Initial Publication Date: May 15, 2015

Geo-Needs: Stakeholder Needs Assessment for Broadening Participation in the Geoscience Workforce

"IMPACT STATEMENT: Increase the number of underrepresented minorities that graduate college with STEM degrees in the next 10 years and improve women's participation in areas of STEM where they are significantly underrepresented." Federal STEM Education 5-Year Strategic Plan, COSTEM Report, 2013.

Employment opportunities in the geosciences are rapidly expanding, as communities need to find reliable sources of clean water, prepare for a changing climate, extract energy and mineral resources, and protect citizens from natural hazards. Traditionally, students have been prepared for these critical careers through earning geoscience degrees at four-year colleges and universities. Students attending two-year colleges (2YCs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs), however, do not typically have the same opportunities, as geoscience programs are rare at these institutions. As a result, students from these schools are often excluded from the geoscience workforce.

Geo-Needs is an NSF-funded project that seeks to explore barriers and opportunities for enhancing geoscience instruction at 2YC and MSI institutions so that these students have greater opportunities for employment in the geosciences. The pages that follow are informed by discussions from four focus group meetings, held in August 2015, that brought together geoscience employers, teams of MSI/2YC administrators and instructors, educational researchers, and educational resource providers. Learn more about the 2015 focus group meetings or jump down to an index of site contents.

Download the full Geo-Needs Stakeholder Needs Assessment for Broadening Participation in the Geoscience Workforce report (Acrobat (PDF) 5MB Jun10 16) or the Executive Summary (Acrobat (PDF) 1.1MB Jun10 16)

Project Goals

This project aims to:

  • identify and clarify barriers and opportunities for better use of existing instructional resources that engage underrepresented students in the geosciences at 2YCs/MSIs, and
  • explore, with stakeholders, what an "ideal" model of resources, partnerships, professional development, and ongoing support for faculty and institutions might look like.

Explore the Site

Responding to the National Mandate

A compilation of reports from the National Science Foundation, National Research Council, PCAST and other federal sources that articulate the need for broadening participation in the STEM disciplines.

A Focus on the Geoscience (and STEM) Professions

Resources and policy statements from geoscience professional societies (AGI, AGU, GSA), and professional societies that support students from underrepresented groups in STEM (SACNAS, National Association of Black Geologists, Institute for Broadening Participation).

Preparing for the Geoscience Workforce–Career Pathways

The Geosciences have the lowest representation of people from underrepresented groups of any of the STEM disciplines. These resources help chart pathways to careers in the geosciences to help recruit and train geoscience majors from underrepresented groups.

Institutional, Programmatic, Departmental and Faculty Strategies for Broadening Participation

Systemic change to enhance broadening participation in the geosciences requires institutional support of programs, faculty and students. This section contains resources and strategies needed to create inclusive and supportive learning environments for all students. In addition, this section includes recommendations from the 2015 Geo-Needs Focus Groups, and includes related resources on institutional, programmatic and departmental resources, faculty professional development needed to support diversity initiatives, information on cultural literacy/competency, the critical role of 2YCs, resources that support systemic change, and information on evaluating diversity programs.

A Focus on Students: Strategies That Work

Find strategies that enable success for ALL students, with suggestions for strategies for recruitment and retention of students from underrepresented groups.

Building an Ideal Model

The Ideal Model was constructed to represent the interconnected networks with relevant stakeholders needed to support increased diversity in the geosciences.


Find references and resources recommended by the community. You can also Contribute a resource. Please recommend any articles, reports, links to websites or other resources that we can add to this collection for use by the entire community.

2015 Focus Groups

A series of four focus groups were held at Northern Illinois University in Naperville, IL during Summer 2015. Discussions and activities that took place during these meetings provided a basis for much of the information found on this site. Learn more about these meetings and their participants.

Geo-Needs at the 2016 Earth Educators' Rendezvous

A Geo-Needs workshop will be held at the 2016 Earth Educators Rendezvous to use the resources and Ideal Model developed in this project to help faculty from MSI's and 2YCs develop action plans to increase geoscience courses and programs at institutions that serve primarily students from underrepresented groups.

About this Project: Project team

Learn more about the design and development of this project and the leadership team.

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