Position Statement FAQs
What is a Position Statement?
The GSA develops Position Statements on select issues of direct relevance to the geosciences community and/or for which thoughtful geologic input is important to informed debate and decision making. In addition to an articulation of the Society's perspective on the issue being addressed, the statement includes background on and an analysis of the issue, the rationale for the GSA position, and, an implementation plan with suggestions for action by the Society's members.
Why does the GSA develop Position Statements?
Position Statements are developed, in support of and consistent with the GSA's Vision and Mission, to develop consensus on significant professional, technical, and societal issues of relevance to the geosciences community. Position Statements, developed and adopted through a well defined process, provide the basis for statements made on behalf of the GSA before government bodies and agencies and communicated to the media and the general public.
What is the relationship between Position Statements and the GSA's Vision, Mission, and Goals and Objectives?
Position Statements are vehicles through which specific elements Society's Vision and Mission can be applied. For example, the Vision states that the GSA will support "the application of geoscience knowledge and insight to human needs, aspirations, and stewardship of the Earth." Similarly, the Mission Statement calls for the GSA to promote" the geosciences in the service of humankind," which is also one of the Society's six stated Goals. That Goal states that the GSA will "actively foster dialogue with the public and decision-makers on relevant geoscience issues by developing and advertising GSA position statements on issues of importance to the Society." Therefore, Position Statements are one tool that the Society uses to put its Vision, Mission, and Goals and Objectives into action.
How are Position Statements developed and approved?
GSA position statements are proposed, developed, and reviewed in three distinct phases. The Chair of the GPPC and GSA’s Director of Geoscience Policy may agree during the GPPC review process of a draft position statement (II in the outline below) or a draft revision of a position statement (III below) that circumstances may require that a position statement receive “high priority for early review.”
- Position statement proposal.
- The need for a particular position statement is proposed to the Geology & Public Policy Committee (GPPC). The position statement proposal can originate from a GSA member, a GSA division, a GPPC member, a GSA Council member or Officer.
- If the GPPC finds merit in the proposal (and establishes a quorum vote in favor of it), then two GPPC members are tasked with writing the position statement proposal to be submitted to GSA Council for their consideration. Interested individuals with expertise in specific subject areas can assist GPPC members in writing the proposal, and then can also serve on the panel developing the statement.
To the extent possible, the draft position statement proposal should be in the format of a draft position statement, including draft sections on a succinct Position Statement, Purpose, Rationale, Science and Public Policy Aspects, and Recommendations. It is optional to add, in this point of the process, the section on Opportunities for GSA and its Members to Help Implement Recommendations. Accompanying the draft position statement proposal, GPPC should transmit to GSA Council; (i) the action requested of Council; (ii) a list of potential ad hoc panel members for drafting the position statement; and (iii) a list of individuals who identified the need for the position statement. The proposal is submitted to GPPC for review and comment.
- If the GPPC approves the position statement as revised, it is then transmitted to GSA Council
- Position statement development.
- If GSA Council approves the development of the position statement, an ad hoc panel is appointed to develop a draft position statement, and prepare for its review. It is highly recommended that a GPPC member serve on this panel.
- The GPPC then reviews the draft position statement.
- If serious objections are raised regarding the technical content of a draft position statement within five business days of distribution, then the position statement will be amended by the objecting individual or individuals and returned as amended to the ad hoc panel for technical concurrence.
- If there are no objections, the GPPC by a quorum vote approves the draft position statement for review and thereby agrees that the position statement is posted on the GSA web site and published in GSA Connection and GSA Today for comment. GSA may wish to have the statement copy edited prior to this review. The comment period should remain open for 45 days after publication in GSA Today, beginning with the first day of the publication month.
- Simultaneously, the draft and the approved position statement proposal are forwarded to GSA Council through the GPPC Council Liaison for preliminary Council comments.
- The ad hoc panel considers all comments and revises the draft statement accordingly.
- The ad hoc panel presents the revised draft statement to GPPC for review and comment.
- If GPPC approves by a quorum vote of the draft as revised, it transmits it to GSA Council for final review and comment. Alternatively, GPPC may collect member commentary and appoint an internal ad hoc panel to revise the draft text for clarity prior to submitting to Council. GSA can send the statement for formal editing at any time during the process.
- If Council approves of the draft, the draft position statement is finalized (pending final comment dispositioning) and published on the GSA website and in GSA Today.
- Existing position statement review.
- Each position statement expires five years after it is approved by Council. Prior to the expiration of the position statement, GPPC will appoint an ad hoc committee to recommend revisions to the position statement. GPPC members will be asked to serve on this panel and initially determine, with outside participants if needed, if the position statement requires minor (e.g., updating additions, some editing, and including format changes) or major (e.g., substantive conceptual changes) revisions.
- If no or only minor revisions are needed, then the position statement goes to GPPC for aquorum vote, and forwarded to GSA Council through the GPPC Council Liaison for Council approval.
- If the position statement requires major revisions, then the ad hoc panel develops a draft revised position statement on the subject.
- GPPC reviews the draft revised position statement.
- If serious objections are raised regarding the technical content of a draft revised position statement within five business days of distribution, then the draft revised position statement will be amended by the objecting individual or individuals and returned as amended to the ad hoc panel for technical concurrence.
- If there are no objections, the GPPC by a quorum vote approves the draft revised position statement for review and thereby agrees that the draft revised position statement is forwarded to GSA Council through the GPPC Council Liaison for Council approval.
- Council considers GPPC recommendations in deliberations regarding the disposition of the revised position statement.
- Council will determine if changes dictate that the revised position statement be posted on the GSA website and published in GSA Connection and GSA Today for comment, or if the revised statement is finalized (pending final comment dispositioning) and published on the GSA website and in GSA Today.
How can I recommend and assist in the development of a Position Statement?
Any member of GSA can request development of a Position Statement by submitting a proposal to the GPPC, as outlined above. The individuals originating the request are generally part of, and often chair the panel appointed to develop the draft Statement. Once Council has approved development of a new Position Statement, announcements posted on the Society's website and published in GSA Today invite the input and participation of GSA members.
How are Position Statements used?
Position Statements are used in various ways by the GSA, as an organization, and by individual members. At a fundamental level, each Position Statement is intended to inform and stimulate engagement by members of GSA. Many of the issues about which Position Statements are developed have relevance to and are debated at many levels of society and government. It is not uncommon for the GSA to submit information, including relevant Position Statements, to Congressional committees and government panels to assist in the deliberations of such groups. Similarly, individual GSA members sometimes use Position Statements when testifying before local or state-level government bodies. When an individual member of GSA uses a Position Statement in association with other information, including statements of individual opinion, it is important to distinguish clearly between a position taken by the GSA and positions taken by other organizations or by individuals.