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An Introduction to The Geological Society of America

The Geological Society of America™ is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of the geosciences. The Society was founded in Ithaca, New York, USA, in 1888 by some of the great geologists of the time, including James Hall, James Dwight Dana, and Alexander Winchell, who were members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. GSA is the first enduring society for the geosciences in America. The management of the Society's affairs is under the control of its elected officers (Executive Committee and Council). Learn more about the Society's history by reading this 1898 Presidential Address by J.J. Stevenson.

In 1968, GSA Headquarters offices moved from New York to Boulder, Colorado, and are now housed in a one-of-a-kind concrete and rock aggregate building at 3300 Penrose Place. Learn more about the building via our newly updated visitor's guide (PDF).

GSA is an expanding global membership society with more than 25,000 members in 103 countries. Thirty percent of its members are students. The Society's primary activities are organizing scientific meetings and conferences and publishing scientific literature. Other activities include disbursing research grants, operating an employment matching and interview service, honoring outstanding scientific contributors with medals and awards, assisting teachers in geoscience education, and fostering public awareness of geoscience issues.

An individual may join GSA as a Professional, Student, K–12 Teacher, or Affiliate member. Established GSA members may be nominated and elected to Fellow status. GSA offers reduced membership dues to students, teachers, senior members, and senior Fellows. Members receive special benefits, such as the monthly news magazine GSA Today, which is open-access online; the monthly e-magazine, GSA Connection; and reduced rates on GSA publications and meetings. All members have full voting rights.

The Society has published continuously since 1890, when the first issue of GSA Bulletin appeared. GSA Bulletin presently includes about 15 papers bimonthly in the classical, research-paper style. In 1973, the monthly journal Geology was introduced in response to the need for rapid publication of short, topical scientific articles. Today it features about 22 brief papers each month, and has become one of the most popular journals in the earth sciences. GSA Bulletin, Geology, Geosphere, and the Society's newest journal, Lithosphere, are also available online and on GSA Journals on Compact Disc through the GSA bookstore.

The Society has seven regional Sections throughout the world. The new International Section plus six in North America: Cordilleran, Rocky Mountain, North-Central, South-Central, Northeastern, and Southeastern. Sections have their own management boards and conduct their own yearly meetings. GSA members may affiliate with one GSA Section for free, and may join additional Sections for US$2.

Seventeen specialty Divisions, which any GSA member may join, generally meet at the GSA Annual Meeting. Most Divisions have their own newsletters, which are published at various times throughout the year.

A number of Associated Societies often meet in conjunction with the GSA Annual Meeting and assist in developing the scientific program, thus ensuring a broad range of topics.

In 1980, the Geological Society of America Foundation was established to receive and administer contributions in support of GSA's mission. As an independent, tax-exempt organization, the Foundation accepts gifts by check or credit card, wire transfers, stock, and by trusts or bequests to the Society's programs. Since its inception, the Foundation funded a portion of the historic Decade of North American Geology project, several education and outreach programs, and recently completed a $10 million capital campaign. The Foundation also contributes to the GSA research grants program, and supplies matching student travel grants for each of GSA's Sections.

A recent evolution at the Society has resulted in an energized collaboration, Education & Outreach, that links established GSA education and outreach programs, teaching awards, professional development, student development, research grants.

The earth sciences will face exciting opportunities brought about by the explosion of technology, research, and knowledge. The Geological Society of America is ready to meet the challenges of this decade and beyond.

Footnote: In the past, GSA has received funding from the Institute for Earth Science and the Environment (IEE), which offers several arenas for geoscientists to interface with public policy makers, foster mentoring relationships, and take an active role in heightening societal awareness of the fundamental importance of the geosciences to environmental challenges. IEE was created in 1989 and grew under the stewardship of its founder, Dr. Fred A. Donath, for the following six years. Dr. Donath believed that investing in IEE meant "investing in the wise use of the Earth." His original mission, "to offer a geoscience interface between the private and public sectors and the geological community on matters of the environment," remains IEE's central goal.