Sunday, September 30, 2018

Considerations upon the goals

of the new "Geoethical Promise"

by Sandra Piacente
Sandra Piacente

Former professor of environmental geology and cultural geomorphology at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy), she is author of books and over 100 scientific papers on geomorphology, resources and natural risks, geoeducation, didactics of sciences and appraisal of geological heritage. Currently her interests are oriented to the ethical aspects of geological research 

As many of you already know, the new Italian graduates in Geological Sciences and Technologies and Earth Sciences of Modena-Reggio Emilia and Milan universities received a parchment containing the "Geoethical Promise" during the summer session of the Master degrees. The new graduates officially pronounced this promise, with great emotion.
I think it is important to express some thoughts and considerations, that might help in making this success even more effective and significant. This result was achieved under the positive influence and great satisfaction resulting from one of the most symbolic goals prefixed by the former Commission on Geoethics of the Italian Federation of Earth Sciences (Matteucci R., Gosso G., Peppoloni S., Piacente S., Wasowski J., 2014 – The Geoethical Promise: a Proposal. Episodes, vol. 37, n. 3, pp. 190-191; Piacente S. 2014 – La Geoetica. In: Panizza M., Piacente S., "Geomorfologia Culturale", pp. 318-322, Pitagora Ed., Bologna).
The officialization of this symbolic act is full of meaning for those who believe in the ethical and social value of our profession of geologists and in the cultural and educational strength of geosciences. This is without doubt an important step towards the improvement of studies and research in the wide field of knowledge of the dynamics of our planet, especially as regards the topics of risks and natural resources.
This implies a full awareness of the social role and authoritativeness of the geologist's role. Indeed, this specialist should be the first one to acknowledge his/her role and pose him/herself as a protagonist on the debates concerning the responsibilities on the problems regarding the Earth's dynamics. In order for this to occur, it is necessary to operate before the final phase of declaration of the master degree in Geological Sciences. Therefore, the "Geoethical Promise" should be the result of a preparatory phase developed along the whole course of the studies, in order to understand fully its importance, and cultural and social implications. In the opposite case, there is the risk of presenting to the new graduates only a nice piece of paper. This might gratify them at first, but it would be just one of the many declarations of good will that they could receive during their professional life or teaching and research activities.
Through his/her own research and abilities, each teacher must find the right words and methods in order to disseminate the ethical importance that should permeate the work of future geoscientists. This is true especially in an epoch like ours, characterised by widespread environmental degradation resulting from a lack of generalised responsibility towards the conservation, safety and improvement of all the assets of our Planet. Consequently, a new and urgent responsibility is needed, affecting the structure of the whole degree course. Therefore, not only «the commitment which involves the new graduate», but first of all the irremissible values present in each course. This can be achieved with a common look towards both the past, considered as an inalienable pillar to refer to (even in a critical sense), and the future, which will be more demanding but in any case different and more responsible.
This is also a way to reaffirm trust towards science and its unifying power, in order to attain a cultural thought more inclined to comparison and cooperation.
The aims are to promote a new educational and cultural institutional context to be achieved also by means of a constant and more open debate, involving the diverse souls of our disciplines. This requires the overcoming of some intellectual laziness, often caused by institutional commitments and duties – although not justifiable – which sacrifice and obscure the great ethical resource inborn in the heritage of geological knowledge.

The "Geoethical Promise":

Translation of the "Geoethical Promise" in 35 languages:

IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics