Last fall, the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) and the IAGD hosted the 2014 AGI Leadership Forum entitled: Accommodating Geoscience Workforce Diversity: Including the Talents of All Geoscientists illuminated the challenges faced by geoscientists living with disabilities, as well as addressed strategies for increasing accessibility within the discipline.
During this meeting, the leadership of AGI’s member societies came together in Washington, DC to discuss pressing issues within the geoscience community. Participants first considered their own biases towards individuals living with disabilities, and discussed how these biases present barriers for individuals with disabilities interested in geoscience fields of study. The group also discussed critical workforce concerns and how to increase participation of individuals with disabilities in geoscience careers by establishing and promoting more accessible opportunities for training and degree programs. AGI and IAGD then provided resources for geoscience organizations to ensure accessibility for their employees and professional members.
Following the Leadership Forum, AGI’s current President, Dr. Eric Riggs and Workforce Development Specialist, Heather Houlton and IAGD’s Executive Director, Dr. Chris Atchison, began writing a community-driven statement focused on promoting access and inclusion. After several months of development and revision, the final statement is now available and being approved by the AGI member societies. The full statement is provided below. For more information on AGI’s commitment to access and inclusion for individuals with disabilities, please visit: http://www.americangeosciences.org/
Consensus Statement Regarding Access and Inclusion of Individuals
Living with Disabilities in the Geosciences
Washington, District of Columbia
The geosciences are central to understanding the interaction between the Earth system and humankind, and are vital to global economic and social development. As a community, it is important that we are inclusive, welcoming, and open to all members of society. The geosciences face challenges in securing the workforce necessary to meet the needs of the coming decades. To increase talent and diversity in the geoscience workforce, opportunities for more inclusive learning and professional development must be developed that enable all geoscientists to advance academically and professionally, including those living with disabilities.
The member societies of the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) are committed to promoting educational and career opportunities to all geoscientists through proactive efforts that engage individuals with disabilities and reduce barriers to full inclusion, in accordance with any relevant national regulations. Consequently, we, as the representative leadership of geoscientific professional societies and organizations, seek to embrace, empower, engage and sustain the participation and retention of individuals living with disabilities within all sectors of the geoscience community.
As an inclusive geoscience community, supportive of the needs of all current and future geoscientists, we agree to:
- Encourage the development of flexible learning environments and inclusive curricula, including in the classroom, laboratory, and field that are conducive to developing the skills of geoscientists of all physical, sensory, or cognitive abilities.
- Foster the participation and support the retention of geoscientists who live with disabilities in academic communities, our professional organizations, and the workforce.
- Promote accessible pathways for students with disabilities to transition into geoscience careers that maximize their unique perspectives, competencies, and abilities.
- As a representative society, ensure that career and professional development opportunities are made available to geoscientists with all abilities to support life-long growth, and by extension, promote inclusion and act as an example for other organizations.