by Ray Hayes

For the past few decades, diversity in STEM has seen an overall increase despite some disciplines lagging behind. One of these “laggers” is the field of Geoscience in which minority representation has faulted.  Times seem to be changing for the STEM field however as the National Science Foundation Director for Geoscience (NSF GEO) has announced plans to correct the issue.

In an effort to increase representation in Geoscience, NSF GEO has developed initiatives and ideologies to champion diversity. In 2017, the organization officially launched the GEO Opportunities for Leadership in Diversity (GOLD) Initiative which consists of an array of programs and workshops that are, “designed to support URM (underrepresented minority) faculty and create mechanisms for faculty to effect change.”

One the NSF GEO’s signature workshops is the “Sparks for Change” program which is held in Boulder, Colo in Sept 2017. The website outlined the workshop’s goals. “Sparks for Change believes that triads of diversity champions are best suited to change departmental culture in academia. The triads at the workshop included the following”:

  • sparks, early-career faculty who desire to reshape their department to value broadening participation
  • partners, later-career department chairs or tenured professors in the same department who desire to collaborate in innovative change making
  • sponsors, preeminent broadening participation experts outside of the institutional department

The workshop trained attendees in adaptive, solidarity and transformative leadership theories. Participants plan on releasing future publications on the effectiveness of the leadership theories in stimulating change and its promotion for diversity.

If you interested in learning more about the Sparks for Change initiative click here.