GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 133-12
Presentation Time: 4:35 PM


TORAN, Laura1, NYQUIST, Jonathan E.1, DAVATZES, Alexandra K.1 and BRANDT, Carol2, (1)Earth and Environmental Science, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122, (2)College of Education, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19122,

We are beginning an initiative in the NSF GeoPATH program focused on recruiting, retaining, and providing apprenticeships for students to pursue careers in urban geoscience. We chose the urban geoscience theme to increase the size and diversity of the workforce. Students require examples that illustrate the ways in which geoscience training prepares them for technology and sustainability-oriented jobs addressing local problems such as waste management, flood control, beach nourishment, transportation infrastructure, land subsidence, and the environmental impact of “fracking.” While a geoscience major will continue to appeal to students who love the outdoors, it can equally appeal to a broader urban audience. Our Career Paths for Urban Geoscientists initiative consists of three components. First, we will recruit students by developing career information for students and their parents about geoscience careers, and by including service learning that offers practical applications early in the major (general education and introductory courses). Second, our Urban Geoscientists initiative will focus on retention through math mentoring. Math requirements are often a roadblock for students switching from non-science majors and for student retention. Our approach will be to pair new students with advanced geoscience majors – mentors who understand their struggles. The math mentor program is one example of learning communities that will be formed in the department. The third component includes a certificate program that offers job skills and internship opportunities with local companies. The success of these strategies will be measured through recruitment and retention data, and surveys of how students’ views are changed by information about career opportunities and other initiatives. In preparation, we conducted background surveys of graduating majors and identified strengths and weaknesses in the current program. Temple University, located in the heart of Philadelphia, can serve as a model of recruitment and retention strategies for urban geoscientists, applicable to other universities struggling to attract diverse student populations.