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DLESE Articles of Federation

The Articles of Federation were drafted by David Mogk and Chris DiLeonardo, at the direction of the DLESE Steering Committee. Community input was solicited at the 2000 Annual Meeting. The articles were adopted by the Steering Committee and the community in the April 2001 voting process, to enable community-wide collaboration.


The Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) has been established by the community of learners and educators to provide a national resource for Earth science education at all levels. The Earth system as an overall focusing theme has been adopted, not only to provide for the broad needs of Earth science education, but also to provide an interdisciplinary framework for integrating the Earth, physical, biological, social, and mathematical sciences and engineering disciplines. DLESE will be built in response to community needs and interests. As a community-owned and operated institution, DLESE will provide a scholarly environment predicated upon cooperation and sharing of knowledge, tools, methodologies, and related resources. This document establishes guidelines for communal, collaborative interactions among the diverse partners contributing to Earth system education. To ensure inclusion, representation, and empowerment of the diverse interests encompassed by the DLESE community, and to establish the means for these individuals and groups to effectively work together, we hereby adopt these Articles of Federation.

Article 1

Role and Scope of DLESE

1.1 The function of DLESE is to support Earth system education at all levels, including K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and informal education. The guiding principle will be to provide access to high-quality, scientifically sound educational materials, resources, and services to the entire community of learners and educators.

1.2 DLESE will use advances in information technology to collect, organize and distribute high quality educational material. These materials will, over time, include information, curricular materials, Earth data, tools, services, and other resources covering the entirety of the Earth system.

1.3 DLESE will provide the tools and interfaces necessary to access, and training in the effective use of, these data and materials.

1.4 DLESE will also function as an intellectual commons, providing a digital meeting place for members of the Earth science community. This will be part of the larger goal to provide a communication network among and between the many interests-public, private and commercial-of Earth system education.

1.5 DLESE will be an integral part of the National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education Digital Library (NSDL), promoting interoperability with other components of the NSDL, and contributing to the development and operation of this larger network of digital libraries.


Article 2

The DLESE Federation

2.1 The governance structure of DLESE is outlined in the Governance Documents that shall be considered a part of these Articles of Federation. A Steering Committee, broadly representative of the diverse interests of Earth system education, will provide strong policy-level guidance in the development and operation of DLESE. Four standing committees, Users, Collections, Services, and Technology, will solicit input from the community and serve to advise the Steering Committee. Other working committees may be established as need dictates. Policies regarding representation and inclusion in this governance structure are detailed in the Governance Documents.

2.2 DLESE will be operated and maintained as a distributed network of collaborating partners. Partnerships between DLESE and programs, projects, consortia, institutions, or other agencies are strongly encouraged. A spirit of sharing and cooperation is a fundamental principle of DLESE. Partners in DLESE will benefit from access to coordinating, technical and community services and can contribute to the full range of library development and operation. Partners agreeing to the principles set forward in this document, and operating in accordance with policies set forth by the DLESE Steering Committee, will be recognized as DLESE Collaborating Partners. The DLESE Steering Committee may enter into mutual agreements with DLESE collaborating partners for the benefit of the Earth science education community.

2.3 Any individual may become a member of DLESE. Membership in DLESE is offered to any interested educator, student, or citizen simply through the act of registering at the DLESE homepage (www.dlese.org). Members are encouraged to participate in all DLESE functions: to become users, reviewers and contributors of educational materials; to join committees and working groups; and to access the communication networks and services supported by DLESE. Members of DLESE have the right to vote in elections to ratify committee membership and to approve policy decisions recommended to the community by the Steering Committee.

2.4 The DLESE federation shall not be construed as a legal partnership under the laws of any of the United States. No statement, explicit or implicit, contained within these Articles of Federation are intended to establish any legal entity under the laws of the United States or any state. These articles are, rather, an agreement in principle by the participating parties to strive for mutual goals and standards in building and maintaining the Digital Library for Earth System Education.

2.5 Materials and services provided by Collaborating Partners will be their sole responsibility. DLESE and other collaborating partners are not responsible for the content, service or actions of any other Collaborating Partner.


Article 3

Educational Philosophy

3.1 The guiding principle of DLESE will be a shared philosophy of excellence in education in support of educators and learners in all instructional settings. DLESE members and partners, as appropriate to their interests and resources, agree to contribute to the educational mission of DLESE in support of the understanding of the Earth system across the spectrum of K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and informal education.

3.2 An emphasis on an Earth system approach will be encouraged, recognizing the interrelationships among the different components of the Earth system, common themes shared among Earth science disciplines, and the interactions between Earth systems and humanity.

3.3 DLESE members and partners are encouraged to use effective educational practices as demonstrated by research on learning and pedagogy. Emphasis in developed materials and services will be placed on inquiry- and discovery-based learning about the Earth system.

3.4 DLESE members and partners are encouraged to establish connections with related disciplines in the physical, life, and mathematical sciences and engineering disciplines to support national initiatives to improve scientific literacy for all Americans. Participation in the NSDL is a high priority.


Article 4

Technical Standards

4.1 To enable communication and interoperability between the various federated components of DLESE, partners will adopt shared technical standards and protocols. The DLESE governance structure provides mechanisms for broad contribution by partners to these policies and for community-based decision-making. These standards shall evolve as technological advances permit and dictate. Partners are encouraged to contribute to, and agree to support, the DLESE policies established for technical standards.

4.2 In support of the activities of DLESE, all partners are encouraged to openly share technical information as necessary to achieve the requirements of interoperability and metadata standards. To enable distributed construction, DLESE encourages an open source philosophy for sharing technologies and resources.

4.3 DLESE agrees to provide support, and where possible, act as a conduit for shared technical information among the various members of the DLESE Federation. To facilitate the development of educational and curriculum materials by the larger user/creator community, technical information, authoring services, interfaces, and training will be disseminated widely by DLESE.

4.4 DLESE is expected to play an integral role in the NSDL. To the extent possible, DLESE technical standards will conform with those of the NSDL to help promote interoperability among all contributors to the NSDL.


Article 5

Intellectual Property

5.1 DLESE partners and members accept a fair use policy in support of Earth science education as articulated in the intellectual property policies developed by the DLESE Steering Committee. The DLESE intellectual property policies must balance the rights of creators with the interests of the community to gain fair access to resources. DLESE will make available guidelines regarding intellectual property policy for use by its community.

5.2 It is the responsibility of individual DLESE partners and members to ensure compliance with state and federal law regarding intellectual property issues. Technical information protected by the copyright laws of the United States shall be honored by DLESE. Contributing partners or members shall make every effort to secure appropriate permissions for the inclusion of any material or data for use in DLESE.


Article 6

Rights and Responsibilities of DLESE for Long-Term Sustainability of the Federation

6.1 DLESE must establish business plans to ensure its long-term sustainability. To this end, the Steering Committee may pursue activities that generate revenue such as the licensing of its products, imposition of user fees, or funding from federal agencies, the commercial sector, or philanthropic institutions.

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