The American Geological Institute is working to increase the number of highly successful geoscience faculty members from underrepresented communities, with a longer term goal of increasing the diversity of the student population engaged in geoscience education and career paths. This project is addressing the key issue of supporting faculty members who are able to serve effectively as role models and mentors to underrepresented minority students, while also maximizing their own professional success. The project is engaging underrepresented minority geoscience faculty at all institutions and all geoscience faculty at minority serving institutions (MSIs). Thirty (30) early career faculty and future faculty graduate students are participating in a 2.5 day workshop pilot focused on enhancing research productivity, instructional excellence, and service to the profession. The workshop pilot, which is based on a successful model implemented by the National Academy of Engineering, includes research and grant-writing advice, networking, career opportunities from professional societies, and teaching resources, as well as targeted interactions to evaluate the unique challenges faced by underrepresented minorities in the geoscience community. Participants are nominated by their departments or invited by the conveners to become leaders in the community working towards improving diversity in the geosciences. Follow-on interactions to measure the longitudinal impact of the workshop on participant success and to evaluate changes in their perception and/or experience regarding what were identified as unique issues facing underrepresented minority faculty are included. As a persistent resource following the workshop, the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) is incorporating video segments from the presentations and discussions into its "PI Guide" website, which serves as a virtual community for current and aspiring PIs to share resources and best practices in developing and managing an academic career. Workshop conveners will maintain support for the participants through follow-up meetings at two professional society annual meetings.

Project Report

Overview: The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) in collaboration with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) held a 2.5 day workshop in April 2012 to support underrepresented minority faculty and future faculty in preparing for academic careers. There were three main goals: 1. Support early career faculty success for underrepresented minority faculty in the geosciences, so that they become leaders of community efforts to increase diversity. 2. Increase understanding of barriers to participation in the geosciences by underrepresented minorities. 3. Pilot test the successful NAE model of underrepresented minority faculty workshops and resources for the geosciences. Key Outcomes: At regular intervals following the workshop, researchers conducted an evaluation of the impact our sessions had on participants. Overall, the workshop appears to have had a positive effect on the attendees in the short and long term. Prior to the workshop, most respondents had at least some confidence in their abilities related to professional society involvement, using effective instructional techniques, interactions with federal agencies, and campus leadership. Confidence tended to increase immediately following the workshop and decrease slightly over the next 13 months, but in general respondents indicated more confidence in these activities after the workshop than before it. The workshop was successful in bringing together a diverse group of early career faculty and individuals soon to enter the professoriate. Attendees developed collaborations with each other and were able to network with representatives from the federal agencies most likely to support their research in the future. Broader Impacts: The geoscience discipline has had a long history of struggling to attract and retain underrepresented minorities into academic careers. This workshop sought to provide underrepresented minorities professional support to pursue careers in academia. The impact from the workshop on the discipline includes providing a small cohort of individuals who are more aptly prepared to enter academic careers in the geosciences. Therefore, if these folks, who are underrepresented minorities, are more likely to succeed as professors and researchers in the geosciences, their impact on their colleagues, communities and students will exponentially grow. By supporting minorities with these long term skills and increased confidence levels, they are more likely to recruit and retain more students who are also underrepresented minorities, and thus over time, increase the percentage of minorities in our geoscience community. Overall, the workshop created a community for underrepresented minority faculty within the geosciences and encouraged peer to peer mentoring and networking. In the long term, supporting underrepresented minority faculty will increase diversity in the geosciences as these faculty become role models and mentors to future generations of students and leaders within the geoscience community. This is extremely important because the geosciences, as a discipline, impacts many facets of our society and having geoscientists who ethnically represent our nation's population is vitally important to the successes of those efforts.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Directorate for Geosciences (GEO)
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Program Officer
Jill L. Karsten
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American Geological Institute
United States
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