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Find Your Science at GSA
Current White Papers
GSA National Leadership Initiative
Read the latest on GSA's National Leadership Initiative (NLI), a plan to further its core mission, and address the need for more effective communication among the Society, its members and their initiatives, and national, state and local policymakers and agencies.
The Impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Louisiana: America's Coasts Under Siege
From GSA, The Pontchartrain Institute of Environmental Studies, and the University of New Orleans, February 2006
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GSA White Papers

topWhat is a White Paper?

White Papers, along with Position Statements and posted Critical Issues, are developed by the GSA to explore issues of direct and immediate concern to the GSA membership and the greater geoscience community. Whereas Position Statements are relatively brief and focused, White Papers provide a more expanded exploration and discussion of relevant issues. White Papers may be developed for an associated GSA Position Statement, or for a Critical Issue for which a Position Statement has not yet been developed.

topWhy does GSA develop White Papers?

GSA develops White Papers to provide support for and more in-depth exploration of the issues raised in Position Statements and Critical Issues, to inform geoscientists and others who may wish to further explore the topics in more detail, or who may be somewhat unfamiliar with the topics, and to provide information that may assist policy makers in their decision making. White Papers can also provide references to related documents for those who wish to pursue the topic further. Whereas Position Statements are brief and succinct, White Papers, without a specific size limit, are used to augment or expand upon a Position Statement or Critical Issue.

topWhat is the relationship between White Papers and the GSA's Vision, Mission, and Goals and Objectives?

White Papers, along with Position Statements and Critical Issues, as listed on the GSA web site, are vehicles through which specific elements of the Society's Vision and Mission can be applied. The GSA "Vision," states that the GSA will support "the application of geoscience knowledge and insight to human needs, aspirations, and stewardship of the Earth," and the Mission Statement calls for the GSA to "promote the geosciences in the service of humankind." White Papers are used to elaborate on both Position Statements and Critical Issues, and all three support the Society's Vision and Mission. Likewise, the Society's Goal 5 is "to promote geoscience in the service of society," and to "actively foster dialogue with the public and decisionmakers on relevant geoscience issues by developing and advertising GSA position statements on issues of importance to the Society." Thus, White Papers are a tool that GSA uses to put its Vision, Mission, Goals, and Objectives into practice.

topHow are White Papers developed and approved?

The request for a White Paper can originate from an individual member of the Society, from one of the GSA Divisions, from within the Geology and Public Policy Committee (GPPC), or with an Officer or Council member. The proposal to develop a White Paper is presented to the GPPC, which, with input from others outside the Committee, if and as appropriate, will approve and forward it to the President/or Executive Director, or reject the proposal. The proposal must include a clear statement of (i) the key points to be addressed by the White Paper, (ii) the justification for the Paper and its relevance to the Society and the geoscience community, (iii) identification the proposed author(s), and (iv) the names of the individuals who originated the request. Upon approval, the author(s) is requested to develop a draft of the White Paper and a notice announcing the development of the White Paper is posted on the GSA website and published in the Society newsletter, GSA Today. When the author(s) completes the draft, it is presented to the GPPC for review, comment, and ultimately approval. The GPPC may request that the author(s) consider certain changes or additions. Following GPPC approval, the draft of the White Paper is submitted to the Society's President and/or Executive Director, who may request changes or additions before final approval. Upon approval by President and/or Executive Director, the White Paper is posted on the Society's website and depending upon the length, the paper or an abstract may be published in GSA Today. The GPPC will review the White Paper periodically to determine its current relevancy and the Paper may be removed from the website.

topHow to recommend and assist in the development of a White Paper?

Any GSA member can propose a White Paper by submitting a proposal to the GPPC, as outlined above.

topHow are White Papers used?

As noted above, White Papers are used to put the Society's Vision, Mission, Goals, and Objectives into action; however they may be used in various ways by the GSA and by individual members. At a fundamental level, the White Paper is intended to expand upon Position Statements and Critical Issues and to stimulate dialogue among members of the Society as well as within the geoscience community at large. White Papers, Position Statements, and Critical Issues all have relevance at many levels of society and government. It is not uncommon for the GSA to submit information, including relevant Position Statements and supporting White Papers, to Congressional committees, government panels, or members of Congress to assist in their deliberations. Similarly, these documents are readily available to GSA members and others who testify before local, state, or Federal bodies. In such testimony, it is critical to have well documented the position of the Society in the issues, and the White Paper can provide this documentation. Finally, White Papers can aide in disseminating basic geoscience information, as supported by the GSA.