AGU Launches Its Centennial Celebration


Headshot of Chris McEnteeWhen AGU was founded, nearly 100 years ago, the world was a very different place. However, despite the century’s worth of change between 1919 and today, the ability of Earth and space science to improve our society—and the desire of scientists to provide those benefits to humanity—has remained the same.

That’s why, as we approach the celebration of our Centennial, we are

  • using the energy of the past to start the next transformational era of Earth and space science;
  • preparing to connect, inspire, and amplify the voice and contributions of the Earth and space science community for the coming decades; and
  • bringing the global community together with the shared goal of transforming Earth and space science to meet the challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow.

Centennial festivities will formally commence at the 2018 AGU Fall Meeting, which will take place 10–14 December in Washington, D. C. Some exciting programs are already under way, and today I’m incredibly proud to be launching “100 Facts and Figures.”

Public Outreach

Centennial campaigns are designed to be replicable so that institutions, labs, and other organizations can create their own versions. From now through the end of December 2019, AGU will be running a series of public outreach campaigns designed to highlight different aspects of Earth and space science, including its diversity, its humanity, and its impact on society. These campaigns are also designed to be replicable so that institutions, labs, and other organizations can create versions of the campaign for their own history and tie them in with AGU’s Centennial celebration. You can see the beginning of the first campaign—“100 Facts and Figures,” an evolving collection of groundbreaking facts and figures that showcase the history, breadth, and success of geoscience research, as well as the scientists whose work has had, and will have, an impact on peoples’ lives—by following the Centennial hashtag, #AGU100, on Twitter and Facebook. I encourage you to share these campaigns with your own networks to help us spread the word about AGU’s Centennial and the importance of Earth and space science.

Science Storytelling

Our science has an immeasurable impact on society. That’s why we are focusing on, and encouraging you to join us in, sharing inspiring stories of breakthrough scientific discoveries, amplifying the message of their impact on our global society.

Using historians, professional story gatherers, and public story-sharing opportunities, the AGU Narratives project will feature an array of individuals telling the diverse and captivating stories of how discoveries and careers were made, where inspiration was found, and how challenges big and small were overcome because of advances in science. As part of this project, we have partnered with StoryCorps, which was present at the 2017 AGU Fall Meeting, to record interviews with a number of AGU members and others. Zoe Courville and Lora Koenig’s story—“Mommy, You Can Do That: Navigating Work–Life Balance Thousands of Miles from Home”—was recorded at the 2017 Fall Meeting, then aired live on National Public Radio. We are also inviting you to use the StoryCorps app to record your own story and upload it to a dedicated AGU Centennial community on the StoryCorps Archive website.

Local Engagement

By communicating your science to society, you are contributing to the Centennial goal of building support for the next 100 years of discoveries and solutions. Equally as important as hearing the voices of scientists is being able to interact with them, which is why we’re also encouraging scientists to consider organizing their own events. AGU’s Centennial is about amplifying the accomplishments and stories of the past 100 years to build support for the next 100 years of discoveries and solutions. To Earth and space scientists the world over I say: By communicating your science to society and inspiring the world to see how Earth and space science can create a more sustainable future for us all, you will be contributing to that important goal. We have an array of tool kits and resources to help prepare you to engage with a wide variety of audiences. If you or your institution are planning an event in celebration of AGU’s Centennial, please let us know, because we would like to share and promote your efforts. And please stay tuned, because in a few weeks we will be announcing a new competitive grant program designed to support such efforts.

A Sample of Our Centennial Programming

AGU’s Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX)—which was the first project conceptualized to commemorate the Centennial—continues to help volunteer scientists and community leaders work together to use science to tackle community issues and advance local priorities related to natural hazards, natural resources, and climate change. By 2019, TEX is aiming to launch 100 partnerships, engage more than 100 AGU members, catalyze 100 shareable solutions, and improve the lives of 10 million people.

Similarly, AGU’s headquarters building in Washington, which began its net zero renovation in early 2017, was envisioned as a living embodiment of our mission. Now that construction is nearing completion, we are excited to have the building help advance the understanding of the importance and impact of Earth and space science by showcasing real-world scientific advancement through innovative, sustainable technology and a series of Earth and space science exhibits. I can’t wait to welcome you into this exciting new space during the 2018 Fall Meeting.

AGU’s journals are home to an exciting Centennial program that is already under way. A set of papers has been commissioned to explore where major research and discovery are needed to address fundamental questions in our understanding of Earth and the solar system. Each paper will review the history of the topic and the current state of knowledge, describing major unanswered questions and challenges and discussing what is needed to achieve the vision or provide solutions over the next decades. AGU will use the collection to showcase our science to policy makers, funders, and the public.

Looking Forward to 2019

This ever evolving and ever-growing celebration is made by and for our community.  I am incredibly proud of each and every one of these examples. I’m equally proud to say that they are just one small slice of what AGU and our community have planned in celebration of our Centennial. This ever evolving and ever-growing celebration is made by and for our community, and I’m excited to see what kind of amazing ideas you come up with over the next 18 months.

Be sure to visit the Centennial website for the latest information about events, stories, and new ways that you can participate and lend your voice and energy throughout the year. We have a library of resources to help you plan your own events and be part of the Centennial, as well as inspiring stories from scientists around the world and fascinating information about the history and future of Earth and space science. You can even sign up to become a Centennial volunteer or nominate someone to be interviewed as part of the AGU Narratives project.

Through our Centennial, we step into the next era of scientific discoveries prepared to connect, inspire, and amplify the voices and contributions of this community for decades—even centuries—to come. We look forward to having you join in this journey.


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