8.1 AMS Education Program Diversity Initiatives: A Celebration of the Past as We Look Forward to New Opportunities to Increase Environmental Literacy

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 10:30 AM
Room 353 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
James A. Brey, AMS, Washington, DC; and E. W. Mills, I. Geer, K. A. Nugnes, and A. E. Stimach

The AMS Education Program celebrates a successful completion to its AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project. The project was funded for 5 years (2011-2016) through the National Science Foundation (NSF). It introduced and enhanced geoscience and/or sustainability-focused course components at minority-serving institutions (MSIs) that are signatories to the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) and/or members of the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP).

The ACUPCC is a high-visibility effort by a network of more than 680 presidents and chancellors committed to achieving climate neutrality by eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations, and making sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experiences for all students. AMS partnered with Second Nature, who manages and supports the ACUPCC and has been actively working with MSIs, giving AMS the opportunity to effectively recruit for the AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project.

During the five years, the project introduced the AMS Climate Studies course to 101 faculty representing 98 MSIs. Each year a cohort of, on average, 25 faculty attended a course implementation workshop where they were immersed in the course materials, received presentations from high-level speakers, and trained as change agents for their local institutions. This workshop was held in the Washington, DC area in collaboration with NOAA, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Howard University, and other local climate educational and research institutions. Following, faculty introduced and enhanced geoscience curricula on their local campuses with AMS Climate Studies course materials, thereby bringing change from within.

Faculty were then invited to the following AMS Annual Meeting to formally report on their AMS Climate Studies course implementation progress, reconnect with their colleagues, and learn new science presented at the meeting. About 79% of the faculty from the first three workshops attended the subsequent AMS Annual Meetings. The final cohort of faculty is in attendance at the 2016 AMS Annual Meeting.

The AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project builds on highly successful, NSF-supported diversity projects for the AMS Weather and Ocean courses conducted from 2001-2008. Together, the three AMS courses have reached 220 MSIs and nearly 100,000 students.

Success with the AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project led to collaborations with Consortium for Ocean Leadership and several colleges and universities on the NSF-supported MSI-REaCH (Reconstructing Earth's Climate History) program. The first MSI-REaCH advanced faculty professional development workshop, focusing on paleoclimate data gained through ocean sediment cores, was held in June 2015 at the Gulf Coast Repository in College Station, TX. Sixteen faculty attended the workshop and formed a Plan of Action for incorporating paleoclimate study into their curricula and using research data with students.

The Climate Diversity Project also led to collaboration with the U.S. Ice Drilling Program Office (IDPO) to offer the School of Ice workshop in Denver, CO in June 2015. This workshop, supported by an award with Lockheed Martin, focused on paleoclimate study through examination of the ice core record. Twelve faculty members attended.

MSI-REaCH is supported by NSF for two more years. AMS and IDPO plan to seek funding to expand School of Ice beyond the initial year. Both programs provide substantive professional development for MSI faculty, most of whom have participated in AMS Diversity Projects, and serve to enhance research-type experiences for students at participating institutions.

The AMS is excited to continue to bring geoscience course work to more students, strengthening the pathway towards advanced geoscience study and careers.

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