Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 10:45 AM


RADENBAUGH, Todd A., University of Alaska Fairbanks Bristol Bay Campus, Bristol Bay Environmental Science Laboratory, PO Box 1070, Dillingham, AK 99576,

Western Alaska has a low student population density, requiring undergraduate science education programs to be resilient within small rural campuses. The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) College of Rural and Community Development (CRCD) operates 4 western community campuses located in Bethel, Dillingham, Kotzebue, and Nome that are unconnected by roads. This pressures campuses to have high overhead, limited resources, academic isolation, and few professional development opportunities. To maintain constructive learning conditions, rural campuses need to be creative and use the tools available such as place-based learning and distance education.

To address challenges and promote success, the local western Alaskan workshop Supporting and Advancing Geoscience Education in Two Year Colleges (SAGE 2YC) was held in Nome, AK on 20 Mar 2013 in conjunction with the annual Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference (WAISC). The workshop shared best practices for rural science education and developed strategies for increasing the number of STEM students, tactics to increase retention and graduation, prepare 2YC students to attend 4YC and promote STEM careers. Educational paths include more undergraduate research and internship opportunities, enhancing collaboration between campuses, forming bridges into workforce programs, and developing partnerships. Recruitment of underrepresented students can be promoted by working with local Community Development Quotient groups, native associations, and regional conferences.

Rural students found that the place-based education strategy was important and it has been shown to increase undergraduate retention and research activity. Such curriculum is also used to link broad topics such as climate change, nutrient cycling, and nonrenewable resource management to community resilience and ecosystem health.

It was recognized that Western Alaska provides landscapes that academics worldwide desire to use for field camps, courses, and research activities, but due to the high costs and difficult logistics the region is under used. The rural campuses have much experience doing science and could cooperate with organizations that wish to work in Alaska. Such collaboration would benefit students, educational institutions, and other partners.

  • Radenbaug-GSA 2013 sessionT117.pdf (5.0 MB)