ICON Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Key Points - Draft

The comment period is over. The new draft informed by open comments will be posted by November 30th.  

ICON Key Points
  • Welcoming and integrating systemically non-dominant people into the geosciences
  • Connecting the geosciences to urban thinkers
  • Teaching geoscience with historical context (e.g., colonization and resource exploration)
  • Geoscience departments need to emphasize DEI issues specifically rather than solely relying on university or college-wide policies
  • Geoscience curricula need to decolonize course content and teaching practices
  • Lowering the cost of accessing geoscience content and practice (e.g., journal articles, conferences, technology, teaching and learning resources)
  • Encouraging the geoscience community to make content freely available on the web (e.g., open source codes)
  • Promoting altruistic career options in the geosciences
  • Moving the geoscience community to thinking about people first, before considering potential scientific advancements (e.g., respecting tribal sovereignty)
  • Environmental justice education: Faculty literacy and comfort teaching racism, earth-human issues, and support students with the skills and habits they need for community responsive work. Networking will be really important to build.  


Open access: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are part of Open Science, we all know Open Access for journal articles but it is not all. Science needs to be accessible at large, in, the content, the language... Accessibility is still a major issue for deaf people, colorblind... One of my article that can be useful https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02823-2

Accommodations: FAIR often uses 'accessible' to mean free online or free software - but not necessarily accessible as in disability accessibility. This is a topic I research extensively. For example, just shared findings as Metascience2021 on how "open access" journals do not include disability accessibility or UDL elements in their publishing requirements from a study I just completed. This is also something I've written on for NEON-enabled science and ideas of accessibility as a requirement for building truly open networked science. I've also published on this previously, e.g.: Richelle L. Tanner, Neena Grover, Michelle L Anderson, Katherine C Crocker, Shuchismita Dutta, Angela M Horner, Loren E Hough, Talia Y Moore, Gail L Rosen, Kaitlin Stack Whitney, Adam P Summers. 2021. Examining cultural structures and functions in biology. Integrative and Comparative Biology, icab140, https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icab140 Simon J Goring#, Kaitlin Stack Whitney#, and Aerin L Jacob. 2018. Accessibility is imperative for inclusion. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 16 (2) 63-63. Lauer, A., W. Gram, A. Crall, C. Diaz Eaton, R. Haacker, E. Jack-Scott, A. Pendergrass, and K. Stack Whitney 2020. Scientific meetings for all. Eos Volume 101, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020EO138951. Is accessibility part of "open" science? - Practical Data Management for Bug Counters blog  Building access into open - writing image description templates into our code annotations - Practical Data Management for Bug Counters blog    Open Science Isn't Open to All Scientists - American Scientist  https://www.americanscientist.org/article/open-science-isnt-always-open-to-all-scientists

Financial constraints: The frequent expectation of travel (field work costs, travel to lab work at other facilities, conferences) for geosciences students puts a particular strain on those with greater financial insecurity. This can particularly affect first generation students (and often other URM) that may be unaware of these financial expectations.

ICON approaches: ICON approaches to research (or teaching resources) makes accessing data, participating in research, building collaborative networks, etc. more accessible regardless of institutional resources.

Emphasizing Fulfilling Career Paths  
Proactive communication: A recent article (Carter et al, 2021--https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-021-00287-4) highlights the need for geosciences programs to understand that the appeal of outdoor opportunities may not be a motivating factor for URM students to choose the geosciences. They are more inclined to pursue options that provide them with a more altruistic career path. Geosciences programs need to rethink how they advertise their programs so that they appeal to URM motivations.

Departmental Policies
We need to highlight on the need for department-wide policies that emphasize on DEI issues specifically related to the Earth and Space sciences rather than falling on institution/university-wide policies that may not be applicable to the department. This should include policies related to departmental recruitment, retention, and support for historically minoritized people. See Ormand et al. (2021)

Decolonizing Course Content
Explicit instruction: We need to look at ways to decolonize course content and teaching practices to be more inclusive. This can be done by including DEI practices in our lessons such as dedicating some of our course goals/objectives to JEDI issues and using history and stories to teach students about nature of geoscience issues regarding JEDI.

