Council of Chairs of Canadian Earth Science Departments
Conférence des Directeurs de Départment de Géologie du Canada

A Council Dedicated to the Promotion of Education in the Earth Sciences at all Levels


As a result of an "Organizational meeting of Heads of Canadian Geology Departments" convened by W. Tupper, at the 1974 GAC/MAC meetings in St. John's (quotes are from official documents or letters), "A working committee of five representing the different geographic jurisdictions in Canada was appointed." with W. M. Tupper as Chairman; the four regions were as they are now plus a chairman. "Beer and sandwiches" were promised so attendance was good. Prior to that Ontario universities had formed what is now the Council of University Departments of Geoscience in Ontario.

The first meeting of the Committee of Chairmen, Canadian Departments of Earth Science took place at Carleton University on 23/08/1974. Those present were

The items discussed bear a remarkable similarity to more recent meetings, noting, amongst other things:

Thus was born the questionnaire.

The second meeting took place at the University of Ottawa on 19/10/1974. At this meeting the committee decided to use the discipline breakdown used by CUDGO and a document from their report pertaining to research and graduate instruction was circulated with the minutes.

It is interesting to note that although the Minutes are headed Committee of Chairmen, throughout the rest of the document they refer to themselves as "The Council". At the end of the document the word Council is scratched out and Ex. Committee put in - but the handwriting looks like mine! This ambivalence as to whether we were a Committee or a Council of Chairs continued for some years, to judge by the headings for calls to meeting and reports. A Council in 1975. Neither in mid 1976. A Committee again by the end of 1976. But by 1980 the term Council was firmly established. No doubt this was due in part to the the practice of finding a new Chair every year. There was no set method of electing/appointing members of the executive, so the business of Council and the process of data collection and representation was fairly informal for the first few years. The Chair of the Council became responsible for drawing up, printing and mailing the questionnaire and explanation sheet, and for collecting, assembling and analysing the data; since the Chair changed each year there were variations in how business and data collection was handled and numbers for the first few years are even more unreliable than for the past few years (for more on this see History of the Questionnaire). At the 1985 AGM in Fredericton a formal constitution was approved. The impetus for this was the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) which, as part of their manpower planning mandate for the solid earth sciences, wanted to know what was in the pipeline which could match the expected national and provincial needs and, if necessary by special grants, encourage interest in areas where there was an expected deficiency; for collecting these data the GSC agreed to support the Council financially but they could only give grants to organizations with a formal constitution. The constitution provided for two year terms for the Chair and an executive consisting of the chair and a representative from each of the West, Quebec, Ontario and the Atlantic provinces; nevertheless, it was still very much the responsibility of the Chair to handle all things pertaining to the questionnaire leading to variations in what was sent out and in the method of analysing and presenting the data.

The constitution was amended at the 1992 AGM where the objectives of Council were better defined by Article I. 2. "To foster, coordinate, and promote education, training, and research in earth sciences with particular emphasis on the needs, activities, and mandate of the earth science departments in Canadian universities." The French equivalent of the title proposed by the Québec provincial group Conférence des Directeurs de Départements Universitaire de Géologie du Québec (CDDUGQ) was accepted and the acronym CCCESD/CDDGC or CDDGC/CCCESD adopted.

As part of its mandate the Council has taken the initiative on a number of occasions. One of the earliest was the January 1981 workshop "Next decade of Earth Sciences in Canadian Universities" at which the idea of LITHOPROBE was first formally suggested. Over a period of years there were endless meetings about professional registration culminating in an Extraordinary General Meeting, in 1985, where 22 attendees agreed unanimously (a result unheard of before - and probably since) to an Official Position on the Licensing and Registration of Individual Geoscientists (see Geolog 1986 v15 Part 4, pp.39-43 for the full document). Representations have been made to NSERC and others about the withdrawal of support for universities in certain key areas of national interest (e.g. loss of ship time on DFO ships). Other problems have to be tackled at the provincial level, such as school curricula, but where there is not a provincial committee of Chairs the Council may write the arguments.

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