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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

Grand Valley State University
The GVSU Advanced Geology High School Course with College Credit program has been underway for around 10 years. It began as a partnership between Steve Mattox at Grand Valley State University and one high school teacher, a Grand Valley State University graduate, Chris Bolhuis. Chris approached Steve looking for a way to allow his students to earn college credit for the course Chris was teaching. Steve developed an exam for use at the end of the school year to ensure the high school students were learning the depth and breadth of material necessary to earn the credit. This partnership then expanded to other teachers at other high schools. Steve now actively looks for other teachers who are qualified to teach this course (they must have a bachelor's degree in geology and a master's degree in science education, geology, or some other graduate degree). Steve also has expanded the partnership to include other institutions such as Michigan Technological University, Hope College and 9 other Michigan institutions. There will be 15 high schools administering the test by the time the NSF grant period ends in summer 2015 and about half of those schools will have diverse student populations.

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
LacCore, the National Lacustrine Core Facility, and the various students with whom we work in REU (NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates), UROP (UMN Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program), and other research programs and internships. "Diverse" in our case may refer to underrepresented minority students (with a focus on Native Americans in some of our projects, including those described by Diana Dalbotten in her parallel essay), disabled, veterans, women, and nontraditional students. Our REU and other interns come from a wide variety of US institutions.

St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, University of Minnesota
The Saint Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) is a research laboratory situated on Hennepin Island in the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Research at SAFL includes the work of many fields, including civil engineering, hydraulic engineering, hydrology, ecology, and geology. Research at SAFL has been spurred on in the first decade of the 21st century by its status as the headquarters of the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED). SAFL and NCED have developed and support national and regional programs related to broadening participation of underrepresented groups in STEM. The St. Anthony Falls Laboratory is part of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota. The central theme of research at St. Anthony Falls Laboratory (SAFL) is interdisciplinary fluid mechanics. Researchers at SAFL combine field experiments with physical and computational modeling, utilizing our building's unique facilities, to address emerging societal problems in energy, environmental restoration, and human and ecosystem health. They emphasize quantitative and predictive understanding of the underlying physical processes across a broad range of spatial and temporal scales. Researchers at SAFL are primarily faculty, graduate students and post-doctoral scholars affiliated with the College of Science and Engineering (primarily Civil and Mechanical Engineering, Earth Sciences) and with the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior in the College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Science.

Humboldt State University
Humboldt State University is the northernmost campus of the California State University system located on the rural north coast, ~300 miles north of San Francisco. Campus demographics are changing rapidly to better reflect that of California. As Fall 2013, HSU was eligible for recognition as an Hispanic Serving Institution. The Geology Department has ~110 majors, ~10 of which are MS students, ~85 Geology BS/BA, and ~15 Geology BA-Geosciences Option. The Geosciences Option was revamped from a Geoscience Education Option that never gained viable enrollments in part due to changes in the Education program.

Mesa Community College
Mesa Community College serves over 40,000 students a year, 21% of whom are Hispanic. We have two different geoscience pathways for students to pursue, geology (in the physical science department) and geography (in the cultural science department). Both programs serve over 600 students a year, only a handful of whom self-identify as majors. There are no geoscience degrees, so tracking the number of majors is difficult, however there is a geology club that has an active membership ranging from 10-30 members in any given year.

