Feds pay $8M+ to promote 'diversity' in STEM
- One project will promote math skills among Native Americans through the “Navajo Nation Math Circle model,” which incorporates “indigenous knowledge systems" into math education in public schools.
- Another will "[increase] the diversity of PhD graduates from the top producers of computing faculty."
The National Science Foundation recently issued 27 new grants totaling more than $8 million to promote “diversity and inclusion” in STEM fields.
On Monday, the agency announced the launch of 27 new “diversity and inclusion” projects funded through grants of roughly $300,000 each through its NSF INCLUDES program, which seeks to develop STEM talent “from all sectors and groups in our society.”
Founded by Congress in 1950, the NSF is a federal agency that seeks to promote the “progress of science” by funding research, according to its website. Bobbie Mixon, the Senior Public Affairs Officer at the NSF, confirmed to Campus Reform that the grants collectively cost American taxpayers a total of “$8,083,298.”
Of these grants, many were explicitly made to fund projects that target racial and ethnic minority populations.
One project, led by professor David Auckly of Kansas State University, aims to promote math skills among Native Americans through the promotion of the “Navajo Nation Math Circle model,” which incorporates “indigenous knowledge systems” into math education in public schools.
“Math circles will work with [indigenous people] to include cultural activities; this helps engage the participants. The main thing math circles do is engage and inspire participants to have fun exploring mathematical problem,” Professor Auckly told Campus Reform.
Another project, led by professor David Shintani of the University of Nevada-Reno, aims to promote “workplace diversity” by preparing “Hispanic students for the region's workforce in advanced manufacturing.”
Shintani told Campus Reform that the grant is needed to help Hispanic and Latino people reap the benefits of “Nevada’s emerging STEM economy” in the coming years. “While Hispanics/Latinos make up approximately 44% of Nevada’s K12 school enrollment... [and] only a small fraction enroll in STEM degree programs,” Shintani told Campus Reform.
“Therefore, as Nevada’s economy shifts away from gaming and tourism and towards high technology and STEM industries, few from the Hispanic/Latino community will be qualified for relatively high paying jobs in companies requiring college STEM degrees,” Shintani added.
Under the lead of Texas A&M professor Valerie Taylor, another project will fight the lack of racial minorities among academia’s computer science professors by “increasing the diversity of PhD graduates from the top producers of computing faculty.”
Recruitment will focus on “African Americans; Hispanics; Native Americans and indigenous peoples; and Persons with Disabilities,” the grant states, adding that the goal is to bolster “the diversity of the PhD graduates from key institutions.”
While the NSF generally funds research related to hard science, they also have a history of funding social justice oriented grants, too. As Campus Reform reported, in July 2017 alone, the NSF granted more than three million to help fight “microaggressions” in STEM fields.
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