Quote: Education Is Opportunity

Before writing this column I checked a few books and the Web to see what the wisest people in the world said about “education.”

“All learning has an emotional base,” was Plato’s quote.

“Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence,” was Robert Frost’s quote.

Actually, the more I tried to educate myself on the educators, the more I found myself getting confused. So I will just summarize by stating the Greek proverb, “Whatever is good to know is difficult to learn.”


Continuing education is an important program for AAPG.

During the boom of the late 1970s AAPG built a robust educational curriculum; since that time AAPG’s educational offerings have expanded or declined based on the vitality of the industry. Generally, 5-6 percent of AAPG members each year take advantage of our training programs, including field trips.

Every two or three years AAPG staff and members conduct an analysis of all AAPG programs to see which ones we should keep, grow or sunset. This year’s analysis recommends that AAPG should either “build up or sell out” on education.

This does not mean that AAPG’s educational program is “broken,” rather it means there is significant opportunity to grow! As a result, one of AAPG headquarters” key New Year’s resolutions is to make a major step-change in improving and expanding our professional development program.

After intense study last year we decided the best step was to make the education department into a separate “Education and Professional Development Directorate.”

Of course, a key part of building a new directorate is finding the right director. We were fortunate to hire Susan Nash, an AAPG member who has a long history of developing education programs around the world.

The new directorate will be responsible for AAPG short courses, conferences, field trips, Hedberg workshops, Distinguished Lecturers and AAPG’s oversight and support of the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council (PTTC). Susan also will provide oversight of AAPG’s K-12 activities.


One of the Education Directorate’s first goals is to conduct a “needs analysis” and build new curriculum. In the past AAPG has had success in finding new instructors who bring “cutting-edge” ideas to the membership.

Fortunately, Susan has a good staff to build on and several excellent committees to develop ideas and curriculum. The three key committees are:

  • The Education Committee, co-chaired by Janok Bhattacharya and Skip Rhodes.
  • The Research Committee, co-chaired by Ron Nelson and Ken Peters.
  • The Distinguished Lecturer Committee, co-chaired by Mark Cooper and Lee Krystinik.

Of course, there are several other AAPG committees that feed ideas into the education program.

In addition to committee support, Susan and her staff will be conducting interviews with industry representatives and the general membership to develop new opportunities.

Concerning PTTC – a key goal will be to work with PTTC to build a “two-way street” of educational opportunities that can be used both by AAPG and PTTC. One of the first of these programs is to build a strong shale-gas curriculum from upstream to downstream.


One of AAPG’s new mechanisms for training is our new Geoscience Technology Workshops (GTW). The development of this concept was led by Alan Wegener, AAPG’s director of global development and conferences. Alan helped develop SPE’s Advanced Technology workshops when he worked for SPE in the 1990s.

The purpose of our GTWs is to deliver up-to-date technical content to AAPG members and the industry. GTWs address current issues and challenges, and they will include geological perspectives integrated with those of other related disciplines.

The individual GTWs are organized by a leading expert on a particular timely subject. This lead presenter identifies presenters and works with the education directorate on curriculum. Staff from AAPG’s global development and conference directorate will handle worldwide logistics.

GTWs are designed for development in a relative short time period (less than six months) so timely information can be disseminated.


AAPG is looking for “a few good women and men” to teach new ideas. If you are interested please contact Susan.

“Education is opportunity.” That is my quote and I’m sticking to it.

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Director's Corner

Director's Corner - Rick Fritz
Richard D. “Rick” Fritz, an AAPG member since 1984 and a member of the Division of Environmental Geosciences and the Division of Professional Affairs, served as AAPG Executive Director from 1999 to 2011.

The Director's Corner covers Association news and industry events from the worldview perspective of the AAPG Executive Director.

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