Increasing the Black Presence in the Environmental Sciences

Black students are vastly underrepresented in fields such as mathematics, the natural sciences, computer science, and engineering. But one field where blacks are even more scarce is environmental science. Data on bachelor’s degree recipients show that there is one black student among every 200 graduates in the field. In a number of fields involving environmental sciences, in most years there are no Ph.D. awards to blacks.

But one historically black university is mounting a major effort to increase the number of black students in the field. Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, operates the International Center for Water Resources Management. About 55 black students are enrolled in its water resource management degree program. The center, with its highly sophisticated hydrology and hydraulics laboratories, participates in several federally funded research projects. These federal funds have permitted the center to keep operating despite a reduction in state funds due to the financial problems that have plagued Central State in recent years.

Copyright © 2006. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. All rights reserved.