New Effort to Support Two-Year College STEM Programs Announced

American Geophysical Union Receives NSF Grant to Host Workshop on Best Practices for Supporting Two-Year College Students Pursuing STEM Degrees

16 February 2012

Joint Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Two-year colleges play a vitally important role in the higher education system in the U.S., but when it comes to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), many students from these institutions do not finish their degrees or succeed in transferring to completing programs at four-year colleges. Fixing this ‘leak’ in the STEM pipeline is at the heart of a new effort being led by the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

Unique Research Experiences for two-year College faculty And Students (URECAS) is intended to support and foster two-year college students in their Earth and space science educational careers, including those who choose to transfer to four-year institutions, and ultimately create pathways for them to enter the workforce. Also, because two-year colleges attract a large population of students from underrepresented groups, URECAS is focused on building diversity in the Earth and space science professional workforce, which is a strategic priority for AGU.

“We know that the work Earth and space scientists do plays an important role in our society in a number of ways, from providing the basic knowledge about why natural hazards put society at risk to building a technological foundation for our economic competitiveness,” said AGU president Michael McPhaden. “That’s why it’s so important that we support a steady pipeline of talented people who can meet the scientific demands for the workforce of the future.”

Planning for URECAS has been underway since the fall of 2011, and after receiving a National Science Foundation (NSF) planning grant, AGU began putting together an information-gathering workshop that will take place in summer 2012. The workshop will bring together two-year college Earth and space science faculty who are currently conducting research with students via traditional courses, as well as others who may be encouraging their students to participate in summer research programs, with faculty  from four-year programs who have successfully transitioned two-year college students. The purpose of the workshop is to increase awareness of existing Earth and space science research programs, as well as help to identify relevant barriers to participation for both students and faculty. From these discussions, AGU will gather, develop, and disseminate best practices and guidelines, as well as begin work to define the path toward implementation of a full program.

Workshop participants are now being recruited, and additional information can be found on the AGU Web site.

The American Geophysical Union is a not-for-profit, professional, scientific organization with more than 60,000 members representing over 148 countries. AGU advances the Earth and space sciences through its scholarly publications, conferences, and outreach programs.

AGU Contact:

Joan Buhrman, 202-777-7509 (w), 571-213-3812 (c), E-mail: [email protected]