Arctic LTER Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Statement and Action Plan

This document is an action plan for 2024, building on the proposed items in our Arctic LTER DEI Statement and Action Plan adopted in May 2021.  Annual documents will be disseminated to propose action items to begin March 1st each year, coinciding with the anniversary date of the grant, and will be finalized by May each year. Please refer to the 2021 Statement and Action Plan for background information and the broader list of goals and specific proposed actions. Additional document: Resources for ARC LTER PIs to Assist with Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Justice Issues

Indigenous Land Acknowledgement

The Arctic LTER project is based at Toolik Field Station (TFS), which is operated by the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF) and funded mainly by the U.S. National Science Foundation. We acknowledge that TFS and the surrounding areas are located on the ancestral hunting grounds of the Nunamiut and occasional hunting grounds and routes of the Gwich’in, Koyokuk, and Iñupiaq peoples. We further acknowledge that our work, at TFS and elsewhere, occurs on Indigenous land. We acknowledge the legacy of violence and forced removal perpetrated against the first inhabitants of these lands, and honor the Indigenous people who have and continue to inhabit and steward the lands where we live and work.

Accomplishments in 2023

Goal 1: Ensure that the Arctic LTER (Long-Term Ecological Research) community is inclusive, welcoming, and respectful of our differences.

  • Arctic LTER DEI committee met monthly throughout the academic year. This year the committee included: Laura Gough (chair), Rose Cory, Amanda Morrison, Jennie McLaren, Seeta Sistla, Marcel Vaz, Jason Dobkowski, Sarah Messenger, Ruby An, Haley Dunleavy, Donie Bret-Harte, and Jessie Motes.  These members represented project PIs, affiliated co-investigators, postdocs, graduate students, and research or technical staff. 
  • Laura Gough, Haley Dunleavy, and Amanda Morrison attend the LTER Network’s DEI Committee meeting monthly with reps from other LTER sites to learn from each other.
  • Gough made a presentation at the Arctic LTER 2023 winter meeting highlighting the proposed plan for next year.
  • Arctic LTER DEI Action Plan for 2023 was drafted by the committee, reviewed by the Arctic LTER community, approved in May 2023, and posted on the website.
  • An “Introduction to Toolik” document was updated by Jason Dobkowski and Ruby An (DEI committee members) for the Arctic LTER community in spring 2023.
  • An and Dobkowski hosted Zoom meetings in May using a powerpoint file shared with the Arctic LTER community for all project members deploying to the field in 2023 to answer questions and help orient new members. These sessions were opened in 2023 to all Toolik Field Station (TFS) users and reached more than 85 participants.
  • TFS facilitated a station-wide community discussion about DEI at the station.
  • The Arctic LTER DEI Committee provided feedback to the Arctic LTER Executive Committee regarding two new documents: an “Arctic LTER Code of Conduct” and “Arctic LTER Operating Principles.” The Executive Committee approved these documents and posted them on the Arctic LTER website in May 2023.

Goal 2: Retain, recruit, and support a more diverse Arctic LTER community at all levels.

  • Working with TFS, we posted job ads to the TFS job board for dissemination by their staff to multiple groups including minority-serving institutions.
  • During our monthly Arctic LTER DEI committee meetings, we supported TFS activities such as creating a community climate survey that would be sent to all residents following their stay.
  • In 2023, five community liaisons rotated shifts to be available all season at TFS, one man and one woman, to provide options for personnel to discuss arising issues.
  • TFS organized social media ‘takeovers’ where science project members posted videos and photos that show what it’s like to live and work at the station.  Dunleavy presented on this effort at AGU 2023, and we’re continuing to create more videos in 2024.
  • Ruby An continued assembling and organizing a TFS Community Field Gear closet for students, early career researchers, and anyone at Toolik needing extra gear during the field season; 77 visitors accessed this resource in 2023. Items were donated by LTER and several collaborating projects (thank you!). We also received a $1000 BAJEDI (Belonging, Access, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) award from the Polar Science Early Career Community Office that was used to buy new communal bug shirts and raingear.
  • TFS distributed a comprehensive, IRB (Institutional Review Board)-approved, end of season survey to collect data on station demographics and cultural climate in 2023. The climate survey to the 2023 Toolik community included open ended questions asking what was going well at TFS and what could be improved. The survey provided helpful comments about safety, communication, and reporting mechanisms and had a response rate of 36% with 196 responses.
  • TFS continued to offer an LGBTQ+ friendly open hour and a genderqueer sauna hour.
  • The Arctic LTER DEI Committee developed a resource document to share with the Arctic LTER Community linked to DEI resources that will be helpful to reach this goal and goal 1.

