Dear IAGD Community,

Last year, awareness for improving access and accommodation in the geoscience disciplines grew beyond expectations. The IAGD continues to be a resource of ideas, and personal instructional experiences and materials. But even more, the IAGD is becoming an organization of opportunity, creating a community that students and geoscientists with disabilities engage in, share ideas, experiences and support, and continue to grow in their academic pursuits and career pathways.

Over the past several years, I have witnessed the impact of connecting someone to the natural environment, as they experience a rock outcrop, an overlook, a floodplain, or even the inside of a cave for the very first time. I am constantly impressed by the many k-12 teachers and higher education faculty whose tireless efforts have carved the path of inclusion for students with disabilities, with little to no recognition for their efforts. Today, our progress is based on the foundation of that work. As one of the central tenets of scientific innovation is the creative perspective of a diverse population, our evolving discipline will be shaped through the collective knowledge effort of every one you.

I am so impressed by the growing number of opportunities for accessible research and instruction in both classroom and field studies. In the nearly 7 years since forming the national association, conversations about access and inclusion has become more prominent. Today, programs and opportunities are developed with diversity as a foundational theme, and less of an afterthought. The IAGD community has gone from a grass-roots idea, to an encouraged association of diverse perspectives making an impact on an ever changing science discipline.

The importance of the IAGD mission has never been in question. We each have a commitment to promoting a science that is inclusive of everyone, regardless of physical and cognitive ability. This commitment has never before been more important. The American Geosciences Institute continues to project severe shortage of talent in the geoscience workforce over the next decade. The awareness of the geosciences as a viable career option must be promoted, but we must also look beyond traditional recruitment and instructional methods, and focus on the unique talents of the individual, and not their physical limitations.

We have many milestones to celebrate in this newsletter. First, the IAGD is now a registered non-profit organization. The development of the IAGD Foundation will allow us to begin offering programs for both students and faculty as they work to enhance inclusive opportunities in research and instruction. Secondly, as the IAGD network grows globally, we are developing opportunities for international communities to grow as well. The first IAGD International Ambassador has been appointed in India. Please continue reading to learn more about both of these exciting happenings.

Each of you will have a lasting impact on the future of the geoscience discipline. What will that be, and how will you be remembered? I personally thank you all for your hard work and diligence in building the IAGD network and promoting the accessibility of our science.

With much appreciation,

Chris Atchison


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Disclaimer: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0939645. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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