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Position Statement

GSA: Science, Stewardship, Service

 

The Importance of Teaching Earth Science

Adopted April 2004; Revised October 2005; Revised October 2011

Position Statement
The Geological Society of America (GSA) recognizes that basic knowledge of Earth science is essential to meeting the environmental challenges and natural resource limitations of the twenty-first century. It is critical that Earth-science education begin at the kindergarten level and include advanced offerings at the secondary school level, and that highly qualified Earth-science teachers provide the instruction. GSA recommends that the study of Earth science be an integral component of science education in public and private schools at all levels, from kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Purpose
This position statement (1) summarizes the consensus views of GSA on the importance of teaching of Earth science at the K–12 levels; (2) advocates for training at the college level that will produce highly qualified Earth-science teachers; and (3) provides specific recommendations and opportunities for advocacy and action by GSA members.

Rationale

This is a critical time for students to understand how Earth works as a system and how humans interact with Earth. Understanding the causes and potential societal consequences of natural Earth processes (e.g., earthquakes, floods, landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, weather, and global climate change) and the production, availability, and potential depletion of natural resources (e.g., water, soil, mineral, and energy) are of particular importance because they impact our economy, our security, and the safety and sustainability of our environment. The context for understanding modern Earth processes lies in deciphering records of Earth’s past. Investigating these records, as well as human interaction with modern Earth processes and resources, is therefore critical to the well being of humanity and the planet. Empowering students with scientific knowledge and skills to make informed decisions as citizens of our common home is a vital undertaking and a key responsibility for science educators and geoscientists.

Earth science is an integrated science, bringing together biology, chemistry, and physics as they apply to the workings of Earth. The applied, and often visual, nature of Earth science helps learners see the connections and relevance of science to their lives and their communities. Engaging students in learning about Earth supports the development of problem solving and critical thinking skills and highlights the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers to society. Therefore, Earth science can serve as an introduction to the life and physical sciences or as a capstone course requiring students to apply their knowledge of these sciences. Earth science can also serve as a framework for investigating life and physical sciences in museums and other informal education venues.

Recommendations

GSA encourages and supports the following:

 Opportunities for All to Broaden the Teaching of Earth Science in Schools

GSA encourages the following actions:

Scientists:

K–12 Educators:

School Administrators:

School Boards and Parent-Teacher Associations/Organizations:

Parents and Students:

Public Officials:

 Opportunities for GSA and Its Members to Help Implement Recommendations

The Geological Society of America encourages its members to:

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Position Statements adopted by GSA Council may be used freely in their entirety by members in public policy discussions on the scientific issues to which they pertain.

About the Geological Society of America

The Geological Society of America (GSA), founded in 1888, is a scientific society with over 24,000 members from academia, government, and industry in more than 90 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA advances the geosciences, enhances the professional growth of its members, and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. GSA encourages cooperative research among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geologic issues, and supports all levels of earth-science education. Inquiries about GSA or this position statement should be directed to GSA’s Director for Geoscience Policy, Kasey S. White, at +1-202-669-0466 or .

© The Geological Society of America, Inc.