Program Summary:

MSI-REaCH: Minority-Serving Institution-Reconstructing Earth’s Climate History Program to Enhance Ocean and Climate Curricula and Provide Authentic Research Opportunities for Faculty and Students

This collaborative project expands on an NSF 2012-2013 OEDG Planning Grant; it utilizes scientific ocean core data, tested curriculum, mentoring, and research experiences to provide MSI faculty and students opportunities to explore past climate, and thereby gain valuable geological context for understanding modern climate change and future climate projections. MSI-REaCH will draw from the vast array of publically-available marine core data on past climate change, and guide faculty through the process of integrating paleoclimate curricular materials into their courses and forming research questions for them to pursue with undergraduate students. This approach will lead to enhanced scientific literacy, and options for mentored MSI undergraduate student research.

The short courses, follow-up meetings, and partnering of each MSI faculty participant with both a research and a pedagogical mentor will be a team-building experiential learning process that models the nature of scientific investigation and presentation. It will support collaborations across the 2YC-4YC-R1 spectrum, open doors to more advanced geoscience study for underrepresented students, and create a reproducible template for other undergraduate educational and research-based initiatives focused on complimentary paleoclimate archives such as ice cores, continental sediment records, and tree ring records.

The MSI-REaCH program is a collaboration among the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, James Madison University, American Meteorological Society, and Los Angeles Valley College that greatly advances work completed during a 2012-2013 NSF planning grant and expands on three major NSF awards. The goal of the project is to provide minority-serving institution (MSI) faculty and students with scientific training, mentoring, and collaboration opportunities for the purposes of (1) enhancing scientific literacy, (2) integrating research-based, data-rich paleoclimate curricula into their undergraduate courses, and (3) creating a foundation for MSI student paleoclimate research, thus strengthening pathway towards advanced geoscience study and careers.

Over the three-year project period, MSI-REaCH will include a series of professional development opportunities for about 32 MSI faculty focused on paleoclimate marine research data and the pedagogy for adding inquiry-based exercise modules and prototype research experiences to local curricula. The project team will conduct two Schools of Rock experiential learning short courses and a follow-up workshop at a geoscience conference, foster an educational and research network of colleges and universities, and administer a formal faculty and student research mentoring program. The group will also support MSI faculty as they adapt and develop paleoclimate activities, demonstrations and/or lectures to supplement existing survey level courses or form the foundation of new courses, design and implement prototype authentic research experiences for undergraduates that incorporate data from scientific ocean drilling, and provide select MSI students with the opportunity to attend an immersive short course.

To administer the project, the team will partner with institutions across the two year college, four year college, and research university spectrum involved in scientific ocean drilling research, including Texas A&M University, which houses the Gulf Coast Repository, Ohio State University, University of Texas at El Paso, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and North Hennepin Community College. The WestEd STEM program will design and implement ongoing evaluation tools that measure the cognitive and behavioral impacts of each phase of MSI-REaCH on participating faculty and students. Coupled with regular observations and discussions, this information will be used to adjust content delivery strategies and guide the materials development process.