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Increasing Scientific Literacy at Minority Serving Institutions Nationwide

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Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Increasing Scientific Literacy at Minority Serving Institutions Nationwide
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
James A. Brey, American Meteorological Society, Washington, DC; and I. W. Geer, J. M. Moran, E. W. Mills, and K. A. Nugnes

Poster PDF (9.6 MB)

Increasing students' geoscience literacy, especially those at minority serving institutions (MSIs) is a primary goal of the AMS Education Program. In working with many organizations, the AMS is bringing meteorology, oceanography, and paleoclimate course work to more students, strengthening the pathway towards advanced geoscience study and careers.

With the support of NSF and NASA, and a partnership with Second Nature, the organizing entity behind the American College and University President's Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), the first AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project was held in May 2012 in Washington, D.C. Thirty faculty members from 16 different states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. attended the week-long workshop. They were immersed in the course materials, received presentations from high-level speakers from the NOAA/NWS National Centers for Environmental Prediction, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Howard University LSAMP, University of Maryland, and the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, and trained as change agents for their local institution.

Following the workshop, faculty work within their MSI to introduce and enhance geoscience curricula, thereby bringing change from within. They offer the AMS Climate Studies course at their campus in the year following workshop attendance, and are also encouraged to implement the AMS Weather Studies and AMS Ocean Studies courses. Subsequent workshops will be held throughout the next 3 years, targeting 100 MSIs. The AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project followed the successful models of the AMS Weather Studies (2002-2007) and AMS Ocean Studies (2006-2008) Diversity Projects, from which more than 200 MSIs offered the courses to over 16,000 students. Many institutions continue to offer the meteorology and oceanography courses.

AMS Climate Studies takes an innovative approach to studying climate science, by exploring the fundamental science of Earth's climate system and addressing the societal impacts relevant to today's students and teachers. The course utilizes resources from respected organizations, such as the IPCC, the US Global Change Research Program, NASA, and NOAA. In addition, faculty and students learn about basic climate modeling through the AMS Conceptual Energy Model. Following the flow of energy in a clear, simplified model from space to Earth and back sets the stage for differentiating between climate, climate variability, and climate change. Designed to be adaptable to traditional, hybrid, or online instructional settings, AMS Climate Studies has already been adopted by more than 72 institutions since fall 2010. Course materials include a hardcover textbook, an investigations manual, and an optional online lab component, Current Climate Studies, which is updated weekly throughout the semester. This presentation will showcase the AMS Conceptual Energy Model as well as course work from the investigations manual and Current Climate Studies.

Additionally, the AMS Education Program, James Madison University (JMU), and Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC), are working in collaboration with the Consortium for Ocean Leadership/Integrated Ocean Drilling Program's (IODP) Deep Earth Academy (DEA) to integrate investigations of ocean core data of paleoclimates into course curricula of MSIs. In June 2012, this team participated in a four-day workshop at the Gulf Coast Repository at Texas A&M to gain direct experience with ocean core investigations. The MSI faculty representatives on the team were drawn from the 170 MSI faculty who participated in the AMS Weather Studies and Ocean Studies Diversity Projects. The goal is to form a trained team, composed of MSI faculty, content area specialists, pedagogy specialists, and leaders in evaluation, to help guide the future, large-scale integration of scientific ocean drilling paleoclimate research into existing MSI geoscience courses, and the development of new course offerings. The paleoclimate investigations are also poised to strengthen the laboratory components of AMS Ocean Studies and AMS Climate Studies. This plan will open avenues to more advanced geoscience study for underrepresented students. The AMS Education Program is excited to reach even more MSI faculty and students through these projects, leading to geoscience concentrations at more MSIs throughout the nation and to greatly increase the number of minority students entering geoscience careers, including science teaching.