VIEW FROM ACADIA
The past year or so will go down in the record books for many things from a planetary point of view. The most hurricanes in the North Atlantic basin (and all the subsidiary records associated with them), the Ontario heat wave, the Sumatran tsunami (how many of you even remembered that word from your first year classes before the events of last winter?), the price of oil and gas, the rate of activity and hirings in Calgary, the diamond production from the NWT, the Montreal Action Plan, and the list goes on. I doubt there has ever been a year in which the events and activities on our planet have been so newsworthy. Whether for good or ill, geologists have had opportunities like never before to be at the forefront of the public's understanding of the planet.
Here at Acadia we are equally aware of such happenings. Through the year we have participated in public forums on the tsunami, the flooding of New Orleans, and the cost of natural disasters - always to large and appreciative audiences. Rob Raeside teamed up with Bruce Matthews, Dean of Arts and expert in the religions and cultures of Sri Lanka and Myanmar (Burma) to present a 50 minute overview of the plate tectonic setting of earthquakes and tsunamis, and the likely political and sociological ramifications of the event. In spite of booking the largest classroom in the Beveridge Arts Centre, they had to shut the doors 10 minutes before the start as the room was filled to the extent that some people were sitting under the screen. They did a re-run a week later, to another filled classroom. Clearly, that event like no other caught people's attention, possibly because of the unexpected and unknown nature of the tsunami, as well as a result of the massive suffering it caused.
Hurricane Katrina happened at the start of the fall term, and we employed the services of Dr. Elisabeth Kosters, a Wolfville resident who worked in the Louisiana State Survey and studied delta Sedimentology at Louisiana State University in an earlier life, to explain the geological and political ramifications behind that disaster. Once again, a sizeable number of the local community came along to find out why. When such major disasters happen, people need to find a way to understand them.
We may have had success at communicating the processes of the Earth to the town and university. However, one of the other big stories of the year has not yet had a big effect on the university. The hiring boom in Calgary has penetrated to the east coast, with visits from groups like the CSPG to encourage students to look to the oil and gas industry for a career, and visits from recruiters to the industry. While the major companies are not coming in hordes to interview at Acadia (at least not yet!), smaller companies are certainly calling and dropping in. One consultant dropped by on a swing through the Maritimes, with the aim of finding 60 graduating or newly graduated geologists for projects his company had under way. Considering the total number of undergraduates completing degrees in all the earth sciences (Geology, Geophysics, Environmental Earth Science, Physical Geography, etc.) in Canada is only about 750 a year, it is not difficult to see a looming crisis in the supply of new graduates. We still await the promised boom in student enrolments when word gets out again to students entering university that Geology is once again employable (perhaps the graduates of the early 80's or late 60's remember the last couple of times this happened?)
Business in the energy industry is booming, but so is exploration in the minerals industries and employment opportunities the environmental sector are also plenty. It appears there has never been a better time to graduate as a geologist and some of our recent graduates have been in the enviable position of being able to pick their jobs from a list! You will see their experiences scattered throughout this newsletter. Let it be known that Acadia has space for budding geoscientists and a program to suit! If you know of a prospective student, please visit http://www.extremegroup.com/acadia/email_send/index.html to recommend them.