The UMM NSF IUSE program: Encouraging the participation of Native Americans in the Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences and Sustainability - an emphasis on transitions
This project seeks to increase the number of graduates in the areas of Environmental Sciences and Sustainability at the University of Minnesota-Morris. Three foci will guide the effort: 1) Inform - introduce students to science early; 2) Prepare - introduce high school students to data collection and quantitative analysis to prepare them for college level science and 3) Support - introduce a supportive network of peer, faculty and industry mentors that will offer guidance to students through all educational transitions. The project plan is grounded in the needs of the local and regional community and should help to increase the participation of Native Americans in the pursuit and attainment of STEM degrees.
The Inform-Prepare-Support framework is integrated throughout the project activities, which include: an early encouragement outreach program involving visits to reservations; a 2-week residential program for Native America high school students who are interested in STEM careers; a summer program for Tribal College science majors involving research projects in environmental science and sustainability; and an enrichment program to mentor career decisions and provide advice for the transition to careers after graduation. Formative and summative evaluation will consist of an analysis of how well the project components align with successful attainment of the goals. In so doing, the project will build on and contribute to the knowledge base regarding the education of Native American students in STEM. In particular, it will address the role played by a culturally responsive approach embedded in long-standing community relationships and circumstances an conditions under which success occurs. Surveys will be employed to collect information about student attitude and perception (project experiences, extent of engagement, and barriers to success). Graduation and retention data will be tracked. Dissemination of the results of evaluation will impact a wide range of educators. Students and faculty will also present research results at the national meeting of the American Indian Science and Engineer Society.