Working through GSA to impact public policy; the many wonderful (ab)uses of GSA position statements

Richard C. Berg, D. Craig Cooper, James F. Davis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Exploration of the Geosciences is more than just research and teaching. It helps us to better understand our relation with the world around us; and often leads people who consider themselves to be "geoscientifically aware" to become interested in public policy. GSA supports and encourages these outreach activities through multiple initiatives; with one of the most important being the development of position statements to encourage and support member engagement in public policy initiatives. These 1-2 page documents, developed through a "slow, rigorous, and sometimes painful" process, provide a consensus view of the GSA membership on public policy issues that involve the geosciences. They provide key message points, and supporting information, for geoscientists to use when communicating with decision makers and local/regional stakeholder groups. They also provide a "3rd page" that provides suggestions for how GSA members can beneficially impact public policy in a given area. While valuable, these statements are not effective unless GSA members employ them in an effective manner. To be effective, a policy communication must be understood, be believed, and motivate people to take action. Unfortunately, geoscientists are often misunderstood, not convincing when we rely heavily on technical data to make a point, and usually have not been taught how to motivate people to take action. This presentation will provide a primer on GSA position statements, and suggest ways to use these statements to impact public policy--while avoiding common mistakes and abuses.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAbstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America
Subtitle of host publicationGeological Society of America, Rocky Mountain Section, 61st annual meeting
Place of PublicationBoulder, CO
PublisherGeological Society of America
ISBN (Print)0016-7592
StatePublished - 2009


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