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Programs Supporting Minority Students in Geoscience

There are successful efforts to attract and support diverse students learning about the Earth in many institutions around the country. The profiles in this collection can serve as models and inspiration for departments and programs that aspire to broaden participation in the geosciences.

The browse below makes use of the US Federal Government's classifications of minority-serving institutions (MSI).

MSI Classifications

The federal government classifies US 2- and 4-year degree-granting postsecondary institutions which are eligible for federal student aid programs into seven mutually exclusive categories:

  1. HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities);
  2. Black-serving non-HBCUs: institutions that are not HBCUs/TCUs but in which Black students constitute at least 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment, while students of all other individual minority groups each constitute less than 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment;
  3. Hispanic-serving: institutions that are not HBCUs/TCUs and in which Hispanic students constitute at least 25 percent of the undergraduate enrollment, while students of all other individual minority groups each constitute less than 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment;
  4. Asian-serving: institutions that are not HBCUs/TCUs and in which Asian/Pacific Islander students constitute at least 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment, while students in each of the other minority groups constitute less than 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment;
  5. American Indian-serving: TCUs or institutions that are not HBCUs/TCUs but in which American Indian/Alaska Native students constitute at least 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment, while students in each of the other minority groups constitute less than 25 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment;
  6. Other minority-serving: institutions that do not fit any of the above categories but in which minority students as a whole constitute at least 50 percent of the total undergraduate enrollment; and
  7. Non-minority-serving: institutions that do not meet any of the criteria described above.

Li, Xiaojie; C. Dennis Carroll (November 2007). "Characteristics of Minority-Serving Institutions and Minority Undergraduates Enrolled in These Institutions: Postsecondary Education Descriptive Analysis Report". Institute of Education Sciences (US Department of Education).

JSU Students in the Meteorology Lab
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Students in the Meteorology Laboratory at Jackson State University.[reuse info]
Provenance: Jackson State University Department of Physics, Atmospheric Science, and Geosciences
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SOLARIS Geo-Ventures Trip
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First SOLARIS Geo-Ventures event of the 2013-14 academic year. September, 2013[creative commons]
Provenance: Joshua Villalobos, EPCC
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SKC Hydrology Stdents
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Students at Salish Kootenai Tribal College doing hydrology activities.[reuse info]
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FVSU Student
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photo of a FVSU student[reuse info]
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2008 LSAMP Scholarship class at UNM
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2008 LSAMP Scholarship class at UNM[reuse info]
Provenance: LSAMP UNM
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Results 1 - 10 of 38 matches

University of Texas at El Paso
The student population mirrors the community. About 80% of the population is Hispanic. About 90% of the student body, at the undergraduate level especially, comes from El Paso County. About 60% are the first in their family to go to college. Enrollment has increased greatly (approximately doubled) in the past 3 to 4 years, and this attributed in a large part to outreach and marketing. They have approximately 70 majors in geology and geophysics, plus another 70 students who are either environmental science majors in the geology department or concentrators in geology from the environmental science department.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Founded in 1957, the Department of Geography at SIUE offers an undergraduate major and minor in Geography and a master's degree in Geographical Studies. The department offers a variety of courses in human, physical, and regional geography, as well as geospatial techniques. Our faculty conduct research on a wide variety of topics at the local, regional and global scale. Students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels have the opportunity to work closely with faculty on current, groundbreaking projects or gain experience through internships. Our students are prepared for careers in a wide range of fields. For example, recent graduates have taken positions as park rangers, urban planners, retail location analysts, resource managers, climate scientists, and geospatial analysts. Wherever you want to go, a degree in Geography from SIUE can take you there. A total of approximately 11,341 undergraduate students are currently enrolled at SIUE. Fifty three percent of these students are female, 15% African American and 4% Hispanic. Of the 115 total geography majors, approximately 5 are from minority groups.

Alabama A & M University
Alabama A&M University (AAMU), a historically black college and university (HBCU), is located in the highly advanced technological center of Huntsville, Alabama. AAMU has four Ph.D. programs in plant and soil science, food science, reading and physics. The current enrollment is 4,055 undergraduate students of which 95% is African-American, 2.8% Caucasian and 0.9% Hispanic. The undergraduate composition of the College of Agricultural, Life, and Natural Sciences (CALNS), which houses the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences (BES), is 91% African-Americans, 6.2% Caucasian and 1.5% Hispanics. The Department has three distinct majors i.e., environmental science, biology and forestry. The Department of BES has been ranked as the nation's #1 institution in the U.S. for granting African American Ph.D.'s in the agricultural sciences. Over the past decade over 50 Ph.D.'s and 120 M.S. graduates have matriculated in the environmental and natural resource-based graduate program, by far the largest at an HBCU and the only doctoral granting program among the HBCUs in the plant and soil sciences.

