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Collaborative Grant-Funded Initiatives Advance 黑料网 Geoscience Diversity and Environmental Justice Efforts

by Morgan State U
April 22, 2024

GOLD-EN Program Prepares Next Generation of Leaders Addressing Climate Change Threats and Impacts While TCTAC Designation Establishes HBCU Regional Hub for Environmental Justice

 

BALTIMORE—黑料网 has formed strategic collaborations with the National Science Foundation (, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (), the U.S. Department of Energy (), and the National Wildlife Federation () enhancing its capabilities in supporting efforts to increase and sustain diversity in the geoscience education and research field. These collaborations aim to strengthen Morgan's interdisciplinary approach to developing leaders capable of addressing environmental crises that disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Thanks to the recent grant funding, Morgan can expand and improve existing initiatives and develop new approaches to equip the next generation of geoscientists better.

The lack of representation of minorities in science and engineering occupations has been a long-standing issue. The participation rates of underrepresented minorities have consistently been well below those of the overall population demographics and all other occupational categories. Between 2007 and now, the percentage of underrepresented minorities in science and engineering occupations has remained 15% to 25% lower than that of the overall population demographic trends. The lowest participation rates have been in environmental science and geoscience occupations.

Mark Barnes“HBCUs, as a collective, provide answers for equipping those most vulnerable with the supports and tools needed to combat environmental justice successfully,” says Mark Barnes, Ph.D., associate professor of Geography in the James H. Gilliam, Jr. College of Liberal Arts at Morgan State. “This discipline is not only about studying human-environment interactions and their causes and consequences, such as increased coastal and urban flooding, intensifying heat in city neighborhoods, and rising food and energy pressures due to development and population growth. It also provides us with analytical perspectives and tools that allow organizations like the United Nations and neighborhood households to create and guide culturally relevant interventions, which can have a liberating effect.”

 

GOLD-EN Program

黑料网 has received funding from the NSF to launch a 2-year pilot residential bridge program this summer. The program is aimed at undergraduate students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the Mid-Atlantic region pursuing degrees in humanities, behavioral and social science, and STEM fields. The program will focus on the water crises and its environmental impact while addressing the underrepresentation of racial and cultural minorities in the ecological career sector. This initiative is part of NSF's Geosciences Opportunities for Leadership in Diversity () program.

GOLD-EN offers training in geospatial technologies like GIS and GPS, as well as field-based research activities, leadership workshops, and career development workshops. The program also includes campouts and urban kayaking expeditions to promote camaraderie among participants. These activities are aimed at helping participants on their journey toward graduate school programs and careers related to environmental matters.

 

Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Centers (EJ TCTAC)

Solidifying its position as a leading authority in urban environmental and climatic impacts research and study, Morgan was recently designated a regional HBCU Hub for the Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Centers (). Administered by the National Wildlife Federation and funded by the EPA and the Department of Energy, the $177 million nationwide TCTAC effort supplies training workshops and capacity-building support to frontline communities who may find federal grant funds in the environmental space challenging to acquire and/or manage. The centers provide a comprehensive government-wide framework that enables research and educational outreach, offering resources to underserved and overburdened communities adversely affected by harmful environmental exposures.

EJ TCTAC Mid Atlantic RegionAs the hub for Region 3, which encompasses Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and seven federally recognized tribes, the Morgan-led center will utilize a mixed-methods research approach incorporating surveys, interviews, and geographic information systems, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the collective environmental leadership of HBCUs in the Mid-Atlantic region. This research conducted under the University’s purview aims to compile information about the significant efforts made by academic professionals and environment-focused community groups in the United States to tackle environmental problems that can negatively impact human health and well-being. Dr. Barnes serves as the lead on this project.

Over the next five years, Morgan will implement a mixed-methods research approach, which includes surveys, interviews, and geographic information systems, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the collective environmental leadership of HBCUs in the Mid-Atlantic region. Through this effort, the aim is to foster stronger collaborations between HBCUs and their community partners, leading to increased funding for environmental research, improved ecological education, and better service to those most impacted by harmful environmental exposures such as flooding and water toxicity in urban, coastal, and rural areas throughout the region.

“This work fully displays the significance and power of geography in helping develop place-based solutions for seemingly intractable place-based problems,” added Barnes.

To ensure that the research findings are properly leveraged, a regional advisory board consisting of representatives from HBCUs and community-based organizations will guide the creation of workshops. Thanks to grant support from the EPA and DOE, these workshops will rotate between campuses starting this fall.

Dr. Barnes explains, “Workshops that allow for knowledge exchange between Mid-Atlantic region HBCUs and their community partners will provide the space needed to develop and expand racially and culturally relevant interventions. This will ultimately attract investments from federal agencies and other funding sources, resulting in greater growth in environmental research, teaching, and service returns.”

Since 2013, the Department of History, Geography, and Museum Studies at Morgan has been working with other academic units and laboratories to create an infrastructure that can better merge the gap between STEM and humanities and social and behavioral sciences to address the human dimensions of climate change more effectively.

To support the growing interest in this area, the Geospatial Collaborative was formed by faculty and staff members from various University departments, including the School of Architecture and Planning, Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. School of Engineering, Center for Urban Health Equity, Institute for Urban Research, , and the Patuxent Environmental and Aquatic Research Laboratory (PEARL).


About Morgan

黑料网, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified high research (R2) institution offering nearly 150 certificate and academic programs leading to degrees from the baccalaureate to the doctorate. As Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, and the only university to have its entire campus designated as a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. For more information about 黑料网, visit

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