Highline College will increase its support for geoscience education in community colleges nationwide, thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The NSF has awarded a four-year grant of $1.34 million to Highline College for support of the collaborative research project titled, “Faculty as Change Agents: Transforming Geoscience Education in Two-year Colleges.” The project will focus on improving geoscience education in community colleges across the country and is under the direction of Dr. Eric Baer of the Highline College Physical Sciences and Geoscience Program. Geoscience, or earth science, includes any of the sciences that deal with the earth, such as geology, geography, oceanography and hydrology. The grant award begins September 1, 2015, and ends August 31, 2019.

The project is a partnership with Highline College, the College of William & Mary (Virginia), the University of Oregon, the University of Wisconsin Richland, and the Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College (Minnesota) and involves 17 other two-year colleges across the United States. This multifaceted project will support more than 600 faculty and impact more than 250,000 geoscience students throughout the duration of the program, helping to meet the nation’s demand for a well-trained geoscience and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workforce. This project will also promote a ‘cycle of innovation,’ where faculty learn from the research base and the work of others to make changes in their own practice, and share results.

“We will be offering web-based materials and many professional development workshops for faculty that support teaching geoscience in community colleges. Our goal is to create local communities to improve teaching and help students prepare for jobs in the geosciences,” said Baer.

Throughout the course of this project, Baer’s team will also develop support materials to help students identify careers in the geosciences, hold conferences at professional society meetings (such as the Geologic Society of America national meeting) and provide professional development for adjunct faculty.

Dr. Baer is enthusiastic that the grant will allow Highline to continue in its role as a leader in geoscience education at two-year colleges, as the college has received grants from the NSF in support of the geosciences in the past (in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011).

“Indeed I do not think there is any other geoscience program at a community college that has been so successful at garnering support from the National Science Foundation,” he said.

Questions? Contact Dr. Eric Baer at (206) 592-3513 or ebaer@highline.edu.