We at IRIS join our colleagues from across the country and around the globe in unequivocally denouncing racism. BLACK LIVES MATTER. We also know that racism is persistent in STEM and that there are systemic inequalities in academia and particularly in the geosciences.
We recognize that it is not enough to say we are committed to creating a diverse workforce or we are working on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). We must act. We must set measurable goals to improve the equity within our organization and our larger scientific community, and we must be held accountable for showing impactful improvements. Thus, we have begun the long overdue process of looking into our organizational policies and culture and examining how they support, promote, or exacerbate racial injustice and inequality. We are also determining changes we can make in the short-, mid-, and long-term to address inclusion and retention of Black, Brown, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color in the geosciences.
We are creating the first draft of a plan that IRIS can adopt to address anti-Black and other forms of racism and discrimination by identifying and changing institutional actions and characteristics that contribute to inequity and exclusivity in seismology. This plan is a work-in-progress and will be open to publicly collected and shared feedback from the community once it is released. A few example actions from this draft plan include:
- Document and make available the selection criteria for IRIS governance, interns, speakers, travel scholarships, as well as hiring policies at IRIS.
- Include safety for community members as selection criteria for meeting locations (e.g., local/campus police policies).
- Provide training and resources for IRIS staff, IRIS intern mentors, and IRIS community members to avoid and intervene to stop anti-Black, racist, and biased behavior and rhetoric.
- Create a video/animation series featuring Indigenous knowledge of and contributions to geosciences (e.g., earthquake history in the Pacific NW).
- Create an IRIS award for mentorship and service, as these tasks often go unrecognized and fall disproportionately on underrepresented scientists.
- Publish a report of DEI efforts with timelines for improvement and records of accountability, including the individuals who are responsible for each initiative. Updates will be published semi-annually on the IRIS website and disseminated through social media.
There has been a lot of previous work done to address racism and DEI in geosciences, especially work done by people of color. These resources continue to guide our efforts.
IRIS joins AGU in signing on to “A Call to Action for an Anti-Racist Science Community from Geoscientists of Color: Listen, Act, Lead” and encourages its members and member institutions to read and support this call from academics of color in the geosciences as well as this additional call to action: “Call for a Robust Anti-Racism Plan for The Geosciences.”
We encourage input and discussions about how we can make science and seismology a safer, more equitable and just endeavor, and we want the community to know that we are committed to this ongoing process.
Bob Detrick, IRIS President
(Artwork by Dr. Lucia Perez Diaz, used with permission, created for #Black in Geoscience)