Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion


Call to Action

“To elevate geosciences in diverse communities… create a welcoming community for all” — Statement of Purpose, Science and Society Section

AGU Science and Society (SY) section leadership strongly echo the sentiments of the AGU endorsed Call to Action: “Scientists should... act out against racism and police violence as a matter of basic humanity.” Going forward, we commit to explicitly building an anti-racist science community. We urge all Fall Meeting conveners to thoughtfully plan on integrating justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) into your sessions. Please use the JEDI Guide below.

Fall 2020 SY Social Science Session

JEDI Guide for Session Conveners

We, the Science and Society Executive Committee, strongly encourage session conveners to proactively promote justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) during the AGU Meeting, particularly at three times: (A) when inviting presenters, (B) when selecting oral and poster abstracts, and (C) when planning the session agenda. Based on "Inclusive Scientific Meetings: Where to Start" by Pendergrass et al 2019 (original guide) and Jack-Scott et al 2023 (updated guide), we strongly suggest committing to the JEDI actions below with your planning team.

(A) June-July: When inviting presenters

  1. Commit to inviting diverse speakers, considering career stage, race, ethnicity, geography, primary language, gender identity, disability, etc.
  2. Schedule extra time to plan for and identify speakers, including meetings with potential invitees to explain the benefits. If unfamiliar with AGU, share this FAQ.
  3. Push yourself to look outside your immediate network. Consider people whose work you may have limited familiarity with.
  4. Identify missing voices and perspectives in the field.
  5. Contact different institutions (e.g., community colleges, Minority-Serving Institutions, disciplinary associations, think tanks).
    Include contributions beyond academia, such as public engagement, policymaking, mentoring, advancement of inclusivity, etc. 

(B) July-Aug: When selecting abstracts

  1. Develop evaluation criteria before reviewing abstracts for both oral and poster sessions.
  2. Include JEDI metrics in the evaluation criteria, e.g., social impact, community engagement, novel perspectives or approaches, advancing equity and justice, etc.
  3. Have more than one session convener evaluate the abstracts.
  4. Conduct a blind first-round evaluation without looking at abstract names and organizations, followed by a second round with JEDI considerations.
  5. Reflect on your own implicit biases.
  6. Evaluate whether the final list of presenters (for both oral and poster sessions) represent different voices and perspectives including (but not limited to) career stage, race, ethnicity, geography, gender, and other axes of identity.

(C) Aug-Dec: When planning the session agenda

(see also pp. 10-11 Pendergrass et al 2019 and pp 31-43 of Jack-Scott et al 2023)

  1. Review AGU’s detailed resources on chairing and convening sessions
    The AGU meeting website provides detailed resources on how to appropriately convene oral, poster and e-lightning sessions either online or in-person. You can also view the recording of a training session on how to be a successful session convenor in the "Online Program and Resources" section of your AGU User Portal (log in required).

  2. Reach out to presenters ahead of the session with key deadlines and details
    Navigating the AGU meeting can be difficult particularly for first time attendees. Emailing presenters a few weeks ahead of the session can help build early rapport with participants, and makes the AGU experience more welcoming. Your introductory email can include pertinent details such as the time and venue of the session, key deadlines (such as for uploading presentations, etc.), and a link to AGU’s detailed guideline resources for presenters. You can also encourage participants to reach out to convenors directly with any specific questions or requests.

  3. Budget time for an introduction and a discussion/Q&A during the session
    If possible, allow time for a quick introduction to the session and its goals, land and labor acknowledgements, as well as time for Q&A or a group discussion at the end of the session. This would provide an opportunity for the audience engagement as well as for presenters & convenors to engage in critical JEDI related discussions.

  4. Consider posing JEDI related questions or discussion topics for the session
    Allowing a platform for the presenters and audience to discuss JEDI considerations can be valuable. See some potential questions in the following section titled, "JEDI questions to consider for your session."

  5. Consider your own implicit biases when facilitating discussions or Q&A
    Who are you focusing on? Are you leaving out unfamiliar or younger attendees, people whose names you cannot pronounce?

  6. Evaluate JEDI representation amongst presenters and audience members
    Are there key groups that we are missing out on? How can we improve representation in the session presenters and audience for the next year?

JEDI questions to consider for your session

  1. Can you tell us about who is conducting the research, who the research is being shared with, which populations or geographies you are working with (or working in), etc.? How does (or could) your research or work intersect with JEDI considerations?

  2. What communities are impacted by, or potentially involved in, this work? Are there related issues or opportunities for JEDI considerations?

  3. Are there some types of JEDI relevant data, literature or experiences that may be relevant to your work, and you are drawing (or could potentially draw) from?

  4. Do you face any challenges in including JEDI considerations (such as working with social vulnerability data or engaging with historically marginalized communities) within geosciences?

  5. In your opinion, how can geoscientists (as individuals, as institutions, and as a community) do better in terms of integrating JEDI considerations into our work and practices?

  6. Do learnings on JEDI from one place translate to other geographical contexts? When, where, and how? Are there different perspectives on JEDI issues that we should consider as we move across countries or other geographical or cultural borders? How can we learn across regions and cultures on JEDI issues?

JEDI Reflections

Photo by Andrew Ly (unsplash)

JEDI Reflections at the AGU Fall Meetings

by Kripa Jagannathan, Christopher Hyun, Anna Wilson, Jeanne Fernandez, Julie Vano, Kate Semmens, Kristen St John, Lindsey Middleton, Ryan Meyer, Thushara Gunda, Vincent Tong

The Science and Society Section, with support from AGU members from Hydrology and Education sections, piloted a “JEDI note-taking” activity at the AGU Fall Meeting held in December 2021 (in a hybrid: in-person + virtual format). The main goal of this effort was to encourage active reflection and conversations about JEDI issues in the AGU community, and gather insights into the question: What are the various ways that AGU's members and presenters currently engage in JEDI issues? How can we improve and move forward?

