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Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences honored for student diversity efforts

Mar 29, 2024

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the Indiana University School of Science in Indianapolis was recently named one of two partner institutions for the 2023 American Geophysical Union’s Bridge Program. The honor recognizes its graduate program as one of the nation’s best for students from diverse backgrounds, and the only partner program in Indiana.

Created in 2019, the American Geophysical Union Bridge Program is designed to increase representation of historically marginalized students in graduate geoscience education. The program works with departments nationwide to ensure that equitable advising and education practices are implemented, and it provides direct professional support to individuals entering graduate school.

Kathy Licht, Indiana University School of Science earth sciences professor and department chair. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana Uni... Kathy Licht, Indiana University School of Science earth sciences professor and department chair. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University Geosciences is one of the least diverse STEM fields. According to a 2021 survey conducted by the American Geosciences Institute, more than 90% of recent geosciences graduates with a master’s or doctoral degree were white. Kathy Licht, professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said that for the past 2 1/2 years, faculty in the department have been intentionally working to make the graduate programs more inclusive, supportive and equitable.

“We meet biweekly to learn about the challenges faced by students from historically marginalized populations, try to remove barriers to student success and use our new awareness to take actions that create a more inclusive climate for all students,” Licht said. “We are thrilled that our efforts have been recognized by the American Geophysical Union and honored that our DEI efforts put us among the leading graduate programs in the country.”

The Bridge Program partners with 51 geosciences departments across the United States, offering students a free, single-use application to graduate school that can be reviewed by all 51 partner departments. If a student accepts an offer to attend graduate school within the Bridge Program, they receive American Geophysical Union membership, access to mentoring programs, networking opportunities with peer students, and invitations to bridge program events and resources.

Earning a partnership with the American Geophysical Union is not an easy feat. Departmental applications to the program must demonstrate a serious commitment to equitable education practices and meaningful support for graduate scholars from historically marginalized communities.

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences’ acceptance into the Bridge Program not only recognizes its dedication toward equity and inclusion but also broadens the impact it can continue to make toward bolstering graduate education and strengthening research in earth sciences.

“Our involvement with the American Geophysical Union Bridge Program further raises our national profile by directly connecting us with outstanding prospective graduate students from around the country,” Licht said. “We know diverse groups are more innovative, and we are excited to have this opportunity to attract some of the most creative emerging scientific minds from around the U.S.”

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School of Science

Devin Voss

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