Geo-scientists From All Over The World Converge In South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – Are you interested in climate change, earth history, water and mineral resources?

The Wits School of Geosciences in the Faculty of Science invites you to the 6th Quadrennial Conference of the International Geoscience Educators Organisation (IGEO) at Wits from Monday, 30 August to Friday, 3 September 2010.

Geoscience Education is less well developed than other fields of science education such as physics, biology and chemistry. In order to strengthen the field, educators at all levels, in both informal and formal contexts, need to collaborate to improve practice, pedagogy, curriculum development, and research.

The meeting is jointly hosted by the GeoScience Educators Association of SA (GEA), the Geological Society of South Africa (GSSA) and the International Geoscience Education Organisation (IGEO).

Dr Ian McKay, convener of GeoSciEd6 and a Geologist at the Bernard Price Institute of Palaeontology at Wits University said: “We live in an age of unprecedented prosperity, with developing nations entering a period of growth to increase living standards to the level of the developed world. This growth will require development on an enormous scale, and will be fuelled by increasing and more efficient use of resources and mineral wealth.”

“Simultaneously, there is increasing global awareness that environmental effects such as environmental degradation, natural hazards, climate change, pollution, and loss of natural beauty must be minimised or eliminated. At the same time non-renewable mineral resources are becoming more difficult to locate in sufficient quantity and concentration,” says McKay.

“The public also need to understand the earth and evaluate the environmental and developmental challenges facing us. Can science maintain and improve the standard of living of richer communities whilst developing the poor to the same level? What natural beauty, ecosystem diversity, and geological heritage are being lost? What are the natural hazards that we need adapt to or mitigate? What do the public need to know, what actions do they need to take? Can geotourism and geoheritage sites be used to develop communities? All the above need to be communicated and explained by Geoscience educators taking into account the cultural, economic and political systems within which they operate,” says McKay.

The IGEO, an affiliate to the IUGS (International Union of Geological Sciences), is the largest international organisation dedicated to addressing the above issues. The society holds conferences every four years interspersed with sessions during the International Geological Congresses. The 2010 conference is held under the theme Geoscience Education – Developing the World.

South Africa, as one of the world’s successful developing nations, is a natural choice for this conference, and is a sought-after travel destination for professionals and tourists.

The conference will have representation of delegates from all over the world and is unusually diverse with delegates from 34 countries.

The conference will be opened by Dr Phil Mjwara, Director-General in the Department of Science and Technology. Well known geoscientists who will be speaking at the conference include Chris King, Professor of Earth Science Education at Keele University in the United Kingdom and Nir Orion, Professor in the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.

The Alex du Toit Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Prof .Terence Mccarthy from Wits entitled The Okavango Delta and its Place in the Geomorphological Evolution of Southern Africa, on Thursday, 2 September 2010. The conference will include a special session on Using Geo-heritage to educate and will close with a two-day workshop on Building Capacity in Geoscience Education in the Developing World.

For more information, email Dr. Ian McKay at or