Nature of science: Raise awareness of links between Science Education and historical context:  https://geo-context.github.io

Understanding of colonization and tribal sovereignty: The discipline of geology grew out of colonial exploration for resources and the discipline continues to be connected to the ongoing project of Indigenous land dispossession and colonization. In order to work towards justice in our field, we need to include a critical history of geology and colonialism in our earth science curriculum. We need to teach the next generation of geoscientists about this history and how to respect tribal sovereignty in order to stop current harms, begin redressing past harms, and build respectful collaborations with Indigenous Nations that support their self-determination and sovereignty. See our example here: https://eos.org/science-updates/recognizing-geologys-colonial-history-for-better-policy-today

DEI Intervention Research
Expansion of research areas: DEI teaching and learning interventions in Earth and Space science mostly focus on physical disabilities and socioeconomic backgrounds. These should be expanded to focus on other aspects of the DEI spectrum that includes gender, cognitive disabilities, race and ethnicity, orientation and sexual preferences.

2Yr college undergraduate research connections: About half of all undergraduate students are community college students, and community college populations are represented by large URM populations, females, first generation students, and Pell eligible students. Opportunities for undergraduate research within community colleges or paired with 4Yr colleges can better prepare students for transfer and/or the workforce and increase persistence in STEM. Many resources can be found here: https://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/studentresearch/refs.html

Focus on urban thinkers: See my commentary in JGE about making science relevant to urban thinkers. The basic idea is that student from urban environments (which are more likely to be underrepresented ethnicities in the Earth sciences) may not have the same background experience in the natural world. We therefore need to create bridges between familiar processes that occur the familiar urban setting and natural processes that dominate cutting-edge questions in geoscience.    d'Alessio, M. A. (2012). Schoolyard geology as a bridge between urban thinkers and the natural world. Journal of Geoscience Education, 60(2), 106-113.

DEIJ Terminology
Language changes: I suggest we use the opportunity here to encourage the geoscience community to use the term "systemically non-dominant" from Dr. Debi Jenkins (https://www.clarkcollegefoundation.org/oppressive-systems/) instead of "minority" or "underrepresented." SND specifically points to systemic factors that contribute to the lack of DEIJ.    A group of us used the SND terminology to frame the lack of diversity within the geosciences in a recent commentary in the Journal of Geoscience Education (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10899995.2021.1881863). I'm not sure if the ideas presented in our commentary about intergroup emotions are relevant to the ICON framework, but perhaps you all have thoughts?

I think we need (as a community) to advocate for the fluidity of language and a willingness to respond to changes in what is acceptable. for example, the idea of "Underrepresented Minorities" as measure of diversity has long been established in the literature, and yet more recent calls, particularly from minorities individuals has been asking for a change in language. For example, "URM is degrading and dehumanizing to the communities it describes" (Bensimon, 2016): https://cue.usc.edu/files/2016/01/Bensimon_The-Misbegotten-URM-as-a-Data-Point.pdf

Environmental Justice and Sustainability
Environmental justice education should grow through ICON strategies to support DEIJ for students and communities.  We need to apply the strategies that have grown other educator communities (2YC, sustainability, climate change) to building and supporting EJ practices.  This will cobuild faculty literacy and comfort teaching racism, earth-human issues, and support students with the skills and habits they need for community responsive work. Networks will be really important to build, not just networks that link scientists and communities (e.g. citizen science) but those that help existing instructors do better/more inclusive work.

UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): The SDGs contain a wide range of JEDI-aligned goals and strategies - a useful lens to explore and advance JEDI in Earth and Space Science Education in different cultural and national contexts.  https://sdgs.un.org/goals

Key Topics: Accessibility, Career pathways, Policies, Inclusive instruction, Research, Conceptual framework/definition, Environmental justice