Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University, the three public state universities, are each a part of the five new National Science Foundation (NSF) INCLUDES Alliances.
INCLUDES, or Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science, is the NSF’s initiative to “enhance preparation, increase participation and ensure the inclusion of individuals from historically underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.”
Currently, a little more than 30% of the U.S. population is Black, Indigenous, or Latinx. By 2050, the percentage is expected to increase to 40%. These groups, in addition to women, those from low-income backgrounds and those with disabilities, continue to be underrepresented in STEM.
The NSF Alliances are meant to change that narrative.
“Creating pathways to success for a STEM workforce reflective of the U.S. population is of national importance to ensuring America’s competitiveness in a global research landscape,” said Sylvia Butterfield, the acting assistant director for NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate, in the announcement of the new grants.
The Arizona universities are part of three of the five new Alliances. The Alliances are:
- Accelerate Latinx Representation in STEM Education with Institutional Intentionality and Capacity Building for Experiential Learning: ASU is heading this Alliance, which will develop a network of faculty, staff, administrators and students at two- and four-year Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) and emerging HSIs to increase Latinx representation in STEM education.
- Broadening Career Pathways in Food, Energy, and Water Systems with and within Native American Communities: UArizona will work with the University of California, Berkeley to focus on two crises facing native populations — access to food, energy and water and limited educational and career pathways available to Indigenous populations. The lead universities will work with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and over 20 other partners to increase participation of Indigenous peoples in the environmental sciences.
- The Alliance of Students with Disabilities for Inclusion, Networking and Transition Opportunities in STEM: Auburn University is heading this Alliance. Five other universities with direct regional hubs to address this need. Auburn will be the Southeastern Hub and NAU will be the Mountain Hub. The other institutions include Ohio State University (Northeastern Hub), the University of Hawaii-Manoa (Islands Hub), the University of Missouri-Kansas City (Midwest Hub) and the University of Washington (West Coast Hub). The mission of this Alliance is to increase the number of students with disabilities who complete STEM degrees and join STEM fields post-graduation.
The other two Alliances are the Alliance for Identity-Inclusive Computing Education – A Collective Impact Approach to Broadening Participation in Computing, which will be led by Duke University, and Engineering Partnerships Launching Underrepresented Students (PLUS), led by Northeastern University.
Each Alliance will build partnerships involving public, private and academic sectors and share best practices and knowledge on how to broaden participation in STEM.