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Geo Career MaPS (Geoscience Career Master’s Preparation Survey)

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) and the Association of American Geographers (AAG) are conducting surveys of Geography and Geology Master's degree programs in an effort to determine the types of competencies taught and developed in graduate curricula (including internships and related professional training experiences). The results of the surveys, which will be administered in October and November 2013, will be compared to the outcomes of EDGE and recent workforce studies conducted by AGI, AAG, and other organizations that indicate the skills qualifications that geoscience employers seek for entry-level positions across public and private sectors. Funding for the research is being provided by a $109,842 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Geoscience Education program (Award GEO- 1202707). Heather Houlton (AGI, Project Director), Michael Solem (AAG, Co-PI), and Joy Adams (AAG, Senior Researcher) are leading the research. More details are available here.

 

Learning from International Practice: What is Mastersness?

As part of the EDGE project's international outreach and collaboration, EDGE researchers contributed a case study of "mastersness" to the Learning from International Practice (LFIP) initiative based in Scotland. The EDGE case study on the MS GIS program at the University of Arizona stems from a larger study of master's education in geography. Visit the LFIP website here for more information. 

 

Phase 2 (2009-2013): With renewed support from NSF, EDGE is now in a second phase of activity with a multi-year agenda focused on researching and improving geography graduate education for careers in business, government, and nonprofit (BGN) organizations.

EDGE Phase 2 has three major research components:

1) Through surveys and work logs, EDGE researchers will study the work activities and experiences of geography professionals employed by BGN organizations.  

2) EDGE researchers are planning case studies and industry surveys with a variety of employer organizations in an effort to improve understanding of the factors and trends shaping employment prospects for geographers.

3) Surveys and interviews with graduate programs are also being planned to explore the role of master’s education, including professional master’s degrees and certificate programs, in preparing geography students for BGN careers.

EDGE Phase 2 will also publish a variety of resources and sponsor workshops for career preparation and professional development.

In the coming years EDGE will continue to reach out in collaborations beyond geography’s disciplinary boundaries. The Center for Innovation and Research in Graduate Education (CIRGE) will conduct the external evaluation and share in the effort to communicate the project’s outcomes with employer organizations, graduate programs, and professional associations.

Phase 1 (2005-2009): In its first phase, EDGE implemented surveys, interviews, program observations, and work logs to improve understanding of the outcomes of master’s and doctoral education in geography and the value of geography education for careers in higher education, government, business, and non-profit organizations.

EDGE research discovered, for example, that employers foresee a rising need for geographic perspectives and technologies in a variety of industries.   Employers also noted the importance of skills in areas such as communication, writing, project management, collaboration and teamwork.

EDGE also developed quantitative and qualitative methods for analyzing departmental climate and the experiences of students in master's and doctoral programs in geography.  This information is being shared with geography programs in an effort to promote awareness and action toward building supportive academic and social environments for graduate students.

Research by EDGE and the Geography Faculty Development Alliance provided the empirical foundation for two books for faculty development: Aspiring Academics and Teaching College Geography.  The books offer engaging and practical advice to graduate students and early career faculty.  A companion website features dozens of workshop activities, discussion forums, and other community-building technologies.

The external evaluation of EDGE Phase 1 produced evidence of the project’s broader impacts, which include new and revised curricula in graduate programs, changes to career advising and mentoring practices, and support for annual departmental leadership and faculty development programs.

EDGE Phase 1 featured collaborations with Oxford University’s Centre for Excellence in Preparing for Academic Practice, the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, and the Carnegie Foundation’s Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning program.