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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.

From:
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]
Provenance: http://www.tribalcollegejournal.org/archives/3111
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FVSU Student
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photo of a FVSU student[reuse info]
Provenance: FVSU webpage- from this page: http://www.fvsu.edu/academics/cdep
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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.

Fort Valley State University: CDEP
Geoscience is not an available major at Fort Valley State and there is no Geology department. But participants in the Cooperative Development Energy Program (CDEP) can obtain a degree in geoscience from a partner institution in addition to a degree in Math or Chemistry from FVSU through its 3+2 dual degree transfer program. In addition, the program provides a number of support mechanisms for the participants, who are all members of underrepresented minorities or women.

North Carolina A&T University: NOAA-ISET Cooperative Science Center
As a NOAA Educational Partnership Program Cooperative Science Center, the ISET Cooperative Science Center provides opportunities for underrepresented students to study in NOAA-related sciences. NCA&T is the lead institution in a team of 5 minority-serving institutions (California State University-Fresno, The City College of the City University of New York, Fisk University, University of Alaska Southeast, and NCA&T) and 2 major universities (University of Minnesota, NC State University). ISET was one of five such centers established by NOAA's EPP to advance collaboration in NOAA-related sciences.

El Paso Community College: SOLARIS
The SOLARIS (Student Opportunity for Learning Advanced Research In geoScience) program is aimed to increase participation, particularly for minority students, in the geosciences at El Paso Community College (EPCC). Funded by NSF's Opportunities in Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences (OEDG) program, SOLARIS has two primary facets. First, workshops for local high school instructors and EPCC faculty provide educators with strategies to engage students with active learning techniques, information about geoscience careers, and possible degree plans through EPCC and the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP). Secondly, as a bridge between the A.S. and B.S. degrees, the program allows up to 10 EPCC geological science majors per year to conduct geological research using equipment and facilities at both EPCC and UTEP and receive mentoring by both instructors at both institutions.

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.

UNAVCO
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.

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.

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.

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.


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