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Geoethics: Master’s Students Knowledge and Perception of Its Importance

Abstract

In the 1990s, the field of geoethics started its development, associated with a set of ethical principles that regulate the profession of geologists in their relationship with society and with nature. Given the importance of this field, but also its youth, 36 higher education students attending a Master’s of Geology course were surveyed (20 were from an educational branch and 16 were from a scientific branch). The questionnaire applied to them aimed to achieve the following goals: (a) to identify the knowledge of the respondents about this new field and to verify their position about the inclusion of geoethics in the curriculum, (b) to understand how they consider the importance of geological knowledge in political decisions and (c) to investigate possible differences in the thinking of the respondents, given the specificities of their educational branches. The study concluded that the field of geoethics is unknown to the majority of the respondents. However, the recognition of its importance was also verified, after getting familiar with the definition of the concept, as well as the need for its inclusion in formal education. The respondents also considered relevant the creation of a deontological code that could provide geologists with ethical guidance. They also considered that geology should influence political decisions, but they did not consistently recognise the limits of its influence, which seems to reveal the need of a deeper understanding of the specific nature of geological knowledge when compared with other sciences. Almost all the results were similar in both groups, but the students from the educational branch offered more elaborate answers about the issues present in the questionnaire.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Portugal has 12 years of non-superior schooling. The basic education is the first 9 years divided in three cycles, respectively, of 4, 2 and 3 years. Secondary education is the 3 years after basic education.

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Correspondence to Clara Vasconcelos.

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Almeida, A., Vasconcelos, C. Geoethics: Master’s Students Knowledge and Perception of Its Importance. Res Sci Educ 45, 889–906 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11165-014-9449-3

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Keywords

  • Geoethics
  • Deontological code for geologists
  • Geology and society
  • Geoethics and formal education