The development of big issues and ideas for AGCC 2018
An outline of the technical program for our inaugural Australian Geoscience Council Convention (AGCC 2018) was published recently, when geoscientists were invited to engage directly with planning the program. The technical program will provide the opportunity for all geoscientists to communicate their work to a wide audience, and to hear about relevant developments presented by other geoscientists in multiple fields. Essentially, this broad program will provide the ‘bedrock’ of AGCC 2018 in a format familiar to regular attendees of the AESC, IGC and other large events. As is always the case, these sessions will be predominantly self-organising mini-symposia, strongly influenced by the actual papers that you submit as speakers, with guidance from our member organisations (eg, the International Association of Hydrogeologists) and overall direction by the Scientific and Technical Committee.
A proposed new approach
AGCC 2018 will provide opportunities to examine and consider some of the emerging issues that affect us all in geoscience. We anticipate these will be topics that attract attention from industry, government and academia, while also creating opportunities for non-geoscientists to engage and participate in our deliberations in Adelaide. This interaction will be a significant differentiator of this convention and will help us achieve our vision to ‘raise the profile of geoscience to be pre-eminent in Australia’. We also hope to expose delegates to ideas they would not normally engage with in routine technical talks, and to attract those people who don’t normally attend our various member organisation conferences.
To do this, we plan to have several focused discussions that raise the Big Issues, explore the Big Ideas (hopefully some including new approaches and directions for some of the Big Issues!) and reach consensus about providing commitment and support for ways to take geoscience forward. We are aware of the value of strategic planning and believe that exciting times are ahead for geoscience. Some of these have become apparent to many of us during the current formulation of a new Decadal Plan for Earth Science, sponsored by the Australian Academy of Science.
An example of one topic we favour will be built around the early commitment to attend by Iain Stewart, Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute in Plymouth, UK. Iain is a riveting speaker who is passionate about geoscience communication and education. We will hold a plenary session on this topic with additional key thinkers, an interactive question and answer session, the opportunity during the day to formulate an agreed convention position and a summing up statement (press release) that will be issued. We look forward to your thoughts on the merits of this approach and your likely level of commitment and engagement.
What are the big issues and ideas in geoscience?
We are seeking ideas about the Big Issues (and Big Ideas) that you want to explore, and about possible champions of these that will attract widespread community interest, support from major sponsors and the attention of policy makers.
At this stage, we have a think-tank subcommittee that has formulated the following possible topics from a much larger field of possible candidates:
- The future of the nuclear cycle in Australia
- Unconventional gas and energy security
- Resource-driven development of regional and northern Australia
- Reducing the impact of the boom-and-bust commodity cycle on Australian geoscience
- Geoscience education and communication.
Other possibilities could be the ever-increasing role of automation (robotics), improved drilling technologies, innovative geological models and the search for novel or unusual commodities, although these might be addressed comprehensively in the broad technical program. We are seeking your input on:
- possible world-class thinkers to help us develop these or other topics
- your own possible contributions eg, five-minute spoken position statements framing the issues and ideas
- your interest in participation
- your thoughts on our proposed approach (eg, whether these should be spread across the four days of the convention or all addressed on a single day)
- whether these are the topics most important to you as geoscientists.
To reiterate, the broad technical basis of AGCC 2018 will allow us all to present papers on our specific technical interests (subject to acceptance by the Scientific and Technical Committee), which are of course very wide ranging and inclusive. There will no doubt also be embedded mini-symposia sessions covering the collective interests of many diverse groups and of our member organisations (eg, UNCOVER, JORC, Valmin).
We are now seeking your thoughts on the BIG ISSUES and BIG IDEAS component of AGCC 2018. To let us know your views, please get in touch with any member of the Organising Committee at our website: https://www.agcc.org.au/committee.
On behalf of the AGCC 2018 Organising Committee