Goal 3: Collaborating with TFS, engage with the Alaska Native community on the North Slope in communities such as Anaktuvuk Pass and Utqiaġvik.

  • TFS SEDC (Spatial and Environmental Data Center) Manager Amanda Young is working with professors of Alaska Native Studies at UAF (University of Alaska Fairbanks) to develop a formal mechanism for collaboration between scientists at TFS and the Anaktuvuk Pass community. They recently submitted a grant proposal.
  • Several Alaska news outlets published articles about TFS research and activities.
  • TFS continued to build and publicize its Alaska Native Resource Library to the station community this summer.
  • An and Young took a personal trip to Anaktuvuk Pass in August to form initial connections with curators at the Simon Paneak Memorial museum and other community members.

Goals for 2024

Goal 1: Ensure that the Arctic LTER research community is inclusive, welcoming, and respectful of our differences.

DEI Workshop: During the winter 2024 Arctic LTER planning meeting, the Arctic LTER DEI Committee will run a DEI workshop to engage all meeting participants in discussions regarding DEI and the Arctic LTER with a focus on two themes: effective mentoring of undergraduates and safe fieldwork in the Arctic. The committee will provide additional resources on these two topics. An anonymous survey will be made available for any comments regarding the DEI plan or other DEI issues. The committee will continue to invite new members to participate.

Demystifying Arctic Field Work: During summer 2024, the TFS gear closet will continue to operate and will be publicized to the TFS community. DEI Committee members will coordinate recording of short videos at TFS to create a video library depicting life at the station. Dunleavy has already created a shared folder and Slack channel in the Toolik Slack workspace for this purpose. Ideally, lab groups will sign up for particular topics and then the top ranked videos will be screened at the next winter meeting. TFS will also run a weekly communications campaign on the Dining Hall TV announcements highlighting tips for field safety and inclusion.

Goal 2: Retain, recruit, and support a more diverse Arctic LTER community at all levels.

Mentoring Plan, Field Safety, and New Topics for 2025: We will pilot a coordinated undergraduate mentoring program with volunteer PIs (Principal Investigators)/supervisors and mentees completing a mentoring plan before the field season begins and completing an anonymous survey in the early fall to report out regarding how this program helped (or not). In fall 2024, the DEI committee will plan activities for the winter meeting. These will include reporting back on the mentoring plan pilot and continuing the discussion about field safety with a focus on identity-based safety issues. The committee plans to focus on two new topics for the winter 2025 meeting: recruitment and retention of diverse personnel.

Outreach & Education: Also in fall 2024, the DEI committee will be expanded to explicitly include education and outreach as well as DEI topics. A chair of this new committee will be identified, and new members will be recruited.

Operational Logistics: The committee will need to draft new guidelines for the “Arctic LTER Operating Principles” document to be approved by the Arctic LTER Executive Committee. Gough, who has been chair of the DEI Committee since 2020, will rotate out of this role in September 2024, and a new chair will be identified.

Goal 3: Collaborating with TFS, engage with the Alaska Native community on the North Slope in communities such as Anaktuvuk Pass and Utqiaġvik.

We will continue to collaborate with TFS by working with DEI committee members Donie Bret-Harte and Dunleavy, providing additional perspective on TFS proposed DEI activities and ensuring we are leveraging work between the groups.

Specifically, the committee will research and consider opportunities to apply for NSF LTER DEI Supplements to provide funding for efforts to establish relationships with Alaska Native communities.