A. Almeida1, C. Vasconcelos2, C. Pereira3, J. Torres2, S. Moutinho2

1Lisbon Higher School of Education / Centre of Geology of Porto University (PORTUGAL)
2University of Porto, Center of Geology / University of Porto, Faculty of Sciences (PORTUGAL)
3Lisbon Higher School of Education / Interdisciplinary Centre of Educational Studies (PORTUGAL)
Geology has been at the service of an instrumental view of nature exploitation, providing the raw materials needed for economic development. Hence, its contribution to the mutilation of nature seems undeniable, and we only have to look at the terrible impacts of mining. But Frodeman (2004) explains that if this view has been dominant, it is only a part of the values that Geology can transmit. By focusing his action on the field, the geologist is dazzled by the unexpected, the obstacles, the beauty and the wisdom of the natural world, all of which creates a sense of reverence for the Earth (Turner, 2004). Simultaneously, the notion of geological time makes it possible to go beyond the anthropocentric view of time. "If the world is hundreds of millions or billions of years old, clearly we are a small part of a much greater story” (Frodeman, 2004, p. 162). Therefore, he maintains that as a result of these ideas a new paradigm is emerging in the field of earth sciences.

Based on these ideas, a questionnaire was applied to 36 graduate students who will teach geology (20) or will exercise other professions related thereto (16), in order to ascertain how respondents characterize the work of geologists, and their contribution to a fairer and more sustainable society.
The questionnaire covered several issues and in this paper we present the results of the following three: (1) and (2) Considering the following designations, - controller, lover, manipulator, admirer, explorer or mutilator of nature - choose the two that best describe the work of geologists and the term that least characterizes their work. Justify; (3) What can be the contribution of the geologist in a fairer and more sustainable society?
Between the two groups no differences were found in the frequencies of the answers. Therefore the results are presented together. The designations most commonly selected were “the explorer” (35) and “the admirer” of nature (18). The dominant rationale was that a geologist explores nature in order to know it better and to respect it and that leads to admiration for it. In fact, the two designations were selected together by 18 respondents. In contrast, the most infrequently chosen were “the mutilator” (16) and “the controller” of nature (11). By way of justification, although some respondents refer to mining, they argue that the role of geologists is always to contribute to minimizing environmental impacts. At the same time, they indicate that nature is some ways uncontrollable, giving seismic and volcanic phenomena as an example. Consistently, respondents mention that the role of Geology for a fairer and more sustainable society is the sustainable exploitation of resources (23) and raising of awareness of geohazards (12).

This study seems to show that future professionals have a less mutilating conception of the role of geology and even seem to evaluate nature from a less instrumental viewpoint. And they seem to go along with what Frodeman (2000) considers to be the awakening of geoscientific community to the importance of their role and their responsibility in society, thus transforming geology into a science that instead of supporting the mutilation of the planet, imposes limits, adding an element of caution to our plans and ambitions. Thus, future professionals will be able to implement the ideas they advocate in the present.