San Bernardino Alliance

Sally McGill
California State University-San Bernardino

Gabriela Noriega and Mark Benthien
Southern California Earthquake Center


The San Bernardino Alliance is developing collaborative efforts to improve, contextualize, and connect introductory geoscience teaching at high schools, community colleges, and universities and to strengthen ties between the schools and local geoscience professional societies within Inland Southern California, focusing primarily on the societal issue of earthquake hazards. The focus during the 2-year pilot will be on developing connections between and improving introductory geoscience teaching at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), Chaffey Community College and Etiwanda high school. In subsequent years, the connections and activities will be expanded to other high schools, community colleges and universities within the region. The regional alliance will make extensive use of earthquake hazards resources already developed by the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), InTeGrate, the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), and UNAVCO, and will make use of strategies for connections to the workforce used by those partners as well as the American Geophysical Union's Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX).

Approaches to accomplish goals

The following approaches emerged from an opening Round Table event (December 2016) that engaged regional stakeholders in discussions about how to strengthen the pathway to geoscience careers for all students in the San Bernardino area.

  1. CSUSB hosted a National Association of Geology Teachers (NAGT)-InTeGrate teaching workshop on September 7-8, 2017 with a focus on strategies for engaging students in introductory geoscience courses, including those taught in large lecture format.
  2. CSUSB is working with interested and qualified high school teachers to teach a college-level honors geology course at their high school, for which high school students will earn credit for Geol 101 at California State University, San Bernardino.
  3. San Bernardino Alliance partners are developing and improving connections between students and faculty mentors through joint activities for students and faculty at the three participating institutions, such as field trips, guest speakers, service learning projects and visits to meetings of the local geoscience professional organizations.
  4. The San Bernardino Alliance is improving geoscience career awareness by involving more students from high schools, community colleges and universities in activities with local geoscience professional organizations.
  5. The San Bernardino Alliance plans to demonstrate the usefulness of geoscience to local communities by engaging students from the participating institutions in joint service learning projects.

San Bernardino Alliance Workspace

Pathway Development

Collective Impact


  • Sally McGill, CSUSB
  • Gabriela Noriega, SCEC
  • Mark Benthien, SCEC
  • Michael Hubenthal, IRIS
  • Bernadette Vargas, Etiwanda High School
  • Daniel Keck, Etiwanda High School
  • Anna Foutz, Chaffey College
  • Robert DeGroot, USGS

Pathway Development

Community connection

The San Bernardino Allliance brings together teachers and students from Etiwanda High School, Chaffey College, and CSUSB, along with CSUSB geology alumni and other professional geologists from the local area. The core members of the San Bernardino Alliance team from Etiwanda High School and Chaffey College were selected because they had demonstrated themselves to be local champions through their dedication to supporting geoscience student clubs, their participation in Earth Science research and their inclusion of their students in that research, and their Earth Science curriculum development. This Alliance kicked off with a Round Table event in December 2016 from which we gathered community input from faculty, administrators, students and alumni from the three educational institutions listed above as well as geoscience professionals from the region and community users of geoscience information (e.g., emergency response). At the Round Table event CSUSB geology alumni showed a strong level of interest in supporting the next generation of Earth scientists. The San Bernardino Alliance remains embedded in the local community via the participation of high school and college students from the region, who bring with them the experiences of their families and communities. Student participants have surveyed their family and friends to discover the geoscience issues that are considered of highest importance within local communities.

On September 7-8, 2017 the San Bernardino Alliance hosted an InTeGrate/NAGT teaching workshop. The 20 participants included eight CSUSB geoscience faculty members (4 tenured/tenure-track and 4 lecturers), one geology faculty member from University of California, Riverside, two community college geology faculty and two high school science teachers. The remaining participants were CSUSB faculty from other departments. Each CSUSB participant is implementing at least one new pedagogy or InTeGrate lesson or module from the workshop. Participants are meeting for three brown-bag lunches after the workshop (Nov. 6, Nov. 27 and January 31) to present and discuss their implementation projects. Once the implementation pilots and reporting are completed, participants from CSUSB will be paid a stipend from CSUSB's quarter-to-semester curriculum development budget.

Use geoscience to address a local need or problem

So far we have been focusing on earthquakes as the local problem. This is a serious problem, but is not necessarily perceived as urgent by the local community. The Southern California Earthquake Center provides a good example of how the geoscience community contributes to addressing the earthquake problem in Southern California through scientific research, internships for students, public information on earthquake preparedness, and knowledge-transfer activities between earthquake scientists and engineers. Our San Bernardino Alliance can help to disseminate some of SCEC's outstanding contributions to the greater San Bernardino area. We also are developing a service learning project in which students from CSUSB, Chaffey Community College, and Etiwanda High School will help the San Bernardino County Office of Emergency Services to estimate what magnitude earthquake is being simulated by their earthquake simulator. This project will provide students with experience measuring earthquake shaking with a QuakeCatcher sensor, quantifying the amplitude of shaking, and then thinking about other factors besides magnitude (e.g., distance from hypocenter) that affect the amplitude of shaking at a given location.

Connect learning opportunities at multiple educational levels

The diagram above illustrates the existing pathways for students from the San Bernardino region who are interested in geosciences, along with the three interventions we are implementing to strengthen those pathways. Intervention 1 is an NAGT/InTeGrate traveling workshop was hosted at CSUSB on September 7-8, 2017. This workshop focused on using active learning pedagogy and societally relevant content to improve the engagement of students in introductory geoscience courses at the university, community college and high school level within the San Bernardino region. Intervention 2 includes planning joint activities for students in the geology clubs at local high schools, community colleges and universities with representatives who are professional geologists (e.g., field trips, guest speakers, and visits to the dinner meetings of local geoscience professional organizations), so that students at earlier stages of the geoscience pathway will have opportunities to meet and interact with students and faculty who are from institutions that represent later stages in the pathway as well as with geologists who are engaged in various careers. Students from CSUSB, Chaffey College and Etiwanda High School participated in a joint field trip to the San Andreas fault in March 2017, and a joint service learning project is in the planning stages. Intervention 3 provides support for high school faculty who are interested in and qualified to teach a college-level geoscience course at their high school. High school students who pass such courses can earn credit for Geol 101 at CSUSB, thus facilitating their progression from high school into college and their awareness of geoscience as a field of study.

Coupled classroom and service learning opportunities

A service learning project with the San Bernardino County Office of Emergency Services for students from the three participating educational institutions is in development.

Mentoring and signposting support students

The joint activities between high school, community college and university geology clubs, with inclusion of professional geologists provide opportunities for mentoring between faculty and students as well as between students at different educational levels, and between professional geologists and students. At our joint field trip to the San Andreas fault in March 2017, current students from the three institutions interacted with a professional geologist who is also a CSUSB alumnus, and a current CSUSB graduate student about graduate school and careers in the geosciences.