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Growing Geography: A View from “The Beach” Strategies for Healthy Departments Special Panel Session Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, Eugene, OR,

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Presentation on theme: "Growing Geography: A View from “The Beach” Strategies for Healthy Departments Special Panel Session Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, Eugene, OR,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Growing Geography: A View from “The Beach” Strategies for Healthy Departments Special Panel Session Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, Eugene, OR, September 2006 Christine M. Rodrigue Chair, Geography, CSULB

2 Geography Major Enrollments in the California State Universities  Geography in the CSU slid 30% from 1,184 in F/92 to 829 in F/02  Geography major enrollments in the CSU have eased back up 10% from F/02 to 910 in F/05

3 Geography Major Enrollments at California State University, Long Beach  Geography at the Beach dropped even more, 44%, from 107 majors in F/92 to 60 in F/00  Since then, Geography enrollments at CSULB have rebounded fully 93% from F/00, reaching 116 in F/05!  We are now the largest CSU undergraduate program

4 Geography at CSULB Compared with All California State Universities  The Beach dropped from 9% of all CSU geography majors in F/92 to 7% in F/00  CSULB relative enrollments have shot up to 13% of the whole in F/05   CSULB accounts for fully 64% of the total system growth in geography from F/02 to F/05!

5 Geography Enrollments at CSULB and Diversity among the Majors  About of our majors were minority students from F/97 to F/02 (about 22-26%)  Non-Hispanic white majors dropped from 48 to 31 in that time  Both groups grew from F/02 to F/05, minority students more than doubling and white students increasing nearly 2/3  Minority majors have climbed to 30-40% of our majors in that time

6 Geography at CSULB: A Healthy Department  Majors have more than doubled since S/01 and become much more diverse  Our M.A. program has held ~ 50 graduate students, and new graduate students tend to come from other programs: 1/3 out of state, 1/3 from the UC system, and 1/3 from CSU programs among the 12 entering in F/05  Full-time faculty have grown from 9 in 1999 to 12 at present to 14 by F/07  The research productivity of the faculty has increased % in that time  Department grant activity has recently included NSF, NSF, National Park Service, and METRANS funds, as well as several local grants and contracts  Faculty distinctions include a Glenda Laws Award, Nystrom Finalist, a Commonwealth Scholar, two Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowships, and a visiting Fulbright Scholar

7 Why So Healthy?  Civil culture among the faculty going back decades: The new faculty value this and perpetuate it  We try to create an environment that students enjoy  We work at diversifying our major  We partner with geographers at “feeder schools”  We actively seek resources to support our students and research  We have a large and well-organized internship program  We publicize our doings to the CSULB administration  Our web page is actively maintained and promoted on listservers

8 Student-Centered Activities  Advising:  One undergraduate advisor (Paul Laris) who gets departmental released time  He is always available, even for drop-in visitors without appointments  He has come up with advising “5 step plans” and “roadmaps”  He and I developed a suggested pathway through General Education  We met with Academic Advising (first department to do so) to provide major information and the pathway, and they promoted our GE courses  He advises the student club  Geography Student Association:  Energetic group now  We encourage them to mentor juniors into club positions for continuity  They developed an alumni newsletter for us  They host “cultural nights out,” field trips, and wine-tasting fund-raisers  They actively support Geography Awareness Week/GIS Day  They have a very active student listserver

9 Diversity  Geography participated in the NSF-funded Geoscience Diversity Enhancement Project at CSULB (GDEP)  Collaborated with Geological Sciences and Anthropology departments  Partnered with several local community college and high school faculty  Mentored 29 underrepresented CC & HS students into geoscience summer research projects at CSULB from  Faculty got a better understanding of challenges poorer, urban, minority students face, which has altered our paedagogy  There is a lasting geosciences community of geographers, geologists, archaeologists at CSULB, several local community colleges, and the LBUSD  We have seen an uptick in transfers, and the geography major diversified during GDEP GDEP was funded by NSF GEO

10 Feeder Schools  Community colleges are disproportionately important as gateways into higher education for underrepresented students  Geography is a “late-bloomer” major, so we depend on geography instruction at the CCs  Geography at CSULB cultivates ties with CCs and HSs  GDEP  Geography Awareness Week/GIS Day programs at CSULB and at CC campuses  Community college luncheons and workshops at CSULB  Several community college faculty now serve as part-time adjunct faculty  Two faculty gave a campus-wide demonstration of GIS and remote sensing at Lakewood High organized by two of our GDEP partners  Community college transfers at our campus orientation program have increased from 1-2 per summer to 7-8

11 Conclusions  The Beach is successfully swimming against the trends in CSU System geography  The health of The Beach may reflect:  A geography faculty that has avoided factionalization and the consequent loss of energy: This is central  A research-active and grant-seeking faculty, who seek out research opportunities and funding for undergraduate and graduate students  Acknowledging the many contributions that community college geography programs make to our program:  Recruiting majors for us  Providing access to higher education for underrepresented and poorer students  Interdepartmental collaborations, such as GDEP, that have built friendly ties and mutual assistance among departments that are often rivals on other campuses and connected us with local CCs and HSs  Seeking out Academic Advising, which handles all advising for undeclared majors on our campus, and getting them information about geography, careers in geography, and how to utilize general education to deepen the geography major

12 Acknowledgments and More Information  I would like to acknowledge NSF GEO for supporting GDEP   Other related papers are available from  The Beach welcomes the APCG to Long Beach in October 2007!


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