The Power of Educating the Whole Student: Student Success Practices that Support Emerging Ocean Scientists in an Era of Change

Laura H Good, California State University, Monterey Bay, College of Science, Seaside, CA, United States and Corey Garza, California State University Monterey Bay, Marine Science, Seaside, CA, United States
Today’s early career ocean scientists face increasing pressures as emerging STEM professionals. Reflecting the shifting career landscape in the geosciences, expectations on ocean students to expand both their academic and leadership skill set, while embracing the complexity of working on real world environmental issues as potential change agents is a daunting task, especially if they belong to underrepresented groups in STEM. It is no surprise therefore, that we see more concern and conversation in recent years around the lack of diversity in environmental leadership as well as the STEM workforce, educational grey areas where those in the geoscience career pipeline are “lost”, poor student mental health in higher education, and the difficulties underrepresented STEM students encounter in their professional endeavors. Here, we review the concept of educating the “whole” student and its relevance to supporting the development of a diverse ocean workforce, thinking through challenges and opportunities the culture of science can present to new scientists, while reflecting on practices that can help to overcome barriers to academic and professional learning. We argue that supporting a diverse ocean workforce requires greater consideration of STEM learning being social and emotional as well as academic, and how we as mentors must improve our own learning of creating more inclusive STEM learning environments. We also discuss the need to think about geoscience student success both inside and outside the academic setting, noting the key experiential and on-the-job learning opportunities that colleges often encourage and inspire, and addressing the significance of students encountering diverse perspectives, persons, and potential career trajectories as a catalyst for their learning.