Ten AGU members undertook two tasks; (1) they asked a JEDI related question in a Fall meeting session that they attended, and (2) they summarized their reflections on the ways in which JEDI issues were discussed (or not) in the session using a semi-structured note-taking template. The captured observations highlighted many examples of JEDI-relevant efforts being undertaken in the AGU community. Below, we synthesize these notes organized around key questions related to JEDI considerations in the geosciences.

  1. How diverse, equitable and inclusive is the AGU community
  2. Does the Fall Meeting format allow for effective JEDI-related discussions?
  3. Are geoscientists and geoscience agencies building institutional mechanisms/frameworks that systemically address JEDI issues?
  4. To what extent are geoscientists engaging with different communities in their work?
  5. Are geoscientists using data, methods, tools, literature, or approaches that are specifically developed to study JEDI issues?
  6. Who benefits (or is harmed) by the work that geoscientists do?

How diverse, equitable and inclusive is the AGU community?

Our note-takers highlighted that the 2021 Fall Meeting presented an opportunity to observe who the AGU community consists of, and called for more active reflections and acknowledgement on the diversity (or lack thereof) of our members, presenters, session convenors and overall session attendees. While they acknowledged that a visual observation was insufficient to ascertain who was in the room, and whose voices were missing, the note-takers acknowledged the need to reflect on how diverse the session participation was.

Does the Fall Meeting format allow for effective JEDI-related discussions?

The activity also highlighted the need to assess whether and to what extent the Fall Meeting format allowed for conversations on JEDI-related issues. Some note-takers suggested that when sessions included discussion time, it allowed for presenters and audience to reflect on and discuss broader issues related to the impact of geosciences work. While recognising that the hybrid format was a new learning experience for AGU, some note-takes also highlighted that some of the technical issues with maneuvering the complicated hybrid format could have exacerbated existing inclusivity issues. Overall, there were suggestions that there is room for improvement in actively encouraging sessions to allow for broader discussions beyond just presentations.

Are geoscientists and geoscience agencies building institutional mechanisms/frameworks that systemically address JEDI issues?

The 2021 Fall Meeting highlighted many burgeoning institutional efforts being undertaken by the AGU community to address JEDI issues. These included several efforts to develop anti-racist and JEDI curricula and training, as well as specific programs to increase diversity in geosciences by removing barriers to participation in geosciences. However, challenges were not absent. For example, our note-takers noted that the presenters would often bring up the lack of funding for long-term sustainability and scaling-up of these efforts.

To what extent are geoscientists engaging with different communities in their work?

One of the most prominent ways in which AGU scientists engaged in JEDI issues was through working with different communities as part of their science, research, practice or art. Direct engagement with communities that may impact or might be impacted by geosciences was seen as extremely valuable. Fall Meeting presenters shared many examples of geoscientists actively collaborating and co-creating knowledge with local communities, decision-makers, traditional knowledge holders, etc. Yet it was also noted that there are still barriers to appropriately and effectively engaging different communities especially those traditionally marginalized.

Are geoscientists using data, methods, tools, literature, or approaches that are specifically developed to study JEDI issues?

Some JEDI relevant approaches highlighted by presenters during their Fall Meeting sessions included integrating indigenous and traditional ecological knowledge (ITEK) into geosciences, forming equitable research-practice partnerships with communities, and using service learning approaches. Within quantitative-oriented sessions, there was increased emphasis on social vulnerability data or indices, and approaches such as participatory modeling. Other JEDI-related concepts and approaches that were mentioned include place- and culture- based geoscience practices, and also using art to make science equitable. Few note-takers reported discussions on framings such as anti-colonial or feminist approaches or practices, and also highlighted that there was room for improvement in further highlighting such approaches in geosciences.

Who benefits (or is harmed) by the work that geoscientists do?

The note-takers also highlighted discussions on the role of geoscientists and AGU in understanding where funding and research need to be focused, in order to benefit the most marginalized and those historically impacted. For example, perspectives and responsibilities related to ‘loss and damage’ in climate funding came up in some sessions, while in others the more philosophical question of “What is the role of science in society” was also brought up. As one of the session presenters stated; “Science can and should help drive equity and justice” but “Science can also amplify injustices and drive equitable solutions.”

Overall thoughts

The six questions that we extracted from the synthesis of the JEDI notes reiterated the embeddedness of the geosciences within society and the social structures around us. Our reflections on how JEDI considerations are discussed (or not) within AGU also highlight how we as geoscientists are maneuvering ourselves as a community within the social process with which our work and our institutions intersect. This simple effort of actively and intentionally reflecting on JEDI within each session and asking a JEDI-related question, allowed for conversations that do not otherwise happen naturally in all AGU sessions and highlighted the challenges in fostering JEDI attention and discussion. We believe that creating platforms that allow for JEDI discussions to happen in many AGU sessions (and not only in specific JEDI-focussed sessions) will help to better integrate these practices into overall geosciences work (rather than seeing it as a separate activity). Towards this intent, we have devised a simple JEDI questionnaire for the Fall Meeting 2022, that we hope can be more broadly used by the AGU community to reflect on JEDI-related issues in their sessions. We believe that such a reflection would be an important zero-order step for deeper discussions and furthering our commitment to JEDI values at AGU.

Calling on AGU members to help us broaden JEDI reflections at the Fall Meeting 2022

If you are convening or chairing a session or are an audience member attending an AGU session, please help us encourage JEDI reflections and conversations by (1) asking a JEDI-related question in the session (see "JEDI Ideas" below for a few examples) and (2) filling out this simple questionnaire on your reflections (see QR code and link above).