Responding to the National Mandate
In the Geoscience Education: A Recommended Strategy (1997; NSF 97-171) report, the Geoscience Education Working Group recommended:
GEO should continue to recognize the problem of underrepresentation of minorities and women in the geosciences and should increase its efforts to correct this problem by encouraging participation of people from these groups in all of its programs.
The subsequent NSF report, Strategy for Developing a Program for Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences (NSF 01-53) , identified the primary goal of the program:
to increase participation in geosciences education and research by members of groups that have traditionally been underrepresented in geoscience disciplines.
An important but secondary goal arises from the primary goal:
to enhance the understanding of the geosciences and their contribution to modern society by a broad and diverse segment of the population.
However, O'Connell and Holmes (2015), Obstacles to the recruitment of minorities into the geosciences: A Call to action report:
"In 2008, >85,000 Hispanic, Black (U.S. National Science Foundation [NSF] term), and American Indian/Native Alaskan students, collectively called underrepresented minorities, received bachelor degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Of that number, only 192 Hispanic, 89 Black, and 28 American Indian/Native Alaskan students (NSF, 2010; Fig. 1) earned degrees in geoscience. Between 2000 and 2008, underrepresented minorities earned 16%–17% of STEM degrees and only 5%–7% of geoscience degrees."
After 20 years, the geosciences have not made much progress (see AGI Currents brief: Minority Participation in University Programs). The goals have been set. The opportunities have been identified. The need is immediate and urgent. We have a lot of work to do.
Essential Federal Reports on Broadening Participation in STEM
The following are some key reports that have identified the problem, and have begun to chart strategies and approaches to broadening participation in STEM:
- Rising Above the Gathering Storm--Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future (National Academy of Sciences, 2007): "...need [was] identified for a comprehensive and coordinated federal effort to bolster U.S. competitiveness and pre-eminence in the STEM disciplines".
- National Research Council (NRC), Rising Above the Gathering Storm Two Years Later: Accelerating Progress Toward a Brighter Economic Future, Natl. Acad. Press, Washington, D. C., 2009.
- Engage to Excel, Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (Acrobat (PDF) 5.3MB Feb8 17) (PCAST, 2012) is a report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST, 2012) that addresses the challenges of recruiting and training 1 million more college graduates in STEM disciplines to meet future economic needs of the United States. Three imperatives are defined: Improve the first two years of STEM education in college; Provide all students with the tools to excel. Diversify pathways to STEM degrees. See Contributions from the Earth Sciences.
- Prepare and Inspire: K-12 Education in Science,Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for America's Future (Acrobat (PDF) 1.5MB Feb8 17) -- PCAST (2010) "To meet our needs for a STEM-capable citizenry, a STEM-proficient workforce, and future STEM experts, the Nation must focus on two complementary goals: We must prepare all students, including girls and minorities who are underrepresented in these fields, to be proficient in STEM subjects. And we must inspire all students to learn STEM and, in the process, motivate many of them to pursue STEM careers."
- Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM Education 5 year Strategic Plan (Acrobat (PDF) 1.1MB Feb8 17) -- Committee on STEM Education National Science and Technology Council (COSTEM, 2013) Key findings for undergraduate education: Identify & broaden implementation of evidence-based practices & document their impacts on learning & retention; Improve STEM Ed support at 2-year colleges & create bridges between 2-year and 4-year programs; Incentivize & support university-public-private partnerships to provide relevant & authentic STEM learning experiences; Address high failure rates in gatekeeper introductory math classes.
- Investing in Science, Engineering and Education for the Nation's Future: NSF Strategic Plan for 2014-2018.
- Strategic Re-envisioning for the Education and Human Resources Directorate -- Advisory Committee NSF/EHR (2014).
- Olson, Steve and Adam P. Fagen, Editors (2007) Understanding Interventions that Encourage Minorities to Pursue Research Careers: Summary of a Workshop. National Research Council, National Academies Press.
- National Science Board (2003) The science and engineering workforce: Realizing America's potential. NSB 03-69. National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA.
- Broadening Participation -- National Science Foundation. Includes A Framework for Action and Framework for Evaluating Impacts of Broadening Participation Projects reports.
- Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering -- NSF (2015) provides statistical information about the participation of these three groups in science and engineering education and employment.
- In Pursuit of a Diverse Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Workforce: Recommended Research Priorities to Enhance Participation by Underrepresented Minorities -- George, Y.S., Neale, D.S., Van Horne, V., and Malcom, S.M. (2001) American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences (AAAS).
- Barriers and Opportunities for 2-Year and 4-Year STEM Degrees: Systemic Change to Support Students' Diverse Pathways--National Academy Press (2016)
Reports on Diversity in the Geosciences
- Dynamic Earth: GEO Imperatives and Frontiers 2015-2020 -- Advisory Committee NSF GEO (2014).
- The NRC (2012) report Discipline-Based Education Research (DBER): Understanding and Improving Learning in Undergraduate Science and Engineering provided the evidence that demonstrates effectiveness of instructional strategies, methods, pedagogies and assessments. This link leads to a summary of DBER Contributions and Opportunities for the Geosciences.
- Preparing the Next Generation of Earth Scientists: An Examination of Federal Education and Training Programs -- NRC Board on Earth Sciences and Resources (2013).
- Strategic Frameworks for Education and Diversity, Facilities, International Activities, and Data and Informatics in the Geosciences
- Geoscience Education: A Recommended Strategy (NSF 97-171)
- National Science Foundation (2001) Strategy for developing a program for opportunities for enhancing diversity in the geosciences. (NSF 01-53), Arlington, VA: NSF
- National Science Foundation (2004) Opportunities for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences
- NSF (2005) Geoscience Education and Diversity: Vision for the Future and Strategies for Success, Report of the Second Geoscience Education Working Group
- Broadening Participation in the Geosciences: NSF Funding Opportunities-- Dr. Jill Karsten, NSF Program Director, GEO Education and Diversity; Presentation to Geo-Needs Workshop, August 2015