Current GAC® outreach initiatives and opportunities
Recent GAC® Annual General Meetings (AGMs), held in cooperation with other societies as either GAC®-MAC or Geocanada 2000, have included very successful activities in support of outreach. For example, at St. Johns 2001, the outreach program included a public lecture by Marq de Villiers on ‘Water in Crisis: hype or reality’, a special session on Urban Geology, and a field trip on the geology of the St. John’s area. Outreach events were a great success at GeoCanada 2000 in Calgary, and excellent examples could be cited from several conferences in preceding years. Plans for Saskatoon 2002 include a public lecture, a special session on geoscience education, and a field trip for teachers to Flin Flon.
1. Geoscience Canada has included, in recent years, several highly noteworthy papers:
2. Very helpful conference reports on Geoscience Outreach have also appeared in Geoscience Canada, for example those by Alan Morgan in v. 23, p. 267-275; v. 24, p. 112-115; v. 25, p. 85-88, and v. 28, p. 37-38.
Geolog plays a key role in publicizing and promoting outreach events. Recent stories have included ‘Public outreach at GeoCanada 2000: building on a GAC® tradition’ and ‘The media: a note on lessons from GeoCanada 2000’ by Jon Dudley in the Spring 2001 issue.
The E. R. Ward Neale Medal of GAC® is awarded to an individual who has made, or is making, significant contributions to the public awareness of geoscience. The award recognizes outstanding efforts to communicate and explain geoscience to the public through one or more of the following vehicles: public lectures, print or electronic media articles, school visits, elementary and secondary school educational materials, field trips, science fairs, and other public communications. The medal is awarded annually and, since inception in 1995, it has been awarded to E. R. Ward Neale, G. S. Nowlan, G. L. Williams, A. F. King, A. V. Morgan, P. Tremblay, D. A. B. Pearson, and H. V. Donohoe Jr.
The Yves Fortier Award of GAC® is awarded for excellence in journalistic presentation of earth science in the newspaper medium. The award recognizes a journalist who is a resident of Canada and who has been exceptionally effective in presenting a story dealing with earth science in one of Canada's daily or weekly newspapers. The award, consisting of $1,000.00 and a framed certificate, is presented at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Science Writers' Association. Entries are judged on the basis of originality, clarity of interpretation, scientific accuracy and value in promoting a broader understanding of earth sciences by the public.
GAC® has the opportunity to publish educational material through our publishing operations; e.g. a trail guide for Garibaldi Lake Trail in British Columbia is in preparation.
The GAC® web site at http://www.gac.ca will include an outreach button, a description of the GAC® Outreach Strategy as outlined in this document, and links to geoscience outreach activities.
Sections, Divisions, and Student Chapters:
Coordination of these activities is the responsibility of the GAC® Outreach Co-ordinator (a member of the Communications Committee) who will:
- Encourage outreach activity at each AGM through liaison with Local Organizing Committees
- Support activity related to the Neale Medal and Fortier Award
- Encourage publication by GAC® of educational books, brochures, maps and trail guides
- Ensure that an Outreach page on the GAC® web site provides concise information on GAC®'s Outreach programs
- Promote a role in outreach by Members, Sections, Divisions, & Student Chapters
- Solicit regular outreach items for Geoscience Canada and Geolog
- Make recommendations to the Committee regarding grants
- Contribute to a well-coordinated GAC® Communications strategy, and
- Submit an annual report on these activities to Council in May.
Joint action with the Canadian Geoscience Community:
The Canadian Geoscience Education Network (CGEN; http://cgen.bio.ns.ca),
which GAC® has financially supported for several years, is the broadest
geoscience outreach initiative in Canada, and the one with greatest potential
for comprehensive coordination of outreach by the entire Canadian geoscience
community (see Clague et al., Geoscience Canada, v. 28, p. 143-149).
CGEN currently supports and promotes the following organizations:|
|Earthnet (http://earthnet-geonet.ca), a web site designed for Canadian teachers|
|EdGEO (http://www.Edgeo.org), a workshop program for teachers|
|Geoscape (http://geoscape.nrcan.gc.ca/ ), a series of posters featuring the geoscience component of local communities.|
|CGEN is well positioned to facilitate other important activities in volunteer outreach such as the exchange of ideas through workshops, a Canadian geoscience outreach newsletter that could build from the existing WAT on Earth newsletter based at University of Waterloo, and a new edition of a geoscience careers booklet published by CGC.|
CGEN can also distribute resources, facilitate roles in national and international geoscience outreach conferences and initiatives, such as those of the International Geoscience Education Organization (IGEO), including the Fourth International Conference of the IGEO (GeoSciEd IV; http://www.geoscied.org) to be held in Calgary in 2003.
A joint effort by the Canadian geoscience community to optimize effectiveness and prevent duplication of outreach efforts through CGEN was also recommended by the Summit Action Working Group on Public Awareness, a follow-up to the GeoCanada 2000 conference.
In addition to CGEN, there may also be, now or in the future, other programs and opportunities at the national level which GAC® may choose to support.
GAC® will consider, each year, whether to fund grant proposals for activities ranging from new initiatives to contributions to ongoing programs also supported by other societies. It is acknowledged that there are numerous sources of funding that local geoscience outreach organizers can benefit from, such as Community Foundations. It is beyond the scope of this review to attempt an inventory or assessment of this type of funding, although it likely is a key factor for local activities. The Canadian Geological Foundation (CGF), for example, may issue grants for outreach activities on the basis of their own criteria. It will be beneficial for a range of funding options to be available to local outreach activities, as excessive centralization may inhibit creativity.
Public Awareness of Science:
It is acknowledged that there also are many worthy activities in support of science as a whole, and that persons affiliated with GAC® are very active in these activities. In many cases, it is beneficial for geologists to work with other scientists. NSERC PromoScience Grants and Scientists and Innovators in the Schools are examples. These activities are considered to be beyond the scope of this document, although GAC® will continue to be supportive of many of these initiatives where appropriate.
GAC® Outreach Co-ordinator
Eileen van der Flier-Keller
GeoCanada 2000 Outreach
Teachers from across Western Canada explore Dinosaur Provincial Park as part of the outreach program at GeoCanada 2000. Photo courtesy of E. Schroeder, Regina teacher.