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About the InTeGrate Project

By the time today's undergraduates send their children to college, there will be more than eight billion people on Earth. Our climate will be punctuated by extreme weather events. One or more major metropolitan areas may have experienced a devastating earthquake or volcanic eruption. Energy resources will be strained and more expensive. This world requires both an Earth literate public and a workforce that can bring geoscience to bear on tough societal issues. Developing widespread Earth literacy and this workforce are the objectives of the InTeGrate project.

InTeGrate is a 5-year, NSF-funded STEP Center grant, running from 2012 through 2016. The STEP (STEM Talent Expansion Program) Center program enables "a group of faculty representing a cross section of institutions of higher education to identify a national challenge or opportunity in undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and to propose a comprehensive and coordinated set of activities that will be carried out to address that challenge or opportunity within a national context."

Learn more about the project team, including the leadership team, assessment team, planning committees and advisory board.

The first goal of the InTeGrate project is to develop curricula that will dramatically increase Earth literacy of all undergraduate students. This includes the large majority of students that do not major in the geosciences, those who are historically under-represented in the geosciences, and future K-12 teachers, such that they are better positioned to make sustainable decisions in their lives and as part of the broader society.

Objectives related to Goal 1: Developing curricula

  1. Develop a robust understanding of current practices and perceived needs using the professional development workshop program and virtual opportunities for input.
  2. Use multi-institutional teams to develop and test new materials designed to foster geoscience literacy in:
    • Introductory geoscience courses
    • Interdisciplinary courses across the curriculum
    • Courses for future teachers
  3. Support implementation of courses across the curriculum that teach geoscience literacy by:
    • Making tested curriculum materials and information about their use widely available;
    • Building awareness of new materials and models for their adaptation and use;
    • Supporting program implementations that demonstrate approaches to teaching geoscience literary to diverse students in different institutional types and instructional settings.
  4. Assess the impact of new materials and courses on students' geoscience literacy and their ability to make sustainable decisions, including the impact on those who are historically under-represented in the geosciences, and on future K-12 teachers.

The second major goal is to increase the number of majors in the geosciences and related fields who are able to work with other scientists, social scientists, business people, and policy makers to develop viable solutions to current and future environmental and resource challenges.

Objectives related to Goal 2: Preparing students for a workforce for a sustainable future

  1. Develop, document and disseminate a robust understanding of current practices, characteristics of successful programmatic models, and perceived needs and barriers.
  2. Support development, documentation, and dissemination of a set of new model programs based on an understanding of current practice that include:
    • Interdisciplinary programs, majors or certificate programs with a strong geoscience component designed to prepare students for careers addressing challenges of sustainability;
    • Programs that engage students with issues of sustainability and their scientific underpinnings and provide a continuous pathway from high school to a STEM degree;
    • Programs that broaden access to science by introducing geoscience broadly into the liberal arts curriculum;
    • Inter-institutional programs that bring geoscience into courses at institutions without geoscience faculty including minority-serving institutions and 2YCs;
    • Programs that introduce geoscience into the preparation of teachers, including but not limited to Earth science teachers;
    • Programs that introduce geoscience into the preparation of STEM majors outside the geosciences.
  3. Develop and test new materials and courses that support these programs.
  4. Assess impact of programs on the number of majors in the geosciences and associated fields as well as on students' ability and motivation to use insights from the geosciences in addressing grand challenges of sustainability.

Achieving these goals requires a revolution in how geo-education is perceived and practiced, as well as the roles that learning about the Earth play in the broader curriculum in institutions of higher education. Connecting geoscience education to societal challenges has the potential to increase enrollment in geoscience and allied courses, thus strengthening the field while serving society.

To start this revolution, an integrated, community-based approach combines the following elements:

  1. Developing teaching materials and evaluation of new teaching resources and instructional strategies,
  2. Implementation programs to incorporate teaching about the Earth throughout the undergraduate curriculum,
  3. Professional development and dissemination strategies to promote widespread adoption of these new approaches.
  4. Assessment and Project Evaluation ensure that the materials and programs developed by the program effectively meet their stated goals and objects, and that project activities in aggregate meet the overarching goals of the project.

The 2011 NSF awards included two STEP Center awards, this one in the geosciences and one in engineering (the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP)).

See the NSF STEP Center Solicitation




Sponsoring Organizations
American Meteorological Society, American Geological Institute, American Geophysical Union, Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence, Geological Society of America, Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, National Association of Geoscience Teachers, National Council for Science and the Environment, Ocean Leadership and Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, On the Cutting Edge.
This work is sponsored by the following organizations:
AMS Logo AGU Logo AGI Logo COSEE Logo GSA Logo
IRIS Logo NAGT Logo Ocean Leadership Logo Cutting Edge Logo

This work is supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) collaboration between the Directorates for Education and Human Resources (EHR) and Geociences (GEO) under grant DUE - 1125331.

Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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