2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 60-1
Presentation Time: 1:35 PM


GATES, Alexander E., Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University, 101 Warren St, Smith Hall Room 136, Newark, NJ 07102, agates@rutgers.edu

Impoverished inner city areas in the United States represent the largest untapped source for human resources in geosciences. Overcoming the many obstacles to this resource from poverty to crime is a major challenge. The Highlands to Piedmont geoscience education program in Newark, NJ has developed several strategies that are effective at both attracting underrepresented minority students from this group and retaining them in a well-defined pathway through college and into a career. These strategies include classroom enrichment, summer institutes, dual credit courses, 2 + 2 programs with community colleges, student financial support, interactions with museums and local institutions and industrial/school/foundation support. Primarily, the activities are applied and interesting if not fun for the students to attract them. Many of these students are the first generation in their families to even consider college so there are few role models. It is therefore important to engage the families as well as the students. Careers are of primary importance in college and many have had little exposure to geoscience careers. Family education and advisement including involving industrial partners to show the practical applications are essential. Connecting geoscience to community improvement of environment and public health is also desirable for the students and their families. Strong partnerships with local schools and museums and even unconventional resources enduring and successful high-impact activities and give widespread exposure to the effort. Recycling enthusiasm for geoscience by employing students who have completed activities to then help run them both provides the younger students with a role model and clear next step in the pathway but also gives the advanced students a sense of responsibility to succeed and be an effective role model for students similar to themselves. It also develops a culture of acceptance to even desire for geoscience. Well-developed activities with strong outcomes attract both the media and funding from foundations and other sources. Maintaining a high profile and seizing every opportunity to promote the program yields the strongest results and attracts other opportunities.