Ethics & Compliance Update [17 July 2020]
Almost 2 years have passed since GSA hired an Ethics & Compliance Officer to oversee GSA’s ethics
programs and projects. We created this position because ethics is fundamental in the work we do as
geoscientists, and our Society is committed to playing a leadership role in this important area.
Ethics Program Framework
GSA has implemented several policies, procedures, and programs to guide GSA members and event
participants in fostering a culture of integrity, respect, and scientific excellence. A few examples
- Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct (“Code of Ethics”). Sets forth aspirational and
mandatory conduct standards for GSA members’ professional activities.
- Ethics Disclosures. Requires individuals selected for honors, awards, and leadership roles
to certify their compliance with GSA’s ethical standards.
- Events Code of Conduct. Establishes a conduct standard for all individuals who participate
in GSA meetings, field trips, and other GSA-sponsored events.
- Respectful, Inclusive, Scientific Events (RISE) and Complaint-Handling Procedures.
Encourages individuals to report conduct concerns so that GSA may respond appropriately and fairly.
GSA follows established procedures to ensure that all complaints submitted under the Code of Ethics and
Events Code of Conduct are promptly addressed and managed properly. We also provide the GSA Council –
the Society’s governing body – with bi-annual summaries of such cases. This oversight prevents cases
from being “swept under the rug,” identifies patterns of conduct that GSA can address through policy
changes and outreach, and enables GSA to identify ways to continuously improve our ethics program.
In 2019, GSA received a total of eleven reports, including three complaints about behavior at
GSA-sponsored events, one publishing-related complaint, and seven complaints arising under GSA’s Code of
Ethics. As is our practice, GSA investigated each of these cases. While the complaints involving GSA
events and publishing did not result in adverse findings, in April 2020, the GSA Council determined that
two GSA members violated our Code of Ethics or bylaws and should be disciplined. Of the five remaining
Code of Ethics cases, two were closed without findings and three are pending.
For privacy and confidentiality reasons, GSA does not release details about specific ethics cases.
However, when the GSA Council determines that a member has violated the Code of Ethics, it may direct
GSA’s Executive Director to carry out whatever disciplinary action it deems appropriate. A
non-exhaustive list of examples includes restricting a member’s attendance at GSA events, revoking
honors and awards, and terminating membership.
Please refer to GSA’s Ethics Homepage for additional details about our ethics
This update was originally published in the July 2020 issue of GSA Today, page 31.