists. Please let us have your response.

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