|FROM THE EDITOR||December 1998|
"If I have been able to see further, it was only because I stood on the shoulders of giants." These words of Sir Isaac Newton, written to fellow Royal Society member Robert Hooke, undoubtedly reflect on his intellectual journeys. I'd wager that all scientists genuinely feel this sentiment as they finish projects or survey their careers.
It is also a befitting sentiment as we conclude this 50th anniversary year of the American Geological Institute and reflect on AGI's accomplishments. Would anyone deny that the leaders of AGI today can "see further" because they stand on the broad shoulders of AGI's founders? A. I. Levorson, William B. Heroy Sr., Carey Croneis, and the other leaders of the original 11 member societies struggled to create a forum representing diverse interests, disciplines, and opinions. The challenge for those who have followed has been to maintain this coalition.
Immediate past president Susan Landon surveys the current AGI landscape in this issue's "Comment." Her highlights include essential reference publications such as the Glossary of Geology and the Directory of Geoscience Departments; GeoRef, the world's largest and most frequently used geoscience bibliographic-citation database; education projects such as EarthComm, a new high-school curriculum project; numerous human resources surveys and reports; the informative and successful Government Affairs Program; and multiple web offerings now available at <agiweb.org>. These programs and products - representing only a handful of activities underway - illustrate AGI's ability to develop and manage a variety of multidisciplinary initiatives that serve the geoscience community.
The need to embrace diversity is also critical for scientific research - particularly today as discipline boundaries merge and become indistinct. Multidisciplinary collaboration has become the battle cry of all fields. It is also a recurring theme in this month's issue. In our cover story, Richard S. Nicholson, executive director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and publisher of Science, describes the state of the organization in its 150th year. He explains how AAAS has embraced diversity over its long history and how it plans to foster scientific research into the 21st century.
Our second feature brings back the voices of past leaders of AGI. Twenty-two past presidents look back and reflect on the accomplishments and challenges they faced during their time in office. Without their dedication to developing and maintaining a collective voice for the geosciences, AGI would not be the effective organization it is today.
At AGI's 50th anniversary symposium, The Future of the Earth Sciences: The Challenges and Opportunities of Multiple Disciplines and Diversity, last month, four speakers from outside the geosciences talked about the need for integration and collaboration in their own professions. The speakers, S. James Adelstein (executive dean at Harvard Medical School), Paul S. Anderson (senior vice-president of DuPont Pharmaceutical Co. and past president of the American Chemical Society), John Vander Sande (dean of the School of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), and Craig Anderson (president of the National Council of Churches) were interviewed by Geotimes managing editor, Jan Childress. Their comments are enlightening and stress the need for a multidisciplinary social perspective to all aspects of science and engineering research.
This has been quite a year for AGI - a year of reflection, planning,
and celebration. The institute has certainly moved through interesting
times to its current position of strength. Let's hope our future leaders
say the same 50 years from now when it's their turn to look back.
Happy holidays and good reading.
Victor V. van Beuren