University of Central Florida is the lead university of the Community Geography and GIS REU Site. UCF is a Carnegie Foundation “very high research activity” university, is the nation’s second largest public institution with over 62,000 students, and prides itself on being “America’s Partnership University.” The REU Site aligns with UCF’s key goals, including offering the best undergraduate experiences in Florida; providing international focus in its programs; and achieving diversity and inclusivity in all educational programs. UCF’s DirectConnect Program offers an innovative national model for undergraduate education guaranteeing admission for students in 2 year colleges and community colleges around Florida. The program’s goal is to provide opportunities for low-income and/or first generation students to achieve success at the undergraduate level.
Georgia State University, as a partnering institution, is well positioned to broaden STEM participation of underrepresented groups given its status as a Predominantly Black Institution and a Title III and Title V programs-designated institution under the Higher Education Opportunity Act. GSU, with over 52,000 students, ranks first in the U.S. among institutions in awarding bachelor’s degrees to African-Americans
The Smithsonian Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystems Program (CCRE) is a long term field site based on Carrie Bow Caye, Belize, dedicated to investigations of coral reefs and mangroves, seagrass meadows, and other habitats. CCRE will provide students with opportunities to discuss the greater scientific context of their work and see how the work benefits Belize. In Weeks 3 and 5 on Carrie Bow Caye, Smithsonian scientists will host a collaborative progress report and lunch discussion. Such day trips will allow students to present/discuss project findings to date, get useful feedback from Smithsonian scientists, and learn about additional Smithsonian research projects. CCRE will also aide in: 1) student recruitment sending emails to scientists in their network; 2) dissemination by sharing the online mapping platform on their site and social media; and 3) discussions with students about future research directions and career opportunities.
University of Belize (UB) is the only national, autonomous university in Belize. The goals and values of community geography and GIS partnerships are aligned with UB goals as the university hopes to contribute to “fostering Belize’s development by producing graduates who are socially and ecologically responsible, analytical, self-confident, disciplined, ethical, entrepreneurial, and skilled communicators and who are committed to using these skills and values for Belize’s enrichment.” UB strives to encourage sustainable development to benefit the people of Belize while increasing self-sustainability and meeting global challenges. UB collaborators will facilitate REU student interaction with members of the National Spatial Data Committee to discuss the role of GIS in national development needs.