The National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) Initiative is a Foundation-wide effort to accelerate improvements in the quality and effectiveness of undergraduate education in all STEM fields including the learning, social, behavioral, and economic sciences. Undergraduate STEM education is critical for preparing both a diverse STEM workforce and a STEM-literate public that is ready to support and benefit from the progress of science [Reference 1]. The IUSE initiative provides a Foundation-wide framework of investments to support the agency’s commitment to the highest caliber undergraduate STEM education. By improving the quality and effectiveness of undergraduate education in all STEM fields, IUSE investments enable NSF to lead national progress toward a diverse and innovative workforce and a STEM-literate public.
Through the IUSE framework, NSF coordinates its investments in undergraduate programs and undergraduate STEM education to maximize impact, and to use shared metrics and appropriate program evaluation approaches. These investments are made across all directorates and address both STEM education in general and specific disciplinary needs. IUSE investments support a variety of activities including the inclusion of inquiry-based and active learning approaches in undergraduate STEM instruction, efforts to increase undergraduate STEM research experiences and courses, and research on the persistence and graduation of students in STEM programs. In addition, specific emerging cross-disciplinary needs include data science preparation for students in all majors, recruitment and retention of women and of students from underrepresented groups in STEM degree programs, incorporation of undergraduate research in STEM fields for STEM majors and non-majors, and re-envisioning of introductory courses in light of new research findings and theories. IUSE also seeks to broaden participation in STEM fields from all sectors and groups in society and proposers are encouraged to establish linkages, as appropriate, with components of the national network of NSF INCLUDES projects [Reference 2 in the Program Description section].
The Directorate for Geosciences (GEO) contributes to the IUSE initiative through the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Pathways into the Geosciences – Earth, Ocean, Polar and Atmospheric Sciences (IUSE:GEOPAths) funding opportunity. IUSE:GEOPAths invites proposals that specifically address the current needs and opportunities related to education within the geosciences community through the formation of STEM Learning Ecosystems that engage students in the study of the Earth, its oceans, polar regions and atmosphere. The primary goal of the IUSE:GEOPAths funding opportunity is to increase the number of students pursuing undergraduate and/or postgraduate degrees through the design and testing of novel approaches that engage students in authentic, career-relevant experiences in geoscience. In order to broaden participation in the geosciences, engaging students from historically excluded groups or from non-geoscience degree programs is a priority. While maintaining elements from the legacy tracks of GEOPATHS, this solicitation features three new funding tracks that focus on Geoscience Learning Ecosystems (GLEs):
- GEOPAths: Informal Networks (IN). Collaborative projects in this track will support geoscience learning and experiences in informal settings for teachers, pre-college (e.g., upper level high school) students, and early undergraduates in the geosciences.
- GEOPAths: Undergraduate Preparation (UP). Projects in this track will engage pre-college and undergraduate students in extra-curricular experiences and training in the geosciences with a focus on service learning [Reference 3 in the Program Description section] and workplace skill building.
- GEOPAths: Graduate Opportunities (GO). Projects in this track will improve research and career-related pathways into the geosciences for undergraduate and graduate students through institutional collaborations with a focus on service learning and workplace skill building.
Please read the full program announcement before preparing your internal application.
Regardless of which track is selected, the program expects to offer approximately 18 awards, with the average total award size expected to be in the $300,000 to $350,000 range. The duration of awards for all tracks will be up to 36 months. Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.
A Principal Investigator may serve in the role of PI or Co-PI on only one proposal per competition if they are at the sole-submitting organization or the lead organization of a collaborative project, but may serve as the Co-PI for a non-lead organization of a collaborative project more than once per competition.
The limitation on eligible organizations noted above applies only to sole submitting organizations or lead organizations of a collaborative proposal. All other eligible organizations identified in the PAPPG are eligible to participate as the non-lead institution of a collaborative proposal. In addition, the following eligibility limitations apply:
GEOPAths:Informal Network (IN) proposals: The following institutions and organizations are eligible to submit proposals as the sole submitting organization or lead institution in a collaborative proposal:
Institutions of higher education (as defined in section 101 (a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965) in the United States and its territories that grant associate, baccalaureate, or graduate degrees in the disciplines listed in the National Center for Education Statistics’ Classification of Instructional Programs.
Nonprofit, non-academic organizations (independent museums, observatories, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations) located in the U.S. that are directly associated with educational or research activities.
