3.5 Educating a Diverse Geosciences Workforce: The Role of HBCUs

Tuesday, 8 January 2019: 9:30 AM
North 229AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Rakesh Malhotra, North Carolina Central Univ., Durham, NC; and G. Vlahovic

The Department of Environmental, Earth, and Geospatial Sciences at North Carolina Central University is working on several initiatives to promote Geosciences education, diversity and inclusion in Geosciences at Historically Black Colleges/Universities (HBCUs). This presentation reviews the role of HBCUs in educating a diverse workforce and presents a template for increasing diversity by offering various opportunities in climate, GEOINT and geospatial technologies and related intelligence community professions. The study is based on recruitment and graduation efforts at North Carolina Central University a premier HBCU. We discuss the impact of external funding and training from National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and the American Meteorological Society on the quality of GEOINT and geoscience programs at NCCU as we leverage interdisciplinary offerings to enhance the reach into allied disciplines. The impact of activities such as conference presentations and internship opportunities on student career choices is undeniable. The authors argue that cultivating science degree programs at flagship HBCUs and mentoring students is one of the most important steps for improving the representation of women and African Americans in Geosciences. Minority students rarely enroll as Geosciences majors and it is considered a discovery major that is introduced through mentoring, peer-to-peer communication, and classroom interactions at HBCUs. A comprehensive approach that includes collaboration with major research universities, certification opportunities for students and faculty, development of bridge-to-PhD programs, close contact between students in the graduate and undergraduate programs, and partnership with geospatial associations and government agencies lead to breakthroughs and student success.
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