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Leading group of Earth and space scientists commits to fighting systemic racism

With a new strategic plan, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) is taking action against systemic racism. Tyler Leavitt captured this photo of a Perseid meteor over the desert near Las Vegas on Aug. 12, 2020.
With a new strategic plan, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) is taking action against systemic racism. Tyler Leavitt captured this photo of a Perseid meteor over the desert near Las Vegas on Aug. 12, 2020.
(Image: © Courtesy of Tyler Leavitt)

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is taking action against systemic racism.

In a statement released Thursday (Aug. 13), the AGU, an international nonprofit association supporting Earth and space scientists, announced that it's committing to an actionable plan to combat systemic racism within its ranks.

"Building on the call to action from Geoscientists of Color, notimeforsilence.org, and our conversations, AGU leadership has resolved to take eight bold, meaningful actions now," the statement from AGU reads

Related: Yale astronomy students speak out against institutional racism

As it announced today, the AGU has developed a strategic plan, which youcan find here.

According to the AGU's statement, "Since late May, nearly every committee and leadership group at AGU has been discussing how we — as a global community — must together address systemic racism. We have the opportunity to lead both as individuals and as institutions as we work together to build the equitable future we all envision and value." 

With the strategic plan, the AGU aims to bring these thoughts and conversations to action. According to the plan itself, it "sets the direction for AGU and will frame the work of the board, council, staff and members in the coming years."

This plan comes on the heels of a global conversation about race, diversity and inclusion. At institutions like Yale, students, researchers, professors and more are coming together to confront systemic racism. As the 2019 TEAM-UP report found, action at the institutional level is integral to the success of students in fields like physics and astronomy.

Related: Women of color in astronomy face greater degree of discrimination, harassment

A strategic plan

The specific items within this plan deal with how the AGU invests money, selects leadership, shares scientific findings, which work is chosen to be done, how work is honored and rewarded, and, as AGU officials say in the statement, "how we foster the next generation of scientists and leaders." 

The plan was designed to combat systemic racism but, as the statement explains, the organization's board of directors and council have directed that the AGU maintain "our commitment to the inclusion of all underrepresented ethnic and racial groups and to those with similar issues of discrimination and exclusion, such as members of our LBGTQ+ community."

The strategic plan names six "values:" excellence, integrity, respect, diversity, collaboration and science education and outreach. The plan also names three strategic goals: "catalyze discovery and solutions to scientific and societal challenges," "promote and exemplify an inclusive scientific culture" and "partner broadly with other organizations and sectors to effectively address scientific and societal challenges." Within each of these goals, the AGU has named a number of actions it aims to take.

Email Chelsea Gohd at cgohd@space.com or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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