The IRIS Workshop as Outreach

The IRIS Workshop as Outreach Plenary Session from the 2010 IRIS Workshop.
<p>The IRIS Workshop is not usually considered to be an element of outreach, but it is. And here is why:
</p><p>No seismologist is an expert in all aspects of the field. Some, such as myself, were experts in some areas years ago, but my own career has drifted into a few niche specialties, only peripherally related to mainstream solid-earth seismology as currently practiced. Yet, I need to teach classes and advise graduate students, and serve on student committees. I can do that from a position of ignorance, or I can do it from a position of knowledge, and IRIS Workshops help me obtain that knowledge.
</p><p>I have long appreciated the IRIS Workshop for two major reasons: (1) it is always attractive to attend, being inexpensive for IRIS member representatives and in a nice location; and (2) it provides, in a couple of relatively painless days, an in-depth introduction to some of the most advanced and current topics of research. In one half-day session, I can learn about a topic of which I had been vaguely aware, and learn from the masters: speakers who had been invited based on their expertise and on their ability to present the topic well. In the course of one Workshop, I can learn enough about three or so different topics to go back to my home institution and teach the topic at the undergraduate or beginning-graduate level; I can speak intelligently with people on these topics; and I can point graduate students whose research may benefit, to the experts and/or top papers on the topic, and help those students understand it all.
True, the main reason for the Workshop is (probably) for the researchers to communicate with each other. But, to me, the main advantage of the Workshop is that it provides an opportunity to master subjects that would have taken tedious days of hard mental labor with published papers otherwise (assuming I would know where to start). It is outreach to people like me.</p>


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