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About EarthConnections

Project Team | Publications and Presentations

The geosciences lag behind most other STEM disciplines in diversity and are also projected to have a deficit in the workforce in the coming years. On top of that lack of diversity, there are few opportunities for geoscience students of any background to develop their scientific skills and knowledge while learning to work with communities on community issues.

A pilot project, Engaging Local Communities in Geoscience Pathways, brings together program partners who have led successful national efforts addressing components of these challenges with partners in three regions to create pathways in three regional alliances, focusing on key academic transitions in three diverse US communities—Atlanta, GA; San Bernardino, CA; and Oklahoma—and will use these pathways as laboratories and catalysts for a systemic change in geoscience and geoscience education. These pathways include multiple opportunities for students to:

  • learn geoscience in the context of compelling local issues,
  • use geoscience to address local challenges, and
  • explore geoscience career pathways.

We recognize five essential elements of a pathway:

  1. it is embedded in the local community
  2. it uses geoscience to address a local need or problem
  3. it connects learning opportunities at multiple educational levels
  4. at each level opportunities for classroom learning are coupled with opportunities to use knowledge in community service
  5. mentoring and signposting support students in recognizing and navigating the pathway

The pathways are being developed by the regional alliances with support from national programs linked through the national alliance using a design rubric and development processes that encodes our collective vision and supports mutual reinforcement among activities. Experience gained by initial program partners and regional alliances will be used to create national support structures for developing integrated geoscience pathways and a collective action framework for expanded partnerships.

As the pilot project draws to a close, EarthConnections has joined forces with others who share our vision including three other INCLUDES pilots to scale up this vision building on the work of all. A proposal has been submitted and a Community of Practice initiated.

View or download the EarthConnections brochure (Acrobat (PDF) 2.1MB Dec6 18).


Earth Connections is one of 37 projects being recognized for first-ever awards for the NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science) program which aims to improve access to STEM education and career pathways at the national scale, making them more widely inclusive to underserved populations.

For more information on the 37 projects visit the NSF Website.

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