international objectives (Box 1.1), the remainder of this report is organized into five chapters. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the context and history of the USGS as a basis for understanding past and present drivers, priorities, and arrangements for its international activities. Chapter 3 addresses a key component of the committee’s statement of task, which states that the study will—in collaboration with the USGS—provide a summary of past and present USGS international scientific interactions and collaborations. The chapter additionally identifies where these activities have supported the overall USGS mission and/ or U.S. government needs.

Considerable input for Chapters 2 and 3 was derived from a document drafted by the USGS in response to a request from the committee to help inform this report (Appendix C). Although these two chapters present background and historical information without the views and analysis of the authoring committee, the committee recognizes the importance of evaluating which projects may return the greatest benefits to the Survey in the international arena. Indeed, the statement of task asked the committee to “identify where these activities are most effective in supporting the USGS mission or U.S. government needs.” However, a complete listing of all international activities historically and currently undertaken by the Survey was not available to the committee. Nor were other international project data available that would have enabled the committee to examine study effectiveness in a systematic and objective manner. Thus, rather than providing a priority ranking of those international activities that are most effective in supporting the USGS mission or U.S. government needs, Chapter 3 presents selected examples of international activities that demonstrate the breadth and depth of the USGS international engagement.7

Chapter 4, “Strategic International Science Opportunities for the USGS,” describes potential new international endeavors that the committee deems particularly compelling for the USGS to consider undertaking. This chapter addresses another component of the statement of task, which is to identify areas in which USGS involvement in international activities would, over the next 5 to 10 years, have high potential to benefit USGS strategic science directions or U.S. government international priorities. Chapter 5 addresses the final component of the statement of task: to identify impediments to more effective USGS participation in international science activities. Chapter 6 summarizes the committee’s major findings and recommendations.


Early in the 21st century, we are seeing rapid and accelerating global changes in the environment that directly affect humans. As populations increase globally and worldwide


7 Note that the committee interpreted “international” activities to include those where participating USGS scientists may or may not conduct physical fieldwork in a foreign country; for example, the committee includes in its descriptions some projects that involve collection and analysis of remotely sensed data.

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