June 9, 2020
Dear Students and Colleagues:
We, the Earth Sciences faculty of Dartmouth College, see the pain of our Black students and our broader community that is caused by state-sanctioned violence against Black and Brown people. We recognize the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Georgia on February 23 rd ; Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky on March 13th ; and George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25th , and the prior violence against so many of our fellow Americans, which is and has been perpetrated in a multitude of ways. These outcomes are the most recent results of the structural racism imbued across the most powerful institutions in this country. Higher education and geosciences are not immune (Dutt, 2019), and the lack of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive geoscience community comes with negative consequences on a planetary scale (Bell and White, 2020) .
As scientists and educators, we want to start with a statement of the problem: there are myriad ongoing threats to Black, Indigenous, and other persons of color, as well as immigrants, members of the queer and trans communities, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations. The pain and violence is most acutely felt by the most disenfranchised, but negatively affects all. Inaction reinforces structural inequities, which further block access to institutions of higher learning, including our very own Earth Sciences community.
We recognize we can enact meaningful structural change now, and to do so takes durable commitment from ourselves and our professional communities. We are bolstered by the deep commitments by some leaders across the geosciences and some professional societies (Paleontological Society, American Geophysical Union, Geochemical Society, American Chemical Society), and welcome your commitment.
We support community members in civil action on-going and upcoming (e.g., the call to shut down STEM activities on Wednesday, June 10th: https://www.shutdownstem.com/). On Wednesday, the Earth Sciences faculty will focus that day on revisiting our plan on commitment to Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (IDE), which we wrote and adopted in February 2020, as part of our 10-year departmental self-study. The goals we set for ourselves in February 2020 are specifically: (i) to increase the proportion of underrepresented minorities at all levels within our department, from the faculty to the staff, postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and undergraduates; (ii) achieve parity in underrepresented minorities enrolled in the EARS major to align with Dartmouth's undergraduate population . We recognize this is only a start.
To do so, we re-commit to the following actions , and will assess progress annually: (i) regular training in implicit bias for all faculty, staff, and graduate students; (ii) increase the visibility of minority Earth scientists in our courses, seminars and department decorations; (iii) remove visual cues from the department that reinforce stereotypes that the Earth sciences are only for white outdoor enthusiasts; (iv) improve access to the EARS major by developing a non-Stretch major track that allows students who are unable to or uninterested in participating in the Stretch to be majors; (v) develop VR field trips to improve accessibility of remote field locations of geological interest; (vi) mentor students through programs such as EE Just, and other campus initiatives that increase diverse participation in STEM at Dartmouth; (vii) work with the campus IDE to recruit diverse faculty and postdoctoral candidates.
We also challenge the College to partner in our conscious efforts to increase diversity, as was originally set forth in the Inclusive Excellence initiative. We welcome and encourage input from all community members, to join us in the critical work of educating ourselves, particularly those of us privileged enough to not be subject to systemic explicit and implicit racism. We will seek expert input where possible (e.g. SERC). We welcome input from all community members, and while you may always reach out directly, you can also share with the IDE committee securely and anonymously.
The work will be hard. We will make mistakes. We will be uncomfortable, but are wholly committed to doing better. We are committed to build a more just, inclusive, and equitable Earth Sciences community at Dartmouth and beyond. We are here for all of you.
EARS Faculty (alphabetical): Xiahong Feng, Robert Hawley, Brian Jackson, C. Brenhin Keller, Meredith Kelly, William Leavitt, Erich Osterberg, Marisa Palucis, Carl Renshaw, Mukul Sharma, Sarah Slotznick, Leslie Sonder, Justin Strauss