Increasing Diversity in the Earth Sciences – Impact of the IDES Program in Oregon
Abstract:The NSF-OEDG funded Increasing Diversity in the Earth Sciences (IDES) program hosted at Oregon State University targets undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds and diverse ethnicity to engage in research. Partnering with local community colleges, non-traditional students are the hallmark of this program. The IDES program has several components to support the students in the transition from community college to the four-year universities of Oregon State University and Portland State University. Over the four years, the program has adapted while adhering to its primary goals: (1) to increase the number of students from underrepresented groups who prepare for and pursue careers in Earth Science research and education, and (2) to strengthen the understanding of Earth Sciences and their relevance to society among broad and diverse segments of the population.
Now in its final year under an extension, 53 participants have participated in the program. An ongoing external evaluation of the program reveals that the various stakeholders consider IDES very successful. Participant surveys and interviews document several impacts: expanded opportunities, making professional contacts, building self-confidence, enhanced ability to be employable, and personal acknowledgement. Research mentors and administrators from partner institutions see positive impacts on the students and on their organizations. Challenges include better communication between the IDES program, mentors, and students.
IDES is poised to move forward with its current experiences and successes as a foundation for further funding. IDES-like activities can be funded from private sources and it is a good fit for funding from Research Experiences for Undergraduates at NSF. The new emphasis on education and research at community colleges is an exciting opportunity and Oregon State University has already used aspects of the IDES program in current grant proposals to obtain funds for more undergraduate research.