Education AGU News

Shaping the Future of Science

As Earth and space scientists gather this December for AGU’s annual Fall Meeting, Eos looks at the ways in which the community is reimagining itself to create a more diverse and adaptable future.

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Every community around the world has weathered extreme changes this year. The geosciences are no different. As the AGU community gathers for its first all-online Fall Meeting (#AGU20) this December, we offer you this special double issue of Eos as an introduction and, we hope, inspiration. Eos science advisers Lisa White (Diversity and Inclusion) and Eric Riggs (Education) worked with us to design an issue that embraced the #AGU20 theme: Shaping the Future of Science.

“This issue highlights novel diversity, equity, and inclusion practices, direct recommendations from underrepresented scholars, and creative strategies—many rooted in activism—that have the potential to shift long-held, historically exclusive traditions in Earth science,” said White, director of education at the University of California Museum of Paleontology in Berkeley.

Our slate of expert Opinions are primers for implementing this kind of progress. You’ll find incisive recommendations for adapting fieldwork to draw in—and keep safe—Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and LGBTQ+ scholars; stories from scientists juggling parenthood and careers and a global pandemic; and how to develop resourceful STEM learning ecosystems in your own community.

In our feature articles, we look at institutions that are already accelerating ahead. Who better to show us how to mentor students from a distance than a seafaring organization? Then read about a community college–university partnership that is drawing students to the geosciences—and retaining them. It’s not a model that can be airlifted onto every institution, but it offers important lessons on intentional design that many educators are focused on right now.

An illustration of four children exploring Earth on the cover of Eos’s November-December 2020 issue.
The cover of Eos’s November-December 2020 special issue. Click to enlarge. Credit: Carlos Basabe (illustration); AGU (cover).

“I have seen the geoscience community look inward to see how systemic racism and gendered behavior may be embedded in our current practices as educators,” said Riggs, a professor of geoscience education at Texas A&M University. “Department leaders need to meet with students at all levels, as well as with faculty, to find out where people are thriving, and where they are not. Without sincere information gathering and introspection, we risk changing everything too fast or, worse, changing the things that are working.”

We also report on what the practice of science should look like in a world where respect and empathy for one another are paramount. Julie Maldonado and colleagues reframe the issue of managed retreat so that communities can retain agency when they are forced to relocate due to climate change. We also look at where geoscientists aren’t. More than 2 million people are incarcerated in the United States in facilities that are often deliberately placed in polluted areas or are ill-equipped to deal with climate change. Read about this environmental justice movement and how geoscientists can be a part of it.

“This special issue offers a road map of where we might go from here,” said White. The scientists and institutional models featured in this issue are remarkable examples for those who support AGU’s vision of a thriving, sustainable, and equitable future supported by scientific discovery, innovation, and action. We should remember, said Riggs, “that efforts to help lower barriers and enhance the access and success for communities facing the greatest challenges will improve the environment for all communities.”

Illustrator Carlos Basabe was thinking about the future—in particular, his daughters’ future—when he designed our wonderful cover. We hope his artwork and the reporting in this special issue offer you motivation for the unique role you’ll play in creating the best possible future. As White reminds us, “The responsibility to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the geosciences truly lies in all of us.”

We hope you enjoy our digital and print special issue on Shaping the Future of Science. See you online at #AGU20!

—Heather Goss (@heathermg), Editor in Chief

Citation: Goss, H. (2020), Shaping the future of science, Eos, 101, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020EO151007. Published on 10 November 2020.
Text © 2020. AGU. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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