• describe and understand the earth;

  • minimize loss of life and property from natural disasters;

  • manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources; and

  • enhance and protect quality of life.

The connection between geography and the USGS is the Survey’s mission statement. Geography’s interests in hazards research, resource analysis, connections between social and natural science, and integrative spatial methods make the discipline vital to the future success of the Survey.

A summary of the committee’s conclusions and recommendations to achieve these contributions is organized according to the original charge to the committee. Specifically, the committee was charged to consider the following areas of concern to the USGS’s Geography Discipline:

  • The role of the USGS in advancing the general state of knowledge of the discipline (geography, cartography, GIScience);

  • The role of the USGS in improving the understanding of the dynamic connections between the land surface and human interactions with it;

  • The role of the USGS in maintaining and enhancing the tools and methods for conducting and applying geographic research; and

  • The role of the USGS in bridging the gap between geographic science, policy making, and management.

The components of the charge ask the committee to assess the role of the USGS in scientific activities. One general answer is that the Survey’s role in science is directly determined by the pattern of its culture and behavior:

  • If the Survey conducts cutting-edge research in geography, then its research advances the science;

  • If the Survey does not do cutting-edge research, but develops and disseminates tools and information products that help other researchers do their work, then the Survey indirectly advances the science;

  • If the USGS funds external research by others, it influences the direction of geographic research; or

  • If the USGS uses only the tools, information, and knowledge generated by others to carry out its mission, the Survey is merely a consumer and has no role in furthering the science.

The committee concludes that the Survey should follow the first three of these behavior patterns, but that at present the Survey does not exhibit an appropriate balance among them. The committee offers the following specific

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement