Public forums at national meetings were often used in an effort to solicit broader community input and discussion. Although these were useful for information dissemination, they were not usually an optimum approach for reaching a community consensus. Conversely, planning workshops with smaller numbers of attendees and more focused agendas appear to have been the most successful mechanism for actually getting major ocean programs started. Workshops planned through the National Research Council have played an important role in this regard (e.g., WOCE, TOGA, JGOFS, and RIDGE). JOI has also organized workshops that led to major oceanographic programs (e.g., GLOBEC). Workshops organized and sponsored by professional societies (e.g., AGU-Chapman, GSA-Penrose) could also be used.

In most cases a scientific steering committee (SSC) was formed at the initial workshop, and it guided the ensuing planning. The planning workshops and resulting reports were a successful approach for incorporating a broad range of scientists from the community into the planning process. This approach seems to have worked well and should be used for future major oceanographic programs. Workshops are an effective way to start new programs if they:

  • actively recruit participants to include a diverse and broad-based spectrum of the community; thus ensuring that they are (and are perceived to be) open;
  • develop a product of high scientific credibility and broad based support in the community and in the funding agencies for program goals; and
  • solicit international attention and coordinate with parallel international activities.

In practice, the success of an initiative for a new major oceanographic program has relied on the vision and energy of a few key individuals. Efforts must be made to allow motivated individuals to act as advocates for ideas while allowing for ever-increasing involvement by the broader community.

International Decade of Ocean Exploration (IDOE) Programs

As discussed in Chapter 2, many of the existing programs can trace their intellectual roots back to programs developed and executed as part of the IDOE. To better understand how major federal initiatives can influence the development of programs, the committee reviewed the history of IDOE with the objective of drawing lessons for the future. Lambert (in press) also provided a summary of the history of major oceanographic programs at NSF.

During IDOE, ideas for projects originated entirely from individuals in the scientific community. For example, Henry Stommel provided initial inspiration for GEOSECS when he recognized that geochemical tracers had great potential for providing understanding of deep-ocean circulation and mixing. Ultimate

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