The Causeway Postbaccalaureate Program is aimed at increasing the number of American students from groups traditionally underrepresented in doctoral programs in the mathematical sciences. Specifically, Causeway is a 12-month program providing foundational coursework, research advising, community building, and career mentoring in the context of a strong and supportive community of participants. Beyond its immediate impact, the Causeway program is designed to be scalable, replicable, and sustainable, so that the benefit can extend well beyond mathematics. This project is co-funded by the NSF Research Traineeship Program, which is dedicated to effective training of STEM graduate students in high priority interdisciplinary or convergent research areas through comprehensive traineeship models that are innovative, evidence-based, and aligned with changing workforce and research needs.
Underlying Causeway are three hypotheses which, if true, could inform "best practices" for other institutions and programs, even in fields beyond mathematics. These testable hypotheses are: 1) a sizable cohort increases the likelihood of successful graduate study for participants; 2) a supportive community fosters a sense of identity and inclusion for students in STEM; 3) a broad consortium of supporting institutions can sustain a program beyond its initial period of NSF funding. The control group for the sizable-cohort hypothesis is the population of students in traditional pathways to graduate study in mathematical sciences. Placement of Causeway students in graduate programs will be our primary measure of success. In-depth interviews by a psychology faculty member, focusing on students' progress and evolving identity through the program, will provide qualitative information and feedback about the program.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.