The Role of Two-Year Colleges in Geoscience Education and in Broadening Participation in the Geosciences: A Planning Workshop

A planning workshop was held June 24-27, 2010 at Northern Virginia Community College. The workshop brought together faculty from two-year colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and representatives from professional societies and organizations to learn more about geoscience in 2YC and their potential for increasing diversity in the geosciences and to discuss how to best support this important community.

Note: This workshop has already occurred. See the Workshop Program for links to materials from the workshop. There is also a set of Workshop Recommendations developed from participant discussions.

Workshop Goals

Goals of the workshop are to:

  • learn more about the current state of geoscience in two-year colleges (2YC) and the needs of 2YC faculty and students,
  • consider the ways in which professional societies and organizations in the geosciences as well as other STEM disciplines currently support 2YC faculty and students,
  • discuss possible next steps to better support geoscience 2YC faculty and students,
  • think strategically about the ways that increased involvement of 2YC in geoscience and geoscience education efforts might broaden participation in the geosciences and what data are needed for proceeding strategically,
  • develop specific recommendations regarding next steps (identify what additional information is needed, provide suggestions for website development, consider the role of professional societies, strategies to build connections among the broad geoscience community, prioritize action items, establish a timeline and funding plans), and
  • promote networking and community-building for 2YC faculty & others interested in 2YC issues.

During this workshop two-year and four-year college and university faculty as well as representatives from professional societies will develop a plan with prioritized recommendations. The goals of this project include identifying issues, challenges, and opportunities for geoscience faculty and students in 2YCs and making recommendations for next steps in strengthening this important component of the community. This website will document the workshop and extend its reach, building resources from the workshop and from pre- and post-workshop activities and contributions. It will also provide links to professional society sessions on 2YC issues and serve as a foundation for information about geoscience in 2YCs more broadly.

Workshop Conveners:

  • Heather Macdonald, College of William and Mary
  • Bob Filson, Green River Community College
  • Laura Guertin, Penn State Brandywine
  • Kaatje Kraft, Mesa Community College

Workshop Format

We will use a variety of formats to during the workshop:

  • Pre-workshop: To prepare for the workshop, we will collect information to acquire a "snapshot" of current practices, challenges, and succesful strategies in geoscience education and broadening participation in two-year colleges.
  • Plenary Sessions: We will explore issues of general interest (e.g., teaching the range of students in 2YC, recruitment and retention of diverse students in 2YC settings, 2YC efforts in other STEM disciplines, building a GEO 2YC community) and will develop and discuss a group-generated action plan based on a needs assessment that will include recommendations for the future.
  • Small Group Break Out Sessions: These will provide opportunities for discussion, sharing of successful strategies and challenges, brainstorming future possibilities. Topics might include strategies for involving 2YC students in research, technology and distance learning issues, collaborations between two- and four-year institutions, preparing the next generation of geoscience technicians.
  • Local Field Trip: details to be determined.
  • Email List: An email list for workshop participants will promote discussion before and after the workshop.

Selection Criteria

We encourage attendance by a set of participants in consideration of academic position or experience, geographic distribution, disciplinary interests, breadth, type, or level of expertise, and setting. We will give preference to applicants who submit a strong application and who are either two-year college faculty or have demonstrated involvement in issues associated with two-year colleges and/or two-year college faculty. We have funding for ~25 participants, and the final list of participants will be established with the goal of assembling a group representing a wide range of experiences, educational environments, and specialties.


Our National Science Foundation grant provides funding for travel support and operational costs of this workshop for ~25 participants. To be supported by these funds, a participant must be either a US citizen, a permanent resident, or in the employ of a US institution. If you don't meet these requirements and are interested in participating in this workshop at your own expense, please contact the workshop conveners.

Workshop Information

The workshop will be held at Northern Virginia Community College - Annandale Campus. Participants will be housed in double rooms at a local hotel (a limited number of single rooms will be available for an additional charge to participants). We will provide support for travel as well as onsite food and lodging. The workshop will start on Thursday June 24 at 5:00 pm with a reception and dinner followed by the opening session at 7:00 pm. Participants must arrive in time for the opening session. The workshop will conclude by 1 pm on Sunday, June 27, and participants should plan their return travel on Sunday June 27.

This work is supported by the National Science Foundation (GEO 0939671) and the National Association of Geoscience Teachers.

Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

      Next Page »