University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) IUSE Program initiatives to advance the participation of Native Americans in the Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences
The goal of the UMM IUSE program is to increase the number of Native American graduates in the interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences. Native Americans are underrepresented in the science. Of the approximately 450,000 Science degrees awarded at the Bachelors level in 2010, 3624 went to Native Americans (annually less than 1% of the STEM degrees awarded in the U.S. go to Native Americans). The UMM IUSE Program is designed to address this disparity in participation by encouraging of Native American students of all age to envision both their success and potential contributions in the study of the environmental sciences. The complexity of the environment demands insights that cross traditional academic fields and approaches to environmental problems require a diversity of viewpoints. Increasing the number of Native American scientists in the interdisciplinary environmental fields will ultimate lead to broader perspective on approaches to the environment.
To encourage success at every level of academic development, the focus of the UMM IUSE program is on ﾓtransitionsﾔ; specifically, the transitions from high school to college and college to the work force. In development is an additional program that will focus on the transition from tribal college to university.
The UMM Wind-STEP program is a 2-week residential program for rising Native America high school juniors and seniors. Wind-STEP participants conduct research using GIS to determine the feasibility and environmental impact of placing a wind turbine on a given reservation.
The ﾓIUSE Summer Internship Programﾔ partners Native American science majors interested in Environmental Sciences with scientists at a local environmental consulting firm, a university outreach and research center and a USDA soil lab.
Efforts to increase participation of Native Americans in the sciences have been successful. UMM Institutional Research metrics indicate the number of Native American STEM majors has increased from 33 in Fall 2007 to 103 in Fall 2014. Thirty-six students from six reservations (Upper Sioux, White Earth, Rosebud, Pine Ridge , Leech Lake and Lake Traverse) have participated in the Wind-STEP program over 5 years (the first 4 were supported by the NSF STEP program). The Wind-STEP participants complete a program survey and all have said that they would �recommend the program to a friend� and over half choose �enthusiastic� as their �overall reaction to the program�. Twenty-six of the 36 Wind-STEP participants have now graduated high school and 12 of the 26 graduates have started college (4 at UMM). Six students participated in the IUSE Summer Internship Program. All six are continuing on in a STEM major and 3 will present abstracts at the national AISES Meeting
The foundational principles of the UMM IUSE program: the study of the environmental sciences, the encouragement of Native American participation and the belief that educated individuals will positively impact their community - resonate with the core values of UMM. Education is the long-term solution to complex environmental problems and the goal of the UMM IUSE program is to develop model programs in undergraduate STEM education that will diversify the interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences.
Recruiting Native American students for residential summer programs. Seeking the aid of local educators to identify students and to encourage them to participate.
Cotter, James F.P. and Anderson Folnagy, H.J.; 2015; The University of Minnesota Morris Geology Programs initiatives to advance the participation of Native Americans in the Geoscience Workforce. Geological Society of America National Meeting Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 47, no.1.
Cotter, James F.P., Adams, D and Gilbertson, L; 2011; The University of Minnesota Morris Wind-STEP Program: an initiative to encourage the participation of Native Americans in the sciences. Abstracts with Program, Geological Society of America National Meeting, Minneapolis, Vol 43, no.1