Implementing Novel Solutions for Promoting Cultural Change In Geoscience Research & Education (INSPIRE)

Lead PI: Vicki Ferrini , Dr. Robin E. Bell , Reginald Blake, Valerie Purdie-Greenaway, Hamidreza Norouzi

Unit Affiliation: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

November 2022 - October 2027
Global ; North America ; New York City
Project Type: Research Outreach Education Fellowship

DESCRIPTION: Implementing Novel Solutions for Promoting Cultural Change In Geoscience Research & Education (INSPIRE) program delivers a multi-faceted solution for transforming culture, shifting power, and authentically engaging underserved communities within the transdisciplinary earth and environmental sciences. INSPIRE will mentor, train, and develop early-career researchers and professionals historically underrepresented in the geosciences. By strengthening relationships between research institutions and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), INSPIRE will decolonize geoscience, prioritize engagement of communities through co-design of research programs, and promote the equitable sharing of geoscientific knowledge broadly across our nation. INSPIRE will foster a just, equitable, and inclusive geoscience research community that reflects the diversity of the nation and is rooted in multi-directional listening and knowledge transfer.

INSPIRE will focus on two cohort populations of future geoscience leaders at the transition points where they are often lost: 1) prior to graduate school; and, 2) prior to tenure. Bridge Scholars (post-baccalaureates) will be supported and trained through a climate-focused Bridge-to-PhD program that will include enrolling in graduate-level classes, participating in research, and launching an evidence-based self-affirmation component, the Armor Project. Visiting Fellows (early career faculty/researchers at MSIs) will gain skills and experience for developing community-focused geoscience research through their home institutions with collaborative support from - and partnerships with - Columbia University scientists. Reciprocal visits from Columbia hosts/mentors to the Visiting Fellow home institutions will be an integral part of their collaboration and will strengthen institutional partnerships. Participants from both cohorts will engage with communities in New York City to gain experience with community-focused co-design of geoscience research. The Columbia geoscience community, including its alumni, will participate in coordinated action of mentoring and support, and will offer networking opportunities to members of both cohorts. A Council of Cultural Advisors of scientists and scholars from MSIs and BIPOC leaders in STEM will provide guidance and feedback on program directions through communications and biannual meetings. Together with their mentors, host and collaborators, INSPIRE’s 14 Visiting Fellows and 16 Bridge Scholars will become agents of change who will propagate aspects of this novel research and education ecosystem into multiple institutions.

INSPIRE will deliver novel solutions for systemic change and cultural transformation long overdue in the geosciences. It will support and sustain Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA)-centered programs, and will create resources and opportunities for new programs to flourish. The envisioned cultural transformation will increase the creativity, equity, relevance, and impact of geoscience.