Nurturing Diversity in STEM Fields through Geography: the Past, the Present, and the Future

  • Tonny J. Oyana Southern Illinois University Carbondale
  • Sonia Garcia Texas A&M University, College Station
  • Timothy Hawthorne Georgia State Universityu
  • Jennifer Ann Haegele Southern Illinois University Carbondale
  • Joe Morgan Jacksonville State University
  • Nekya Young Tennessee State University
Keywords: place-based factors, inquiry-based pedagogy, service learning, spatial behavior, geography, STEM Fields, broadening participation


To date, there has been a wealth of research on participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, but most research focuses on the implementation of programs and whether these programs work or not. Such research can be expanded and enhanced by considering geographic perspectives on participation in the STEM fields and by examining the factors that prevent participation in these fields. In this paper, we seek to examine geographic perspectives to broadening participation in the STEM fields in two ways. We first conduct a literature review on the geographical understanding of barriers and facilitators of higher education that encompasses underrepresented populations in STEM fields. Second, we present a case study that catalyzes geography and seeks to broaden participation in the STEM fields. Both the literature review and case study show the significance and the role played by placed-based factors and approaches, spatial thinking and inquiry-based learning, and environmental education and civic engagement work in helping advance the science of broadening participation in STEM fields.