GEOPAths:Undergraduate Preparation (UP) proposals: NSF is restricting the eligibility of institutions that may serve as the sole submitting institution or the lead institution in a collaborative proposal in order to increase opportunities for smaller and/or primarily undergraduate institutions that have less access to significant Federal funding for STEM research and related infrastructure. The following institutions are eligible to submit proposals as the sole submitting organization or lead institution in a collaborative proposal:
Only institutions of higher education (as defined in section 101 (a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965) in the United States and its territories that grant associate, baccalaureate, or graduate degrees in the disciplines listed in the National Center for Education Statistics’ Classification of Instructional Programs database are eligible to submit proposals, with the following restrictions: institutions identified by the Carnegie Classification in effect at the time of this solicitation’s submission deadline as “Doctoral Universities: Very High Research Activity” may not serve as the lead institution and may only submit proposals as the non-lead institution of a collaborative GEOPAths:UP proposal.
GEOPAths:Graduate Opportunities (GO) proposals: The following institutions are eligible to submit proposals as the sole submitting organization or lead institution in a collaborative proposal:
Only institutions of higher education (as defined in section 101 (a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965) in the United States and its territories that grant associate, baccalaureate, or graduate degrees in the disciplines listed in the National Center for Education Statistics’ Classification of Instructional Programs database are eligible to submit proposals as the sole submitting organization or lead institution in a collaborative proposal, with no restrictions on institution type.
- Intellectual Merit: The Intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge; and
- Broader Impacts: The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.
The following elements should be considered in the review for both criteria:
- What is the potential for the proposed activity to
- Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and
- Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
- To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
- Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
- How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?
- Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?
Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria
- Participant Recruitment: Is the recruitment and selection process described with sufficient detail? Is the recruitment plan likely to attract a diverse population of students that would benefit from the proposed activities?
- PI Team: Does the project team have sufficient experience in supporting students in the types of activities being proposed?
- Organizational Commitment: Is organizational commitment outlined well in the proposal and is the evidence of support for the project sufficient to achieve the goals and objectives?
- Connection to Research on Geoscience Education: How well informed are the vision and execution plan by the literature and prior attempts, if applicable, to implement change. Is the expectation of success well-justified?
- Connection to Careers: Is there a sufficient connection in the proposed project to viable workforce paths in the geosciences?
- Student Recruitment/Mentoring Plan: Is there a mentoring plan in place for student participants? The plan should emphasize strategies to ensure inclusive environments, programming and experiences with a focus on retention and movement of participants to the next appropriate level of education and research acumen (including but not limited to sufficient training for faculty and staff to successfully undertake their roles as mentors and supervisors of the student participants).
- Project Evaluation and Reporting: Will the evaluation and monitoring plan provide sufficient documentation that project goals and outcomes have been realized?
- Potential for Sustainability: What is the potential for sustaining project activities and/or institutional collaborations after funding ends?
An Institution may serve as sole submitting organization or as lead organization of a collaborative project on only one proposal. Organizations may serve as the non-lead organization of a collaborative project more than once per competition.
If you are interested in submitting for this program, you must first submit an internal application to firstname.lastname@example.org according to the required instructions below.
Internal Applications must include the following:
- A cover page listing
- The name of this funding opportunity and title of your proposal
- Your name, UGA position, home department, email, and UGA contact information
- Collaborator names, positions, and institutions (if any)
- Indicate whether or not you have submitted to this program in the past. If so, please provide a copy of the review at the end of the internal application.
- A (maximum two-page) proposal summary that addresses the program’s specific selection criteria.
- One paragraph describing why this proposal should be UGA’s submission (i.e., why it will be the most competitive for this program)
- Curriculum vitae
Limited Submission announcements often generate multiple competing proposals. UGA reviewers judge proposals as they would in any peer review process, so PIs are urged to put their best foot forward. Along with typical criteria, reviewers will evaluate internal proposals based on their fit with the sponsor’s articulated goals and criteria.
Internal Submission Instructions
The above internal application materials should be submitted via email as a single .PDF file to email@example.com by the internal deadline listed above.
Please submit questions regarding the internal competition to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For questions directly related to this program, please contact the following program officers:
- M. Brandon Jones, GEO/OAD, telephone: (703) 292-4713, email: email@example.com
- Elizabeth L. Rom, GEO/OCE & GEO/OPP, telephone: (703) 292-7709, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Amanda (Manda) S. Adams, GEO/AGS, telephone: (703) 292-8521, email: email@example.com
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