I’m currently sitting up with a bad case of jet lag after our great AAPG International Conference and Exhibition event in Istanbul, watching the movie “Remember the Titans” on TV.
I’m thinking I really ought to go to bed, but then I’m thinking … this is really a great movie.
For those of you who may not be familiar with this movie, it is based on the true story of the dynamics and impacts that occurred when an African-American football coach was appointed to lead a high school team during its first season as a racially integrated unit.
Critics praised the film, often pointing out that although the movie’s formula was that of a sports story, its real purpose was in being a parable about harmony.
So … I’m also thinking there are some parallels between what the “Titans” went through and what AAPG currently is going through.
In the movie the issue was integrating black football players with white football players. Obviously, that is not an issue for AAPG – but a barrier we do still face is integrating our U.S. membership and the “rest of the world.”
Frankly, I’m a bit confused by this perceived “U.S.-non U.S.” division among some of our members.
I got my start with AAPG via the RMAG (Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists). I have worked internationally, but I’m definitely a Rockies geologist (e.g. domestic member).
However, I, like past AAPG president and Sidney Powers award-winner Marlan Downy, ”want to have everyone who loves geology and earth science to be paying, participating members of our organization. No ifs. No ands. No buts.”
As I’ve traveled both domestically and internationally for AAPG since becoming a candidate, I’ve been overwhelmed by the tremendous enthusiasm of many of our members in all parts of the world – and especially the excitement displayed by our younger members as I connect with geoscientists from around the world.
I in turn am excited about the talent that all our members bring to the profession and to AAPG.
As AAPG moves into its second century I think it is important to think about our origins while being excited about our future.
In 1917 AAPG was a group of mainly U.S. geologists who were united by a passion for petroleum geology, a thirst for knowledge and a desire to elevate petroleum geoscience to a respectable profession. Our founding fathers may have been from Oklahoma or Texas or California, but their exploration target was the world.
In fact, two articles in the first issue of the BULLETIN dealt with exploration outside of North America (one, written by Dutch geologist and AAPG founder William A.J.M. van Waterschoot Van der Gracht, was on the salt domes of northwest Europe; the other, written by noted international geologist K.D. White, was on petroleum development in Colombia).
As our profession and our industry has become even more global, our AAPG family has expanded to include members from 128 different countries, and our international membership now comprises more than 40 percent of our total membership.
As that statistic would suggest, today’s demographics of AAPG members are quite diverse:
- Our members run the gamut from students to EPs (experienced professionals).
- We don’t all speak the same language.
- There certainly are cultural differences between us.
- Our employers and work environments are quite variable.
While these differences can sometimes make us feel a bit uncomfortable – or, like the “Titans” initially discovered, can even create barriers that limit our success – we still are a group of geoscientists united in our passion for petroleum geology and a desire to push the envelopes of our science and technology.
In the true story of “Remember the Titans,” the participants learned that once they realized they were more alike than different – they all wanted to be part of a winning team – the concept of unity and working together was more than just a good idea. It was a better way to approach life.
For AAPG, we too may face some challenges ahead in melding our domestic constituency with our international constituency.
Changes in perceptions are rarely easy to handle. Neither are some perceptions about change.
But I believe what unites us as geoscientists and AAPG members is stronger than what divides us – and I believe that as we focus on those things, the road ahead becomes a path worth taking.
The Titans found strength in unity. I’m very excited about how we all can contribute to AAPG’s future.