Supporting Minority Students in Geoscience at CSU

Part of the Recruiting and supporting minority students in STEM disciplines Collection.
Information for this profile comes from the Central State University website and an interview with department chair Dr. Subramania Sritharan on August 12, 2013. You can get additional information about the International Center for Water Resources Management on the CSU website.

Jump down to Context | Keys to Success | Attracting New Students | Supporting Our Majors | Preparing Students for Careers | Additional Information

International Center for Water Resources Management at Central State University

The mission of the International Center for Water Resources Management at CSU is to offer programs with multi-cultural and global perspectives with particular emphasis on African and African-American cultures; collaborate with other education institutions, business organizations, and government agencies to enrich learning experiences and educational opportunities for students; and provide quality educational programs in the scientific technical fields where minorities have been traditionally underrepresented. The Center is home to the geoscience programs available for study at CSU: Environmental Engineering, Geography, Geology, and Water Resources Management.


CSU is a Historically Black University and serves a student body that is around 95% African-American with most of the remainder being Caucasian. The students in the Center reflect these demographics. Between the four available degree programs, the Center typically has around 60 majors and about 5 graduate per year.

Keys to Success

  • Attracting new students to the program through outreach to local high school classes, teachers, and counselors.
  • Supporting majors through financial support, intensive advising and mentoring, and academic support opportunities.
  • Preparing students for careers by requiring an internship for graduation and making projects with regional entities a part of the educational experience.

Attracting New Students

Outreach. Faculty in the Center reach out to high schools in the Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton areas to establish relationships with teachers and guidance counselors. Schools in these areas bring their juniors and seniors to visit the department so that students can be exposed to potential courses of study and learn about careers they could have after graduation. About half to two-thirds of the new students entering the program each year (~10 out of 15) come to CSU knowing they want to major in one of the geoscience programs. The remaining students learn about the programs once they have enrolled at CSU.

Funding. Advertising that research funding and scholarships are available to students in the Center enables students with financial need to see a path to a college degree and a worthwhile, valuable career.

Supporting Our Majors

Funding. There are several different kinds of funding available to students in one of the Center's programs. Faculty have been successful in getting research grants so there is funding for research assistants. There are also a variety of scholarships available to students in STEM fields and some of these are "full-ride."

Intensive Advising and Mentoring. Class sizes tend to be small with some advanced classes having only 5-6 students per term. This allows faculty members to really interact with and get to know all of the students in the department so that they can provide a high level of advising and mentoring over the course of a student's studies.

Academic Support. Traditionally, Central State pulls students from many of the lower performing schools in the area, so academic preparation is often an issue. To help address this, many faculty members hold tutoring sessions associated with their courses. There are also formal, structured tutoring sessions associated with "gatekeeper" courses for the major, which is where the need for remediation is highest. CSU also has what is called the University College. This setup provides a second advisor to compliment the one a student has in the department. The purpose of this extra supervision is to provide the oversight and guidance necessary to keep struggling students from dropping out of college before their sophomore year.

Preparing Students for New Careers

Research Opportunities. As mentioned above, there are many opportunities for students to take part in research being conducted by faculty int he department.

Internships. And internship is required as a part of these degree programs. The Center and faculty work with local agencies to arrange internship opportunities for them.

Real-World Projects. The degree programs in the Center take advantage of partnerships with local and regional entities to have students working on real-world problems. These projects get undergrads engaged and involved with real issues and provide very authentic learning opportunities which the students then present about in a scientific forum either internally or at conferences.

Additional Information