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This program description is part of a collection of institutional models which explore ways of bringing a geoscience-informed approach to sustainability to a diverse range of disciplines, institutions, and networks. These model programs also provide the documentation and resources necessary to help other groups implement similar programs.
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University of Northern Colorado - Inviting diverse students to sustain their future

Dr. William Hoyt, University of Northern Colorado
Dr. Cindy Shellito, University of Northern Colorado
Byron Straw, University of Northern Colorado
Dr. Steve Anderson, University of Northern Colorado
Initial Publication Date: November 16, 2015


The faculty at the University of Northern Colorado set about increasing the recruitment and retention of students in geoscience, including a focus on increasing the diversity of those students. Their efforts included collaborations with local K12 schools and two-year colleges as part of a strengthened active outreach program. It also included professional development for faculty at UNC to increase the connection of course content to relevant societal issues as well as to educate faculty about diversity issues. Finally, this program model sought to influence the teaching of courses in the upper division as well as at the introductory level with societally-relevant geoscience content.

About the Program

In a rapidly changing world, it is imperative for our students to be able to (1) understand the science behind a changing environment, (2) be able to integrate information from diverse fields, and (3) adapt to a rapidly changing socio-political environment while understanding the implications of this environment on the natural world and vice-versa. We aim to enhance recruitment and retention of Earth Science majors through implementation of a diverse, strong interdisciplinary component into our traditional curricula and the development of a strong outreach program. Outreach activities, along with new curricula and faculty professional development focused on diversity awareness, form the basis for a comprehensive retention model for diverse students that will better prepare students to persist to graduation and be ready for employment in a world that requires an understanding of science, society, and sustainability.

Program Goals:

  1. Enhance outreach efforts to local high schools and community colleges through presentations and field activity experiences.
  2. Enrich lower and upper division courses with curricular activities that emphasize societal relevance and sustainability.
  3. Develop a model for supporting diverse geoscience students that includes faculty training in diversity awareness, development and support of student-centered teaching practices in the department, and the use of best practices in student advising.

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This program description is part of a growing collection of models of ways to bring learning about the Earth to a diverse range of disciplines, institutions, and networks, as well as provide the documentation and resources necessary to help other groups implement similar programs..
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