The Ohio State Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center condemns not only police brutality, racism, intolerance, and divisiveness, but also complicity in a system that has failed to allow equal achievement and access to geoscience careers. We recognize that police brutality and systemic injustices against Black and brown individuals and communities in this country are horrific, yet sadly common. Our country’s high ideals of liberty and justice for all have been checkered by genocide, slavery, and discrimination. As in the past, great tension has been necessary for us to confront the reality of our circumstances.
Black Lives Matter.
Communities with social and economic disenfranchisement are affected by higher rates of crime, greater food insecurity, and lower access to quality healthcare and affordable housing than those with privilege and wealth. We know historically that Black, indigenous and people of color and low-income populations suffer from greater exposure to chronic stresses stemming from discrimination, acculturative pressure, and unequal exposure to environmental pollution. The emerging impacts of climate change exacerbate these social and economic disparities and patterns of vulnerability. A climate-resilient society needs to ensure protections for all members.
The lack of diversity in geosciences is appalling. The geoscience workforce is not representative of the US population and will not be equipped to address climate change impacts in a just manner without including the expertise of Black, indigenous, and people of color. Without prioritizing diverse participation, we are hindered in bringing new perspectives, ideas, and approaches to our research, limiting our discoveries and adding bias to our conclusions. Pathways that foster interest in science, and that may lead to geoscience careers, begin at a young age, but access to these pathways is not equitable for minorities. We must cultivate additional opportunities for these groups to enter geosciences and to nurture those currently in this historically unaccommodating field.
We recognize that we have our own progress to make. To honor the movement for Black lives and our mission to foster a collaborative, interdisciplinary, and inclusive community, we will take the following actions.
We will continue to...
- Advise leadership at the state, regional, and local levels about injustices toward people of color and the communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
- Ensure that the broader impacts that are part of our federal research grants specifically focus on underserved populations, including Black, indigenous, and people of color.
- Encourage science and engineering to diverse K-12 youth through our public programs, including tours, speakers, activities, and media.
Within 6 months we will…
- Establish a Diversity and Inclusion Committee to ensure the Center’s vision, strategies, and operations support the actions listed in this statement, drawing on resources provided by Ohio State’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion. One member of this committee will serve on the Byrd Center Executive Committee.
- Work with the Office of Human Resources to incorporate effective interviewing practices and equitable weighing of experience to ensure recruitment, hiring, and promotion of people of color and ethnic minority candidates for research, staff, and student positions.
- Facilitate center-wide dialogue about social justice and reform in America and offer annual diversity training to members.
- Work with appropriate partners to measure and improve the effectiveness of our outreach to people of color and ethnic minority groups.
- Encourage center members to showcase research from Black, indigenous and people of color in classes and seminars.
- Include a Land Acknowledgement in advance of seminars and public programs.1
Within 1 year we will...
- Establish a fund to recruit and support students from underrepresented groups participating in Byrd Center research
- Work with other Ohio State units and off-campus partners to establish a pathways program for paid summer internships, with mentoring, as an on ramp for underrepresented youth in science.
- Include research on climate and environmental justice within our strategic plan.
- Support efforts by the Ohio State Office of Research and other university partners to recruit underrepresented scientists.
In addition, the Byrd Center will extend its efforts to include other marginalized groups, including those based on sex, sexual orientation, disability and veteran status.
1. Example Land Acknowledgment text: “We acknowledge that the land we are meeting on today has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, specifically the Shawnee, Miami, Wyandot and Delaware Nations. We honor and respect the diverse Indigenous peoples connected to this territory on which we gather.” OSU Office of Student Life, http://mcc.osu.edu/resources/american-indian-indigenous/