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Being the "Change" in Global Change Science: Promoting a Culture of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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Session Description: 

Global environmental change is perhaps the toughest challenge facing society today - it threatens the environment, human health, and natural resources. Its effects are far-reaching and will be felt across communities, but some groups, including women, underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and low-income populations, are especially vulnerable because they are economically disadvantaged, politically marginalized, and have access to fewer resources for adaptation. These same groups are also underrepresented in science and in decision-making surrounding global change policies.

Global change scientists are at the frontline of socially relevant work on energy, climate, water, and food security; however, the earth and environmental science workforce is one of the least-diverse in STEM fields. For example, women make up less than 16 percent of the geoscience workforce and only 20 percent of geoscience faculty. In order to do the best and most relevant global change science and apply this knowledge in the communities that need it most, science must reflect the diversity of society. Broadening the scientific workforce can have cascading effects, fostering new perspectives and policy solutions to address global challenges. Furthermore, it is an ethical responsibility to include the perspectives and experiences of the most vulnerable communities in the process of developing and applying solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

One opportunity to better integrate diversity, equity, and inclusion into global change science is at scientific conferences and workshops. These meetings are historically not representative of greater society, nor do the research agendas they produce necessarily reflect the priorities of impact audiences. Since opportunities for research collaborations and to publish scientific papers frequently arise from professional conferences, lack of representation at conferences is in turn compounded, further excluding underrepresented communities.

This weekend-long workshop, co-organized by the Aspen Global Change Institute (AGCI), 500 Women Scientists, and the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN), will identify best practices for organizing and leading meetings in global change science that are diverse and inclusive, and develop a prototype intervention and assessment for future AGCI workshops.