The purpose of the project is to identify, recruit and train students from underrepresented groups to enter into the field of demography of aging. Demography can be daunting because it utilizes sophisticated statistical models. Given the demographic make-up of the student population in California, this program will provide paths to black and Hispanic students, as well as disabled students, a field that relies heavily on quantitative analysis using specialized software. The program also draws focus from the field of aging, as topics such as the racial differences in the propensity to reside with grandparents and later life outcomes, or intergenerational transfers for immigrants, are of great interest to these student groups. Without diverse perspectives utilizing the methods of demographic research, US policy-making in areas of public health and education will be insufficiently informed. The program will recruit students from the UC Berkeley campus as well as California community colleges as a large proportion of underrepresented students transfer to UCB after completing their first two at junior colleges. The program will provide a graduate student mentor to assist with the quantitative skill acquisition, a minor in demographic theory and methods with a focus on aging, computer software training, workshops in professionalization, applying to graduate school and responsible conduct of research. Beyond that, the cornerstone of the program is mentored research experience, which will take two forms: a mentored research practicum with a faculty member or a specially trained advanced graduate student, and a paid summer internship. Entrance and retention in the program will be merit-based, but will include the very necessary partial scholarship so that students will not feel that additional outside employment is necessary. The elements of the program address the factors deemed necessary for success in STEM fields: providing support for overcoming fear of statistics, getting hands-on meaningful research experience, and getting direction and guidance for a path to graduate school and a career.
This educational program is designed to actively seek out qualified undergraduates from underrepresented groups and train them in the field of demography of aging. Trainees will take coursework in statistical analysis, demographic theory and methods, and research design, will participate in internships and research practice, as well as workshops in professional skills, applying to graduate schools, and the conduct of ethical research. This program creates a foundation for diversity in the necessary voices and perspective for the pressing challenges of an aging population.