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Educating the next generation of geologists


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Author D R Cohen


As one of the four basic sciences, the study of geology is intrinsically worthy as a means of increasing fundamental knowledge of the behaviour and evolution of the universe. Geological knowledge can also be translated into practical outcomes for society such as resource discovery and protection of the environment. Australia has a long tradition of providing very high quality geoscience programs to prepare graduates for a range of occupations. We are, however, reaching a nexus in the way universities should or can deliver engaging programs. This has been triggered by the rapid evolution of the digital world (the Internet of Things), new technologies, unprecedented access to information, better understanding of the processes by which we learn and adapt our thinking, growing complexity in the problems we must face or opportunities to grasp, and university funding models. Designing education programs for the next generation of geologists extends far beyond tinkering with syllabuses. We must develop skills sets that will allow graduates to work in rapidly changing landscapes, but in doing so may have to sacrifice content to build capability in our graduates. Whereas universities must respond to changing demands on graduates by ensuring degree programs contain an appropriate balance of material and high quality of delivery, industry and government must also fulfil their responsibilities to provide additional training programs for graduates to assist their rapid transition into independent professionals. This paper examines various educational issues being considered in developing the new Decadal Plan for the Earth Sciences, and reflects on directions that education is heading in many of our universities.


Cohen, D R, 2017. Educating the next generation of geologists, in Proceedings Tenth International Mining Geology Conference 2017, pp 3–10 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).