Special AM Edition
Today in the Charlotte Convention Center, Ballroom A • 12:15–1:15

Where Our Deepest Passions Intersect the World's Compelling Needs
    A good place to be in our professional lives is where our deepest passions intersect the world's compelling needs. This is true at many levels: the passions that motivate us individually toward accomplishments we deem meaningful; the passions that motivate us as disciplinary communities of geoscientists toward advancement and cogent application of knowledge; and the passions that motivate us as a geological society in carrying out our mission in ways that positively impact individuals, communities, and the world at large.
    "Passion" in this context is recognizable as unusually high enthusiasm toward what we do and how we do it. Geosciences and geoscientists would be on the short list of disciplines and professional communities marked by verve. In the humanities and arts, verve is the spirit and enthusiasm animating artistic composition or performance. At our best, we have it in our elevated engagement in learning, discovering, communicating, and in solving "hairy" problems, both fundamental and applied. We should think of these intangibles as tangibles, whether functioning as individuals, as communities, or as The Geological Society of America.
    Individually and collectively, our scientific achievements as geoscientists have tremendously expanded in scope and impact in the past several decades. Moreover, the specific character of the threats our world faces — ignorance, thirst, hunger, environmental degradations, shortages, excesses, hazards, climate change — must be viewed as "our call" for the best we have to offer, and at this moment. We are in fact the only scientific community that can actually "picture" what happens right at, beneath, and deep beneath Earth's surface today, at any spot on the globe. Moreover, we are the only scientific community that can "picture" past subsurfaces in relation to past oceans and past atmospheres over the spans of vast time and ever-changing circumstances.
    Yet, with all of our verve, passion, knowledge, and experience, we still struggle to engage K–12 education, to transform public policy where needed, to reach adult learners, to find our most effective public voice(s) on difficult topics, and to build the new workforces we know we need. As the purview of the geosciences expands and our presence becomes increasingly vital, The Geological Society of America is right to be distinguished by a broad and encompassing mission scope; needs to resist fashionable, new-millennium corporate temptations to retreat into narrow niche-mission markets; and must continue to adapt itself (i.e., adapt ourselves) to support individual geoscientists, individual disciplinary communities, and the profession writ large, thus helping to harness all of us in enlarging the quality and dimensions of our impact on and within society.


George Davis
George H. Davis