Increasing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The geosciences continue to have among the lowest diversity rates for all STEM fields (Guitard, 2018; Huntoon, Tanenbaum, and Hodges, 2015, McDaris et al, 2019). There are a number of strategies that have shown promise in addressing this situation such as mitigating stereotype threat and solo status, making the discipline more accessible to students with disabilities, and supporting first-generation college students. Given that almost half of US college students start at 2YCs and that the population of students at 2YCs tends to be more diverse than at 4YCUs (AACC, 2016; Dowd, 2011; Wang, 2013), efforts to broaden the diversity of students studying geoscience would do well to have a significant focus on work at 2YCs. It also means that geoscience faculty at 2YCs are natural partners in attracting diverse cohorts of students into the geosciences.
There is a growing body of research pointing out the benefits of diverse teams and groups. Help your community define the terms of diversity and equity, demonstrate the ways diversity and quity lead to better results, and become comfortable having uncomfortable conversations.
A sense of belonging in a discipline or department can help students persist in the face of challenges that might otherwise derail them. Spotlighting diverse scientists, addressing issues like stereotype threat and solo status, and supporting the whole student can help foster that sense of belonging.
Creating a space where students are valued and supported requires intention and action. These spaces don't simply "happen." Fostering an understanding of implicit biases and ensuring that spaces where people can be themselves are important pieces of this effort.
Focusing on local issues, events, and places helps establish relevance. Provide ground truth with local examples, connect geoscience to local social justice issues, and use field trips to engage student with their local environment.
American Association of Community Colleges. (2016). 2016 Community College Fact Sheet. Washington DC: AACC.
Dowd, A. C. (2011). Developing supportive STEM community college to four-year college and university transfer ecosystems. In S. Olson & J. B. Labov (Eds.), Community colleges in the evolving STEM education landscape (pp. 107–134). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Guitard, M. (2018). Why Don't the Geosciences Have More Diversity?. Scientific American: Voices.
Huntoon, J.E., Tanenbaum, C., and Hodges, J. (2015). Increasing Diversity in the Geosciences. EOS, 96, doi:10.1029/2015EO025897.
McDaris, J.R., Iverson, E.R., Manduca, C.A., and Orr, C.H. (2019). Teach the Earth: Making the connection between research and practice in broadening participation, Journal of Geoscience Education, 67:4, 300-312, DOI:10.1080/10899995.2019.1616272
Wang, X. (2013). Modeling entrance into STEM fields of study among students beginning at community colleges and four-year institutions. Research in Higher Education, 54(6), 664–692. doi:10.1007/s11162-013-9291-x