GAC® exists to advance geoscience as a profession and as a science. We do so by holding conferences, presenting awards, publishing books, and by communicating. We communicate with members through Geolog, with prospective members through membership drives, with the profession through Geoscience Canada, with University faculty and students through campus reps and student chapters, with various groups through lecture tours, with the world through the Web, with policy-makers through advocacy such as PAGSE, media relations, and position papers, and with the general public through outreach. Whereas advocacy is focused and is designed to influence policy decisions in the short to medium term, outreach addresses a broad audience in order to influence medium to long-term outcomes. The purpose of this document is to update the objectives and performance measures of the GAC® Outreach Strategy.
The 1996 Action Plan committed GAC® to promote public awareness of science through all levels of education and to the general public, and to explore opportunities to develop joint-venture public awareness projects on a national scale. The 2000 and 2001 Business Plans reiterated the need for GAC® to increase public awareness of the importance of geology in everyday life and the role of the geoscientist in society, and to ensure that optimal geological information is included in the K-12 curriculum. The Business Plan stated that public awareness is a shared responsibility, and that perhaps the most effective outreach role for GAC® is to avoid duplication by working with other societies through existing structures. The Communications Committee therefore was directed to prepare a strategic plan for GAC® activities related to public awareness and K-12 education including opportunities for co-operation with sister societies.
A review of GAC® outreach activities in Fall 2000, assisted by a survey of several GAC® members active in outreach as well as GAC® Sections and Divisions, indicated that:
- Existing GAC® programs/activities include several successful outreach initiatives and offer opportunities for others
- GAC® also financially supports other outreach programs that are national in scope; some GAC® members participate in these national programs
- Most outreach activities, including some that are national in scope, arise through inspired volunteer effort at the local level
- Outreach is best achieved through the sharing of ideas and provision of resources
- Many GAC® members are unaware of the scope of GAC® and national outreach activities.
Goal of GAC®'s Outreach Strategy
1. In support of its commitment to a broad and effective geoscience outreach program, GAC® will:
- Promote the inclusion of public lectures, special sessions on outreach and field trips for teachers in the AGM program each year;
- Publish geoscience materials (books, maps, brochures, etc) for children, teachers and the general public;
- Support and promote local outreach initiatives by GAC® Members, Sections, Divisions and Student Chapters;
- Recognize and promote exemplary volunteer effort in outreach through presentation of the E. R. Ward Neale Medal;
- Encourage and recognize excellence in journalistic presentation of earth science in the newspaper medium through the promotion and awarding of the Yves Fortier Award; and
- Facilitate the exchange of information and ideas on outreach through Geoscience Canada, Geolog, and the GAC® web site. The GAC® Outreach Coordinator will be responsible for coordination of these initiatives.
2. GAC® will continue to work in cooperation with other societies, in a large part through the Canadian Geoscience Education Network (CGEN), to help facilitate initiatives across Canada, most of which will be locally-based and volunteer-inspired.
3. The Communication Committee of GAC® will develop a business plan for 2002 - 2003 that will include specific initiatives for publication of outreach material and enhancement of current programs.
Please forward your comments to:
GAC® Outreach Co-ordinator
Eileen van der Flier-Keller
Formulation of this plan by the GAC® Communications
Committee benefited from a survey of GAC® Sections and Divisions, very helpful
advice solicited from activists across Canada, information from other societies,
and sound guidance by GAC® Councillors, Executive, staff, and other individuals.
These contributions are acknowledged with appreciation.
An earlier version of this document first appeared in the Winter 2001
edition of Geolog.