Purdue University-Main Campus
The majority of undergraduate students at Purdue University are from Indiana (57%) or surrounding states in the mid-west. Also, international students make up 17% of the undergraduate enrollment. The mid-western states have the lowest percentage of minority population of any region in the United States. Below are some statistics (2013-14) for undergraduate enrollment of the university. Purdue undergraduate enrollment: Male 16,843 (57.2%) Female 12,597 (42.8%) Purdue undergraduate minority enrollment: 16% of all undergraduates 19.4% of all U.S. undergraduates Purdue undergraduate underrepresented minority (URM) enrollment: 8.5% of all undergraduates 10.2% of all U.S. undergraduates Within Purdue's College of Science, there are 3319 undergraduates of which 2164 (65.2%) are male and 1155 (34.8%) are female. Demographic data for the Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) department are shown below: EAPS undergraduate majors (2013-14) Male 70 (60.9%) Female 45 (39.1%) International students 12 (10.4%) Minority students 13 (11.3%) There are six undergraduate major programs within EAPS: Atmospheric Science/Meteorology, Geology and Geophysics, Environmental Geoscience, Planetary Science, Earth and Space Science Education, and Interdisciplinary Science (joint with other departments in the College of Science). The EAPS department was founded in 1967 in order to increase the coverage of science programs within the College of Science, provide degree programs in Earth and atmospheric sciences, and in recognition of the significance of the geosciences to societal issues into the future. The department was originally named the Department of Geosciences. The name was subsequently changed to the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and then to the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. There has been significant change in the EAPS demographics in the past 5 years. The percentage of female undergraduate students has increased from 27.2% in 2009-10 to 39.1% in 2013-14. Similarly, the percentage of international students has increased from 4.4% to 10.4%, and the percentage of minority students has increased from 5.2% to 11.3% in the same time period.

University of Arizona
The University of Arizona (UA) is located in downtown Tucson, Arizona. Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona and is situated about 100 km from the U.S.-Mexico border. Tucson has 500,000 people; the greater metro area has about 1,000,000. The population of Tucson is about 40% Hispanic or Latino, and this group is growing. For instance, in the Tucson Unified School District, Hispanics/Latinos make up about 60% of all students. The UA was founded in 1885 and was the first university in the Arizona territory (that's right, ASU). In the fall of 2013, the UA undergraduate enrollment was 31, 670 students. Approximately 39% of these students were from a minority (undifferentiated). The UA currently offers degrees in 334 fields of study. The Department of Geosciences offers undergraduate and graduate degrees. For undergrads, Geosciences has three tracks: Geology, Geophysics, and Earth Systems Science. There is also a minor in Geology. For grads, the department offers the M.S. and Ph.D. The department is ranked #1 in Geology, #7 in Earth Sciences, and #10 in Geochemistry in the most recent U.S. News and World Report national survey of graduate programs.

Wayne State University
Support for our minority students is an integral part of both the Geology & the Environmental Science programs.

Inter American University of Puerto Rico-Bayamon
Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Bayamón Campus (IAUPRBC) is a private, non-profit Hispanic Serving Institution. The IAUPRBC is the largest private institution of higher education in Bayamón, with an enrollment of more than 5,000 (92.4% undergraduate students). The IAUPRBC serves a broad spectrum of Hispanic students whose learning styles require a variety of experiences in and outside of the classroom. Many require tutoring in one or more basic skills. The student failure rate in gatekeeper courses stands at 57%, hindering advancement to upper level courses and increasing attrition among first and second year students. In response to these challenges, IAUPRBC have been developing activities geared to create the conditions for student-centered education, especially in traditional gatekeeper courses required in engineering, science, and technology programs. Faculty and infrastructure have been reinforced and undergraduate research has been promote as a key factor in STEM fields. IAUPRBC has been implementing distance learning courses and is committed to academic innovation. Currently, IAUPRBC houses an advanced technological infrastructure, with both Internet and Intranet capabilities, on a fiber optic backbone. There are over 600 workstations, with wireless access points strategically placed for users to connect to with their own portable computers. The Campus library has been transformed into the Information Access Center (IAC). A new database integrating all titles in the university system has been implemented and a virtual library can be accessed through the Internet and the university Intranet. Also, IAUPRBC has a Tutoring Center to help students on English, Spanish and Math skills and a "Internship, Exchange and Partial-Employment Office" to support students on their search for these activities to complete their education. The institution offers a Bachelor degree in Environmental Sciences and a Master degree in Environmental Sciences and Ecology.

GateWay Community College
GateWay Community College is located in Phoenix, Arizona, and is one of 10 community colleges in the Maricopa community college district. Students tend to come from Maricopa county (the county that includes Phoenix) and graduating students tend to want to stay in Maricopa county. Just over 25% of the student body is hispanic. Many students are non-traditional students seeking re-career training. The average student age is around 35 years old. Many students do not have a previous degree, but some come in with bachelors and masters degrees. These students typically still need additional coursework to meet the certification requirements of the American Institute of Hydrology as hydrologic technicians to be hired by the USGS (or other federal or state agencies or local municipalities).

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