(CLOSED) NSF 20-516 LOI Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Pathways into the Earth, Ocean, Polar and Atmospheric & Geospace Sciences (IUSE:GEOPAths)

Sponsor Name: 
Description of the Award: 

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):

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

An organization may serve as sole submitting organization or as lead organization of a collaborative project on only one submission per competition, regardless of track, but may serve as the non-lead organization of a collaborative project more than once per competition. Additional eligibility requirements are described later in the solicitation.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI:

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.

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Limit (Number of applicants permitted per institution): 
Sponsor LOI Deadline: 
Nov 17, 2020
Sponsor Final Deadline: 
Jan 26, 2021
OVPR Application or NOI Instructions: 

Interested applicants should send the following documents in sequence in one PDF file (File name: Last name_NSF 20-516) no later than 4:00 p.m. on the internal submission deadline:

Cover Page:

  • Principal Investigator’s (PI's) names and departmental affiliation
  • Co-PI's names and departmental affiliation(s)
  • A list of possible participating organizations (if applicable)
  • Proposal Title
  • Track

Project Description (no more than two pages)

  • Identify the project scope that addresses the key aspects and elements outlined in the NSF solicitation, principal investigators, collaborators, and partner organizations.

2-page current NSF Bio-sketch for all PIs and Co-PIs.

Formatting Guidelines:

  • Font/size: Times New Roman (12 pt.)
  • Document margins: 1.0” (top, bottom, left and right)
  • Standard paper size (8 ½” x 11)
To be considered as a Penn State institutional nominee, please submit a notice of intent by the date provided directly below.
This limited submission is in downselect: 
Penn State may only submit a specific number of proposals to this funding opportunity. The number of NOIs received require that an internal competition take place, thus, a downselect process has commenced. No Penn State researchers may apply to this opportunity outside of this downselect process. To apply for this limited submission, please use this link:
OVPR Downselect Deadline: 
Wednesday, November 11, 2020 - 4:00pm
Gregory Jenkins (Earth and Mineral Sciences)