Initial Publication Date: March 10, 2017

Engaging Local Communities in Geoscience Pathways

Project Website: EarthConnections

Shared Vision

To develop a diverse geoscience workforce, the EarthConnections collective impact alliance is developing regionally focused, Earth education pathways. These pathways support and guide students from engagement in relevant, Earth-related science at an early age through the many steps and transitions to geoscience-related careers. Rooted in existing regional activities, pathways are developed using a process that engages regional stakeholders and community members with EarthConnections partners. Together they connect, sequence, and create multiple learning opportunities that link geoscience education and community service to address one or more local geoscience issues. By intertwining Earth education with local community service we aspire to increase the resilience of communities in the face of environmental hazards and limited Earth resources.

Project Summary

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. This project, Engaging Local Communities in Geoscience Pathways, brings together 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 will include multiple opportunities for students to:

  1. learn geoscience in the context of compelling local issues,
  2. use geoscience to address local challenges, and
  3. 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 will be 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.

Project Materials

Click to watch the EarthConnections Video (MP4 Video 218.4MB Mar8 17).

Principal Investigators

  • Cathy Manduca, PI, Carleton College,
  • Barbara Nagle, Co-PI, SEPUP
  • Donna Charlevoix, Co-PI, UNAVCO
  • Rajul Pandya, Co-PI, AGU