Events Calendar

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Seminar: Place-based Learning Communities Help to Close Equity Gaps in First-year STEM Students

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education's HSI-STEM and Articulation Program awarded a near $4 million grant to Humboldt State University, spanning five years.  The grant-funded program, Pathways to Excellence, is intended to increase the number of Hispanic/Latinx and/or low-income students attaining degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics and to develop model transfer and articulation agreements between two-year and four-year institutions in such fields.  The grant supports the work of four key components, each of which was carefully designed based on evidence from previous studies and from an assessment of HSU's challenges to meet the needs of a diversifying incoming student body.

Place-based learning communities, the first of the components, has had strong impacts on fostering a sense of belonging, stronger engagement, and retention amongst first-year students, particularly those from Latinx and Native American communities. Place-based learning communities immerse students in the cultural, political, social, natural aspects of "place", including the local community or natural environment, providing a more holistic and hands-on approach to education.  The place-based learning communities incorporate four integrated activities into the curriculum:  a summer immersion experience, a STEM-based first-year seminar, STEM peer mentors, and linked gateway courses.  The Klamath Connection, a pilot program for place-based learning communities, introduces freshman to the most popular science majors through a focus on the Klamath River, while integrating activities to help students recognize the relationships between science, engineering, the natural environment, and local Native American tribes.  The activities and curriculum culminate in a cohort of students working alongside faculty and staff to understand the Klamath experience together. Please join us as the College of Forestry welcomes Dr. Matt Johnson, a project director for the HHMI Inclusive Excellence program at Humboldt State University, to learn more about opportunities to close equity gaps in first-year STEM students.


Dr. Matt Johnson is a professor in the Wildlife Department at Humboldt State University.  His research interests lie in wildlife habitat selection and habitat quality, and he's currently focused on studying how agricultural production and bird conservation can coexist.  He has worked on the habitat ecology of insect-eating birds in coffee farms for many years, and in 2015 he started working with barn owls and wine grape producers in California.  Most recently, his educational work has involved collaborating to launch 'place-based learning communities' for first-year STEM students that have helped advance inclusive student success.

Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 11:00am to 12:00pm

Richardson Hall, Room 107
3180 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331