Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in the Earth and Environmental Sciences

Knowledge of Earth's natural systems is crucial for resource management, climate change mitigation, and understanding other human-environment interactions. In both academia and industry, there are opportunities for Earth scientists to work in rugged outdoor settings, to work in the laboratory, to develop strong computational and quantitative skills, and to study the intersection of the physical and social sciences.

Despite these varied opportunities and sub-disciplines, the Earth and environmental sciences are among the least diverse STEM fields, and academia more broadly has a long way to go in terms of diversity and inclusion. Bias and exclusion based on race and ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, and physical ability (to name a few) hinder our ability to make academia, STEM, and Earth and environmental science more inclusive to all people . In order to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in our communities, we require large-scale, tangible, and structural changes. Experts on these topics have published a wide range of literature documenting these issues and suggesting concrete paths toward improvement (see list below for examples).

While at NAU, I co-chaired my department's Diversity & Inclusion committee, and learned a lot about both the importance of DEI work, as well as the challenges of making lasting change in an academic department. Some of my experiences include:

  1. drafting the department's statement on DEI, which guides current and future policy changes, and serves as a public-facing reminder of our goals;

  2. drafting the department's code of conduct (in progress with the NAU legal team), which includes resources for reporting misconduct and seeking support, as well as guidelines and policies pertinent to conduct (including in the field);

  3. leading the department's pod for the program Unlearning Racism in Geoscience (URGE), where participants drafted anti-racist policies and suggestions (feel free to browse our documents here); and

  4. compiling data on diversity among our graduate student populations and seminar speakers, to set a baseline against which to compare future changes.

  5. mentoring students through the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, the Geoscience Education & Mentoring Support program, and the Women in Science & Engineering program.

I am also particularly interested in:

  1. creating field experiences that are accessible to all students, and critically considering the role of field geology in geoscience education;

  2. incorporation of multi-cultural perspectives in courses and seminars, and inclusive teaching practices more broadly;

I am committed to continuing this work in my future positions, and am always happy to chat about this topic. We need all hands on deck!

Below I have listed some of the literature and other resources that informs my understanding of DEI in academia, STEM, and the Earth & environmental Sciences. There are also much more comprehensive lists of resources that are community-sourced and/or compiled by experts, including this compilation by URGE and this one by GeoReading for Equity.

Published articles

“Ten simple rules for building an anti-racist lab.” (link)

“Hostile climates are barriers to diversifying the geosciences.” (link)

“No progress on diversity in 40 years.” (link)

“Does our vision of diversity reduce harm and promote justice?” (link)

"Race and racism in the geosciences." (link)

"Structure matters: twenty-one teaching strategies to promote student engagement and cultivate classroom equity." (link)

"A synthesis of instructional strategies in geoscience education literature that address barriers to inclusion for students with disabilities." (link)

"Survey of academic field experiences (SAFE): Trainees report harassment and assault." (link)

"Gender differences in recommendation letters for postdoctoral fellowships in geoscience." (link)

"Language matters: considering microaggressions in science." (link)

"Long-term reduction in implicit race bias: a prejudice habit-breaking intervention." (link)

"Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color." (link)

"The challenges of field work for LGBTQ+ geoscientists." (link)

Other resources

Implicit Bias Tests (Project Implicit). (link)

Picture a Scientist, a documentary about sexual harassment, and other forms of bias and discrimination, in academic STEM institutions. (link)

ADVANCEGeo for many resources and workshops. (link)

Some excellent compilations of resources for field work by Emerson Lynch (link) and getting field gear on a budget by Julia Cisneros (link).