Initial Publication Date: December 12, 2013

NAGT History

Kurt E. Lowe, Professor Emeritus, City College of New York, termed the story of NAGT "the spread of a great idea." This idea was the conviction that persons closely identified with geological education would benefit greatly through association and exchange of ideas and discussion of mutual problems. The idea germinated quite spontaneously on October 3, 1937, when five geology teachers chanced to meet for a few minutes at the close of the Fifth Tri-State Geological Field Conference at Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. These teachers had worked largely alone at their respective colleges and they agreed unanimously that they needed to get better acquainted and compare notes on their teaching and other common problems.

This small group met again on May 13, 1938, at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois. They and other colleagues endorsed the suggestion that a permanent association be formed. As a result, an "Association of College Geology Teachers" was created. Officers were elected and a committee was instructed to prepare a statement of purposes and constitution. At the 1939 meeting held at Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Iowa, these were adopted.

Meetings during the years 1938-1942 followed a general pattern involving two days in April or May. No annual meetings were possible during World War II. The Association resumed its annual meetings at the 1946 meeting at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois.

The 1946 meeting was an important one. The Association decided to encourage membership on the part of all concerned in any way with geological education and adopted the name, "Association of Geology Teachers." It was also decided to undertake publication of a Journal of Geological Education as soon as practicable, to replace the mimeographed proceedings, transactions, and news and letters.

At the Chicago meeting in 1949, members recognized that the Association could function effectively on a national basis only through the establishment of sections in different parts of the country. A plan was prepared whereby the country might eventually be subdivided into ten regions, each with a section of the Association having its own officers and holding sectional meetings to supplement the annual national meeting.

On November 18, 1950, an Eastern Section was organized at Washington, D.C., during sessions of the Geological Society of America. In 1951, the parent organization met jointly with the newly-formed Eastern Section at Detroit, again concurrently with GSA. Reorganization took place and the constitution was modified to provide for a national body, comprising two regional subdivisions, a Central Section and an Eastern Section and providing for future addition of other sections. Since the 1951 meeting at Detroit, the national meetings of the Association have been held concurrently with GSA. In April, 1951, the first issue of the Journal of Geological Education appeared.

In view of a healthy and accelerating growth, and the formation of sections, at the 1958 national meeting another name change was made. The society became the "National Association of Geology Teachers."

In October, 1991, the position of Executive Director was established and Robert Christman was appointed to this position. Then, in November, 1995, by vote of the members, the society changed its name to National Association of Geoscience Teachers and the publication became the Journal of Geoscience Education.

Except for the last paragraph, this account was published in the 1988 NAGT Membership Directory, which had been modified from an article By F. M. Fryxell, Geotimes, Vol. VI, No. 1 (July-August, 1961).