Field based professional development for Environmental-STEM (ESTEM) undergraduates

Project No.
PI Name
Calla Schmidt
University of San Francisco

Abstract 1

Field based professional development for Environmental-STEM (ESTEM) undergraduates

Presentation Type
Calla Schmidt, University of San Francisco Sarah Hall, College of the Atlantic Becca Walker, Mt San Antonio Community College


This project reimagines the traditional geology field course as a professional development experience to address both the emergence of geoscience tracks such as Environmental Science, Earth System Science, Environmental Studies, and Earth Science Education and the impending shortage of geoscience professionals. Existing STEM retention and diversity programs have identified access to field and professional experiences as critical to helping students identify as scientists, form networks, and gain important skills necessary for employment.


The goals of this project are to (1) expand student awareness of traditional and nontraditional geoscience careers, and the skills and content knowledge beneficial in career preparation; (2) facilitate student development of professional networks prior to transitioning to a 4YCU and/or the workforce; and (3) develop a system for documenting student career preparation and skills acquisition.


To engage a diverse cohort of Environmental-STEM (ESTEM) track undergraduates in hands-on, career-applicable experiences we are working with geoscience professionals from academia, public agencies, consulting, and non-profit organizations (stakeholders) to identify key geoscience career skills. Based on stakeholder feedback we are developing badges to recognize mastery of these skills. A summer field course and post-field seminar are being developed to provide students with opportunities to engage with stakeholders and learn the skills needed to earn badges.


The deliverables of this project will be a field curriculum oriented toward professional development and a series of badges for documenting student skill acquisition. We intend for these deliverables to be easily adapted and adopted at other institutions training ESTEM students.

Broader Impacts

This project will benefit society by preparing undergraduate students to pursue geoscience career pathways, thus strengthening the STEM workforce. With a new model of field course that targets environmental geoscience students, engages stakeholders in the field, and unites a diverse group of learners through institutional collaboration, this project will serve as a model for ESTEM teaching in the field. This project will also demonstrate use of a badges, a new technology, for student assessment at the participating institutions and beyond.

Unexpected Challenges

This project started on September 15th, so we have not encountered any methodological challenges at this point.