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Is it time to rethink the Geoscience narrative to save our discipline - what can you do as an individual?

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Event Date

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Event Location

Event Address

The Kelvin Club

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Event Details

You are warmly invited to join us for a talk by Dr Pete Betts (Professor, School of Earth, Atmosphere, and Environment and Associate Dean of Graduate Research at Monash University) on Wednesday 15th June from 6pm at The Kelvin Club. Admission to this event is generously free for members.

Is it time to rethink the Geoscience narrative to save our discipline - what can you do as an individual?

Australian Geosciences, and particularly geophysics is undergoing some serious challenges as a consequence of the COVID pandemic. Several University departments and schools have downsized, merged, or have been obliterated. Other departments have been spared but have had to modify and compromised their curriculums. This University challenge will soon become an industry workforce challenge if it is not already. The pandemic, however, is not the cause of these challenges, it has been merely a catalyst for a problem that has existed for decades in the geosciences.

Teaching geosciences is not a break-even activity for a university, it is expensive to teach, and student numbers declined between 2013 and 2021. Geosciences should be an attractive subject for STEM students, after all, it is the study of our planet.

What has gone wrong? In Australia, there has been an assumption that student numbers are linked to the boom-bust cycle. This statement holds true for Western Australia but becomes increasingly decoupled in the east. Further, the decline of geosciences as a discipline to study is a global phenomenon with Europe, UK, and North America also having a similar decline in popularity.

What has gone wrong? There is no single factor that can fingerprint the challenge. It is a combination of the association between geology and mining, and the negative impact on the climate change and trust. We have been generally poor at effectively engaging with influential advocates for our discipline such as Mum and Dads, schoolteachers and careers advisors, and we are generally very transaction in the way we talk about our discipline. This presentation will look at some of these challenges and highlight some of the simple things that we can do as individuals to improve the image and celebrate our great disciplines more effectively.


Speaker bio: Pete Betts is a Professor in Structural Geophysics at the School of Earth, Atmosphere, and Environment at Monash University. He is also the Associate Dean of Graduate Research, where he is responsible for the Ph.D. and Research Masters portfolio in the Faculty of Science. Peter is a geoscientist that straddles the geology-geophysics boundary. He has more than 25 years of research experience and diverse research activities that include geophysical analysis of Proterozoic basin systems, Proterozoic tectonics, and geodynamic modelling and geophysical interpretation of modern tectonic settings. He is currently undertaking research in the Red Sea, North Australian Craton, and New Zealand, and focuses his research on the influence of structural inheritance, Triple Junction initiation, and the geodynamics of congested convergent plate margins. Pete is the current President of the Geological Society of Australia and was the inaugural 2018 GSA Ambassador where he did a virtual tour of the country focusing on the "Geosciences narrative" - this presentation is an updated version that considers the impacts of the pandemic.


Note: light refreshments will be served at this event.

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