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Volume 27 Issue 5 (May 2017)

GSA Today

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Article, pp. 76–77 | Full Text | PDF (241KB)

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Diverse Students Can be Attracted to Geoscience

Suzanne O’Connell*, Martha Gilmore, Renee Johnson-Thornton, Tim Ku, Peter Patton, Phillip Resor, Dana Royer

Earth & Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut 06459, USA

Many challenges facing humanity require geoscience expertise, yet the geoscientists addressing these challenges are predominantly white. More diversity in the profession is needed so that people with different ethnic and economic backgrounds may contribute to addressing geoscience challenges. Over the last 10 years, the geosciences have made substantial improvements in diversity (National Science Foundation, 2015), but we are far from parity with the U.S. population. However, in our department at Wesleyan University, visitors have commented on the diversity of our student body and ask how it was accomplished. Here we describe a 15-year process of changes we have made that contribute to the increased diversity (Fig. 1). During this time, we modified our curriculum, increased our outreach to underrepresented minority (URM) students, hired new faculty, and increased faculty awareness of specific issues faced by URM students.

Email: soconnell@wesleyan.edu

Manuscript received 10 Feb. 2016; Revised manuscript received 30 Aug. 2016; Manuscript accepted 22 Sept. 2016; Posted online 24 Feb. 2017