OSU Logo

Intellectual Merit

The need for a program such as this is stated in numerous studies that have documented the low participation of ethnic minorities (African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native-Americans and Pacific Islanders) in Earth Sciences careers relative to other STEM disciplines, and the resulting lost contributions of diverse cultures and talents to the Earth Sciences enterprise (e.g., Hrabowski, 1998; NSF, 2001a; Jones, 2002). More practically, the concern about low enrollments in Earth Sciences programs at college level and the potential health of the Earth Sciences enterprise as a whole will be well served if we can better sell the relevance of our discipline to the career goals of the fastest growing groups of our population. Thus, in keeping with the general recommendations of Geosciences Education Working Group II (GEWG II) report (Huntoon et al., 2005) the integrated goals of IDES are to 1) increase participation in the Earth Sciences enterprise by under-represented groups, and by so doing 2) strengthen understanding of the Earth Sciences and their relevance to society among broad and diverse segments of the population.

We recognize several challenges to any programs that attempt to address these goals; namely, recruitment, retention and community support for increasing numbers of Earth Sciences professionals among minorities. Therefore, IDES is built on best practices of successful programs such as the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), and the past experience of the PIs in diversity initiatives previously funded by NSF, NOAA and NASA education divisions. These programs rely on a network of partners that provide a strong pipeline of recruitment, cohort identity (Ibarra, 1999), mentoring, and experiential learning (Hartmann and Hartmann, 2006), that are founded on tieredmentoring (see results of prior NSF funding and PI experience/capabilities; Seymour and Hewitt, 1997). 

NAMSS (later NASENR), which we have particular experience with, was founded on comprehensive multi-tiered mentoring. It included administrators, faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, K-12 students and teachers, along with external advisors and community members. This mentoring network operated at many different levels of interaction. Scientists mentored students in research internships, while students mentored scientists in cross-cultural competencies. Student interns themselves became mentors while teaching and counseling peers and younger students in summer K-12 STEM activities.  Similar tiered mentoring practices have been effectively used in NASA Space Grant programs we have been involved with. 

IDES adopts these best practices and extends them to the goals of OEDG by employing a network of community colleges, major research university, state and federal agencies, and centers of informal education to achieve the following specific objectives:

  1. Prepare participants in IDES for success in the Earth Sciences enterprise

  2. Expose, inform, and involve participants in the breadth of Earth Sciences careers

  3. Instill an understanding of context and relevance of the Earth Sciences enterprise to the participants, their families, their communities, and the general public.  

IDES is designed around the best practice of multi-tiered mentoring. This has been a hallmark of the success of REU programs in general, but more importantly in other successful “STEM diversity” programs such as LSAMP and in particular OSU’s NAMSS/NASENR program. However, we believe we enhance the approach of NAMSS/NASENR in the following ways:

  1. IDES is focused on the Earth Sciences.

  2. IDES is built on a network of partners that provide an extensive pipeline for recruiting, preparing and employing participants to transition to Earth Sciences careers.

  3. IDES serves the broader “under-represented” community, including but not limited to Native Americans.

  4. IDES is focused on career preparation.