Causeway Postbaccalaureate Program

Project: Research project

Project Details


Overview: We propose the Causeway Postbaccalaureate Program, a 12-month experience in mathematics for underrepresented minorities (URMs), designed to prepare these students for graduate study in the mathematical sciences. Causeway will provide foundational coursework, research advising, and career mentoring in the context of a strong and supportive community of participants. Causeway students will form a cohort with common courses, while specializing through tracks in pure math, applied math and statistics; they will receive tuition and a living stipend. We aim to increase the number of American URMs doctoral students in mathematical disciplines. Each of the co-PIs has extensive, successful experience in teaching URMs and a deep commitment to diversifying the mathematics profession. Intellectual Merit: Causeway will be scalable, sustainable, and replicable. Underlying Causeway are three hypotheses which, if true, would inform "best practices'' for other institutions, even in fields beyond mathematics. These testable hypotheses are: * a sizable cohort increases the likelihood of successful graduate study for participants * a supportive community fosters a sense of identity and inclusion for URMs in STEM * a broad consortium of supporting institutions can sustain a program beyond its initial period of NSF funding The control group for the sizable-cohort hypothesis is the population of students in traditional pathways to graduate study in mathematical sciences. Placement of Causeway students in graduate programs will be our primary measure of success. Assistant Professor Onnie Rogers in Northwestern's Department of Psychology will track students' progress and their changes in identity througout the program using in-depth qualitative interviews. Over the three years of the proposed grant, we intend to gather sufficient data for analysis, and we will track the progress of Causeway participants beyond the program. The dissemination of mathematics to educationally underserved communities is itself intellectually meritorious. The co-PIs are award-winning teachers and researchers at a Tier-1 university: the core curricular content of the Causeway program will be rich with serious mathematics. Broader Impacts: The potential impact of Causeway is significant. Even a small increase in the population of URM graduate students will "move the needle'' on the vexing problem of racial and ethnic imbalances in the mathematics profession. A sustainable program will have long-term impact, and we have taken great pains to ensure sustainability by building a broad consortium of partners and affiliates. Among these are Northwestern's Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA), Communidad Latinex (CLX), several colleges and universities (including Howard University), and several academic divisions and departments at Northwestern. Letters of Collaboration from these organizations are included. Causeway's two-way mentoring system will extend the program's impact beyond its participants. While Causeway participants will receive peer mentoring from members of BGSA and CLX, and will receive faculty mentoring from their advisers, they themselves will mentor URM students at Evanston Township High School, encouraging younger students to consider careers in the mathematical sciences. This structure embeds outreach and self-support into the very foundation of Causeway.
Effective start/end date9/1/198/31/23


  • National Science Foundation (DMS-1916410)


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