Academic Earth science in transition



During the past 5 years, I have served on visiting committees for Earth science departments at Stanford, Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia, Cal-Tech, and the Geophysical Lab of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C. As chair of Princeton's department, I have also experienced external review from the other side of the process. These committees attempt to diagnose major problems, supply appropriate remedies, and target opportunities for improvement in matters ranging from faculty hiring to curriculum. One very useful service provided by a visiting committee is to help distinguish dilemmas that are truly local and unique to the institution from those common to science and society as a whole. A snapshot of the tensions and opportunities common to academic Earth science has emerged from these experiences.