Over the past 9 years, UNAVCO has supported 44 interns through Research Experiences in Solid Earth Science for Students (RESESS), an NSF-funded multi-year, geoscience research internship, community support, and professional development program. Upper-division students from underrepresented groups spend 11 weeks in Boulder, Colorado during the summer conducting an independent, authentic research project under the guidance of a research mentor and the support of a communications mentor. RESESS interns are also mentored and supported after the summer program, and throughout the academic year by RESESS program staff. The primary goal of the RESESS program is to increase the number of historically underrepresented students entering the geosciences. The alumni of RESESS are 55% Latino/Hispanic, 27% African American/Black, 11% Native American, and 7% Asian American. Of the 30 interns who have earned a BS or BA, 13 are enrolled in a Masters program, and 8 are currently enrolled in a doctorate program. Nine RESESS alumni are working in private industry, five of those in the geosciences.

CUAHSI is a university consortium of over 100 public and private US universities, and over 20 international and affiliate members. CUAHSI provides research and education support services for the University Water Research community. As part of this, CUAHSI operates a Water Data Center facility, to enable and promote access, discovery and use of water data for research and education. The CUAHSI WDC has a new outreach program that is focusing on engaging tribal colleges. We are specifically focusing on supporting tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) to use water data services as part of natural resources and hydrologic curricula offered by many of these colleges. Most, if not all, tribal governments have natural resource agencies for administering tribal lands, so such data skills can lead to careers with tribal governments as well as being highly marketable in the general economy. Place-based education has been shown to be of particularly efficacy with Native American students [17]. Currently our nation awards an average of 30 degrees per year in the disciplines of geosciences to Native American students[18]. Only a small fraction of these students are in the field of hydrology or water resources, despite the importance of water and water rights to many tribes. Historically, in the 1980's there were more settlements, court decisions, legislative actions, and budgetary appropriations related to tribal water issues than in the previous seven decades combined. By any standard, satisfying Indian water entitlements has become one of the major resource challenges facing the American West. We are piloting this program by working with Salish Kootenai College (SKC), the only tribal college in the nation to offer 2- and 4-year degrees in hydrology, to implement training in use of water data as part of tribal college courses. SKC students are typically 80% Native American, and include students from more than 100 federally recognized tribes.

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR): SOARS
The SOARS Program is an internship and mentoring program hosted at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, with a mission to increase the number of students from historically under-represented groups who enroll and succeed in graduate programs in the atmospheric and related sciences. Since 1996, up to 24 students from diverse backgrounds participate in SOARS annually and join the large SOARS alumni network as they move into graduate school and STEM careers.

University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez
The Department of Geology at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez

Arizona State University at the West Campus
Arizona State University has multiple campuses throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area, each of which has a distinct mission. The West Campus is the liberal arts campus with an emphasis on interdisciplinarity. It is a primarily undergraduate campus with no graduate programs in the sciences. Additionally, the student population at ASU West is incredibly diverse, with a large number of minority, first generation, and non-traditional students. In the 2012-13 academic year, approximately 40% of the majors within the School of Mathematical & Natural Sciences are made up of Hispanic, Asian-American, American Indian, and African American ethnicities, and half of all students are female. A large portion of our students are parents and/or married and hold full-time jobs. Therefore, ASU West provides the unique opportunity to mentor students from a rich diversity of socioeconomic backgrounds and life stages. We offer, among our degrees, a B.S. program in Life Sciences with an Environmental Science concentration.

University of South Alabama
The University of South Alabama is a regional, comprehensive four-year institution with an enrollment of 15,000 students. Approximately 35% of students are minorities whereas the community is comprised of 55% minorities. The Department of Earth Sciences has approximately 20-25% minorities in their three programs of geography, geology, and meteorology. The combined enrollment of the three programs is approximately 260 students.

Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi
According to U.S. Census data, approximately 60% of the population in Corpus Christi was Hispanic in 2010 (most current data available). In the Fall of that year, approximately 40% of the students enrolled at TAMUCC were Hispanics (about 4,000 students). Nearly 20% of the geology majors that year were declared Hispanics; 13 students). The numbers increased for 2011 (30%) as well as 2012 (30%; 24 of the 79 geology majors). Despite the increase, these numbers clearly show, that recruitment efforts geared towards this population group need to improve. Within our department, there are also over 170 declared Environmental Sciences majors. As with Geology, approximately 30% of these students are Hispanics. Overall the Geology Program at TAMUCC has seen a substantial growth over the past 6 years (40% increase in enrollment). The program currently serves 85 majors and over 500 non-science majors (yearly). Part of the growth may reflect a regional increase in interest in the geosciences because of the Eagle Ford Shale "boom".

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