The reality of underrepresentation of various ethnicities in particular fields, whether it is biology or linguistics, is an effective way of framing diversity issues. But outside of its sociological ramifications, making any field more-representative has the added bonus of funneling more people and building more expertise in those fields, and expanding the volume of expertise is an important indirect benefit.
This is not to downplay the importance of diversity itself, which is considerable; it is crucial for kids to see others like themselves enjoying prominence and success in every field and occupation - it's how we create aspirations and ambition. But it appears that the National Science Foundation is on to at least two tracks of potential benefits with the Diversity Climate Network:
Faced with a number of growing challenges in the recruitment and retention of students to the geosciences and climate sciences, a group of professors at the University of Vermont ( UVM), the University of California-Los Angeles ( UCLA) and the University of Georgia (UGA) recognized the need to increase students' exposure to these disciplines. This is important in ensuring these science fields are appreciated as offering truly viable career options. The problem they are dealing with is not limited to one particular geopgraphic area; it spans both metropolitan and rural areas.
UGA and the Franklin College are honored to be part of this effort, and particularly to support the participation of faculty members, Marshall Shepherd and Tom Mote (and UGA doctoral student Marcus Williams). Our faculty continues to demonstrate sharp intuition on many levels and this is a prime example of thinking within and outside of a given field at the same time. This network of scientists and students proves broader educational and employment issues can and must be connected to specific fields like climatology. It is indeed one thing to decry U.S. students' lagging performance in math and science, but wholly another to create a pipeline from the high school to graduate degree levels in the climate sciences.