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University Geoscience UK: 'Future Science - a vision for the next 25 years'

21 - 22 February 2017
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Organised by:
Geological Society Events, University Geoscience UK (UGUK), Royal Astronomical Society, British Geological Survey
The Geological Society, Burlington House, London
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The aim of this meeting, organised by University Geoscience UK in conjunction with the Geological Society of London, the Royal Astronomical Society and the British Geological Survey, was to explore the future and the research challenges for the UK Geoscience Community over the next generation.

Aiming to define:

  • A vision for the next 25 years, encompassing the major research questions and challenges we, the UK geoscience community, should be addressing.
  • A roadmap to achieving this vision, using our collective strengths, in terms of scientific capacity and to map to and ultimately inform and influence policy makers and the funding landscape.

Anecdotal evidence and informal conversations with scientists in other disciplines reveal what geoscientists might consider a strange perception; that we have, as a discipline, solved all our major challenges, and that geology and geophysics are old with no big questions still to address.

This contrasts strongly with perceptions of astronomers, cosmologists, biomedical scientists, materials scientists and others. Indeed, many of these groups act collectively and are able to demonstrate to society the vital science yet to be done and, in doing so, promote their case for funding.

The geoscience community, now needs to come together to define the big challenges we should be addressing over the next 25 years, including both the fundamental science questions and the research needed to address societal needs, for safe, secure and prosperous lives, and for the sustainable management of the Earth’s resources.

The key questions this meeting sought to address included:

  • Grand Challenges: what big fundamental science questions are to be addressed in the Earth sciences?
  • Capacity: where are geoscientists currently in the UK science agenda, what are funding levels, our national capability, infrastructure assets, student engagement etc.?  
  • Funders: how well does geoscience fit with the strategies of NERC, EPSRC, STFC, Innovate UK and other bodies and how might we start to drive such RC strategies? 
  • UK geoscience on the world stage: how will funding change and how might opportunities arise from the enforced change in relationship between the UK, Europe and the rest of the world? 
  • Longer term picture: what is the long term outlook for our science, particularly given the understanding which is now emerging of the influence of humans on the planet and anthropogenically induced changes in the atmosphere, biosphere and even geosphere?

Following the meeting work will continue on the final document, “A 25 year vision and strategy for UK Earth science”, to be published later in 2017.


Beth House

Colin Snape

Jon Gluyas

Malcolm Brown

Marie Edmonds

Mike Stephenson

Sophie Laurie

Tony Watts

Following the meeting work will continue on the final document, “A 25 year vision and strategy for UK Earth science”, to be published later in 2017.