BOX 1.1
Statement of Task of the NRC Committee on Opportunities
and Challenges for International Science at the U.S. Geological Survey

This study will describe how international collaborations and interactions support and enhance USGS strategic science directions and/or U.S. government national and international objectives. The study will also assess the benefits, opportunities, and obligations associated with USGS involvement in international science. In particular, the committee will

  • in collaboration with the USGS, provide a summary of past and present USGS international scientific interactions and collaborations. The committee will identify where these activities are most effective in supporting the USGS mission or U.S. government needs.
  • identify areas where USGS involvement in international activities would, over the next 5-10 years, have high potential to benefit USGS strategic science directions or U.S. government international priorities.
  • identify impediments to more effective USGS participation in international science activities.

The committee will not make any recommendations related to government organization, legal authorities, funding, or other policy choices to address such impediments.

conjunction with the recent reorganization of the USGS,3 as well as the continuing demand for Survey expertise on a variety of urgent international earth science issues, the USGS requested that the National Research Council (NRC) establish a study committee (Appendix B) on Opportunities and Challenges for International Science at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) (see Box 1.1 for the committee’s statement of task). The committee was tasked specifically to examine past and present international activities that support the USGS national mission, to identify priority international research areas for the coming 5 to 10 years, and to identify challenges to the USGS participation in international science activities. To address the study charge, the NRC assembled an eight-person committee with diverse backgrounds that allowed for a comprehensive examination of present and potential future USGS international activities (Appendix C). A more detailed description of the rationale for the current study follows.


Scientific Issues as Global Issues

The geography of the United States and its territories covers a significant portion of the globe, and many of the issues that are critical to U.S. national interests are inextricably


3 See (accessed January 26, 2012).

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