The choice of disciplines in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (College or CALS) at North Carolina State University (University or NCSU) is extensive. The College has 430 faculty members in 21 departments involved in teaching, research, and extension. Our academic programs cover the full range of higher education degree options—from associate’s programs in the Agricultural Institute to bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in biology-based disciplines, agriculture, and the environmental sciences. Degree programs in the life sciences include biology, biochemistry, microbiology, genetics, biological engineering, and many others. There are 40-degree tracks leading to the Bachelor of Science degree and over 30 graduate degree programs offering numerous choices for students to fulfill their career goals. If we just examine undergraduate studies, it is evident that our life science undergraduate degree programs provide a solid foundation for students pursuing graduate school in medicine, dentistry, optometry, or veterinary medicine. Degree programs in the agricultural and environmental sciences include animal science, soil science, crop science, horticultural sciences, poultry science, and several others. These programs provide students with academic preparation that makes them competitive for graduate school as well as employment opportunities in research, industry, government, or service.
The state of North Carolina has a substantial rural population and depends on various aspects of agriculture and is home to many agriculture and food system related industries. For example, the poultry industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the state of North Carolina, and it seeks graduates of our programs to fill professional and managerial positions. However, many students from underrepresented groups are not aware of these various disciplines within the agricultural, environmental and life sciences. Our College, like most other STEM related colleges, is not sufficiently reaching untapped underrepresented groups. "More minority students must be recruited into agriculture careers in order to sustain the agricultural industry for the future and to help ensure that the U.S. remains competitive in the global economy” (Jones & Larke, 2003). Therefore, a concentrated focus on recruiting and retaining the untapped resource of students from underrepresented groups is essential.
The College, under the leadership of the Office of Diversity Affairs and the CALS Diversity Council, has developed new, innovative programs to recruit and retain students from underrepresented groups.
Furman, T., Gardella, J.A., Pagni, D.L., Puri, A. Schrader, C.B. and Tucker, S.A. (2006). Mentoring for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Workforce Development and Lifelong Productivity. National Science Foundation Report, Washington, DC.
Jones, W.A. and Larke, A.J. (2003). Factors influencing career choice of ethnic minorities in agriculture. NACTA Journal.