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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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University of New Orleans: Minority Awareness Program
The purpose of the Minority Awareness Program is to provide opportunities for minority high school students to explore Earth sciences through field study. Started in 1974, it has become the longest running program in the geosciences for recruiting minority students. While the program initially consisted only of field trips in the geosciences for minority high school students, in 1990 the program gained additional funding and started offering scholarships to students to attend the University of New Orleans. The addition of financial support increased enrollment significantly. In more recent years, the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina resulted in a need to rebuild the numbers of students in the program and adapt to changing conditions within the local high schools.

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 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.

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.

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.

Calvin College
Calvin College is a comprehensive liberal arts college in the Reformed tradition of historic Christianity. Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the college has 4000+ undergraduate students from Michigan (52%) and other states and countries (48%). 10% of the student population are international students and 13% are AHANA (African-, Hispanic-, Asian-, and Native- American) students. Roughly 55% of the students are female. The Department of Geology, Geography and Environmental Studies (GEO Department) offers 8 different majors including education and group majors. Environmental studies, geology, and geography majors are the most popular majors, enrolling 81 students in Fall 2013. The number of student majors has quadrupled since 2009, indicating a growing interest in the geoscience majors. Faculty numbers have remained the same through that time period; in 2013 there are six male and one female faculty with disciplinary expertise and active scholarship programs.

Central Wyoming College
Central Wyoming College is small (2000), rural community college situated with in the boundaries of Wind River Indian Reservation (WRIR). The WRIR is home to the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapahoe tribes. The central campus resides in Riverton, with outreach centers in Lander and Jackson. We offer several geoscience transfer degrees (AS) as well as applied degrees (AAS), credentials and certificates. Many of our programs have been recently up dated to include a focus on workforce development. The geosciences programs are housed with in the Science department of the Health & Science Division, which also offers programs in biological and physical sciences, nursing and allied health. Our applied programs stem from a community need for trained workers in the oil and gas industry, and are guided by a community advisory board. Our transfer degrees are oriented to resource and environmental issues. One environmental degree collaborates with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), one of the largest employers in Lander. The number of students choosing one of our programs varies from 30 to three. We are making an effort to increase our recruiting efforts this year. AS - Earth, Energy, Environment - program options: Earth (traditional geology), Energy (oil and gas engineering), Environment (hydrology and environmental geology) and Geographic Information Systems. AS - Environmental Science and Leadership - includes a one-semester NOLS course AAS - Environmental Health and Safety - Environmental Technician Credentials and certificates: Environmental Technician, Water Quality Technician, Health & Safety Technician, Remediation Technician, GIS Technician

Northern Virginia Community College
We are a large, multi-campus community college in the suburban fringe of a major metropolitan area (Washington, D.C.). We grant A.S. degrees in Science (among many other degrees), and so any student who intends to major in geology would first get an A.S. with us, then transfer to a four-year college for their B.S. degree in geology.

Western Kentucky University
Western Kentucky University (WKU) is a public, comprehensive university of over 21,000 students. It is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and it is one of nine state-supported institutions in Kentucky's postsecondary system. The university was founded as a Normal school in 1906. Over time it evolved beyond its Teacher College roots to become, in 1966, a University with six distinct colleges. It is currently the largest four-year comprehensive university in Kentucky. The Geology program at WKU is part of the Department of Geography and Geology and WKU's Ogden College of Science and Engineering. The Department is one of the oldest at WKU with roots traceable back to WKU's early Teacher College years. The department has always had a strong connection to the cave and karst landscape of south-central, KY, including Mammoth Cave National Park; the karst resources of the region have been a major attraction and an important focus of the department's activities and its educational programs. The Department of Geography and Geology currently has 206 active majors among four programs: geography (61 majors), geology (63 majors), meteorology (70 majors) and geographic information systems (12 majors). The demographic make-up of the Department is similar to College of Science and Engineering; approximately two-thirds of the students are male and 80% of the students are white. These data differ from the University as a whole, which although predominantly white (79%), has more female undergraduate students (58%) than male students (42%).

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.

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