Geoscience Diversity Research
The research we conduct on geoscience diversity is near and dear to our hearts. This research is about understanding what the barriers are to full participation of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Other People of Color in Geoscience. It is about understanding and dismantling inherently racist systems of power, so that People of Color can find fulfillment in geoscience. Browse some of our geoscience diversity research below!
[Lead Author: Carlene Burton]
The Unlearning Racism in Geosciences (URGE) program guides groups of geoscientists as they draft, implement, and assess anti-racist policies and resources for their workplace. Some participating Geoscientists of Color (GoC) shared concerns about microaggression, tokenism, and power struggles within their groups. These reports led us to collect and analyze data that describe the experiences of GoC in URGE. The data are from five discussion groups and two surveys. Our analyses revealed that participating GoC want to continue working with White colleagues on anti-racist work. GoC want White colleagues not to shy away from doing anti-racist work. Instead, GoC want White colleagues (1) to create and adhere to robust behavioral codes of conduct, (2) to focus discussions on anti-racism, (3) to act on anti-racism initiatives, (4) not to prompt GoC to educate them or reveal trauma, and (5) to refrain from microaggressions and tokenism. These desired outcomes were achieved in some groups with varying degrees of success. Correcting a history of mistrust relating to racism and anti-racism action is key to implementing and assessing effective anti-racist policies and resources. This requires leadership support, following through on anti-racism action, and deepening relationships between GoC and White colleagues. Future anti-racist programs should spend a substantial amount of time on and demonstrate the importance of training participants how to discuss racism effectively and how to create and adhere to robust behavioral codes of conduct. Future programs should also explore developing a robust program-wide code of conduct that includes a policy for reporting offenses.
[Lead Author: Carlene Burton]
Our goal with this research is to explore how the interactions between leaders and those being led influence the implementation, assessment, and effectiveness of anti-racist policies and resources in geoscience workplaces. To this end, we are conducting research to answer the following two questions: (1) How do leaders in describe the hidden and visible barriers they face when implementing anti-racist policies that affect the recruitment and retention of geoscientists of color? and (2) How do leaders describe their decision-making processes during various ethical dilemmas that threaten the implementation of anti-racist policies that affect the recruitment and retention of geoscientists of color? We are doing this research via the Unlearning Racism in Geoscience program.
[Lead Author: Vashan Wright]
The use of active-learning strategies to teach out-of-school time (OST) geoscience courses have not signiﬁcantly increased the number of racially minoritized students that pursue Geoscience. Studies hypothesize that signiﬁcantly more minoritized students would pursue Geoscience if courses better resemble the students’ Collectivist cultures. We test this hypothesis by using pre-course, post-course, and after-activity surveys to quantify minoritized student engagement, perception of, and interest in pursuing Geoscience during two OST courses taught with learning activities that emphasize individualism (individual-learning) or collectivism (group-learning). After-activity surveys show that minoritized students (n = 68) prefer group-learning activities. Students rated group activities as more difficult and fun. Students also believed they learned more during group-learning activities. Their engagement and interest in lessons varied more widely during individual-learning activities. Pre- and post-course surveys reveal that the number of students interested in pursuing STEM and Geoscience increased from 43 to 54 and 11 to 16, respectively. The students’ perceptions of geoscientists broadened to include scientists who not only study the earth but also its history and governing processes. We interpret these results to mean that (1) educators may employ group-learning activities when they desire to increase task difficulty without sacriﬁcing student engagement, and (2) individual-learning activities are less reliable means of engaging minoritized students. Our results imply that incorporating more group-learning activities in the classroom and ﬁeld may help improve Geoscience diversity since group-learning activities resonate more strongly with minoritized students’ cultures.