A research team at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith has published a textbook chapter focusing on ways to increase and enhance diversity in STEM fields.
The chapter, titled "Transforming STEM Departments for Inclusion: Creative Innovation, Challenges, Adaptation, and Sustainability at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith," can be found in the textbook: Broadening Participation in STEM: Effective Methods, Practices, and Programs.
The chapter examines the critical need for a diverse generation of graduates to learn relevant and competitive STEM-related skills. It also explores how UAFS has engaged specific initiatives and activities to address this need.
"Reinvigorating the strategic approaches of UAFS and our outreach initiatives has been a fundamental mission of the institution as we enter year two of our Strategic Plan," said Dr. Edward Serna, interim Chancellor of UAFS. "The research being done across campus to promote innovation is a testament to the dedication of our faculty and staff to constantly explore new means of engaging our students, beginning in K-12, through their time with us and into their graduate studies."
The first section of the chapter gives an introduction to various challenges, obstacles, and hindrances to inclusion in the field of STEM. The second section discusses the historical perspectives of the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith as a regional university. Policies and strategies for addressing the diversity at UAFS are also highlighted. Other approaches including targeted efforts to recruit and retain underrepresented students and innovation of a creative "Math-up" curriculum to broaden participation in STEM at UAFS are highlighted in the latter section of the chapter.
Formation of alliances between UAFS, local K–12 school districts, and governmental and non-governmental agencies are also discussed.
The last section of the chapter provides recommendations sustainability of efforts aimed at transforming national STEM departments for inclusion.
"The Office of P-20 Collaboration strives to bring resources from UAFS to our area schools, particularly in the STEM fields, and diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of all our endeavors with our Pre-K—12 partners," said Jennifer Jennings Davis, Executive Director of the Office of P-20 Collaboration. "We support teachers in advancing student learning in their classrooms and assist K-12 students through various programs and activities that allow them to see themselves as post-high school learners. Whether their paths lead them to pursue a 4-year degree, a 2-year degree, or a technical certificate, UAFS can provide opportunities for their success."
The research team includes the following scholars: Dr. Sayo O. Fakayode, head of the department of physical sciences;Jenn Jennings Davis, executive director of the Office of P-20 Collaboration; Dr. Linus Yu, head of the department of Mathematics and interim head of the department of biological sciences; Dr. Paulette Ann Meikle, associate dean of the College of Languages, Arts, and Social Sciences; Dr. Ron Darbeau, dean of the College of STEM; and Dr. Georgia Hale, provost.