Department of Earth Science

Strategic plan 2011 - 2015

1. Introduction

Understanding and predicting the behaviour of the complex and evolving Earth system presents major challenges for the geoscience community. Responding to such challenges requires a multi-disciplinary approach that encompasses a wide range of physical and temporal scales and draws on concepts from across the geosciences and from other natural sciences.

The Department of Earth Science at the University of Bergen aims to play a leading role in geoscience research, building on the strengths of its research groups. The department has internationally recognised expertise in key Earth Science subjects and is involved in research collaboration at national and international levels. Our work is supported by access to state-of-the art infrastructure and a high level of external funding, including strong, long-term links with industry. The combination of world-leading expertise and the thematic organisation of research areas in the department, including three Centres of Excellence, position us well to take a leading role in palaeoclimate, geobiology, energy, marine research, Earth systems dynamics and polar research.

2. The Department of Earth Science – in short

The Department of Earth Science (GEO) has at present five research groups (Petroleum, Geodynamics, Marine, Quaternary and Geobiology).The department has high external funding on long term research contracts both with academic funding sources as well as industry and has a very good national and international network. The department has a tenured staff of 36 scientific (professor/associate professor) and 31 technical and administrative positions. About 220 bachelor students, 85 master students and 65 PhD students and post-docs are affiliated with the department. GEO runs a large number of geochronological and advanced analytical research laboratories housing a wide spectrum of modern equipment and has very good access to marine research platforms and large field equipment including research vessels.

3. Some key challenges

1. Potential declining financial resources and increased competition for external funding

2. Maintain the number of permanent academic and technical staff

3. Less continuous time being available for research due to increased faculty workload

4. An increasing number of students challenges the capacity and quality standards of teaching

5. Good labour marked – a threat to recruiting young scientists - in particularly concerning recruitment of Norwegian PhD candidates

4. Strategic directions and goals

The full version of this strategy has defined specific means to reach the aims set below, and will be followed up annually including a plan of action incorporated into the annual budget.

4.1 Strengthen research in selected disciplines and topics – and seek out opportunities in emerging fields


• Pursue cutting-edge research in the following area: Seismology, seismic, reservoir geophysics, potential field methods, geodynamics, sedimentology, stratigraphy, structural geology/tectonics, geochemistry, petrology, quaternary geology and marine geology

• Strengthen key research areas:
– Palaeoclimate research
– Geobiology
– Energy
– Marine research
– Dynamics of Earth systems
– Polar Research

4.2 Strengthen research by increased quality, productivity and accessibility


• Focus on basic research

• Increased external contact and internationaliasation

• Increased number of publications in high impact journals

• Maintain high ethical standards

• Maintain a highly qualified scientific, technical and administrative staff

• Provide high quality researcher training and attract the best candidates for PhD and post docpositions

4.3 Develop research by employing new approaches and methods


• Strengthen quantitative aspects in earth science research and teaching

• Ensure development, maintenance, replacement and access to of state-of-the-art equipment, laboratory facilities, research vessels and analyticaland computational facilities to strengthen research

4.4 Offer an Earth Science education of high quality incorporating a good balance of theoretical teaching and practical field and laboratory training


• To provide a high-quality research-based internationally recognized education

• Strengthen/expand relevant field, survey and laboratory training of highest quality to complement theoretic training

• Train students in critical reflection and independence, able to compete successfully on the international academic and labour marked

4.5 Increase awareness of the Earth sciences in the general public


• Increase the visibility and quality of presentation of geosciences to the general public

• Create interest in order to attract the next generation of earth scientists

4.6 Create an environment where employees can develop and thrive


• Establish a collaborative and productive intellectual environment that supports research and teaching

• Ensure a safe and secure environment for all employees and students

• Develop a well motivated staff