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

This document is an action plan for 2023, 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 2022

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

  • ARC DEI committee met monthly throughout the academic year. We added three new members: Amanda Morrison, Marcel Vaz, and Rose Cory.
  • Laura Gough, Sarah Messenger (rotated off in Fall 2022), Haley Dunleavy, Amanda Morrison, and Ruby An serve on the LTER Network’s DEI Committee, meeting monthly with reps from other sites to learn from each other. Dunleavy also serves on the Field Safety Working Group.
  • Gough made a presentation at the ARC LTER 2022 winter meeting highlighting the proposed plan for next year.
  • ARC DEI Action Plan for 2022 was drafted by the committee, reviewed by the ARC community, approved in May 2022, and posted on the LTER website.
  • An “Introduction to Toolik” document was updated and distributed by Sarah Messenger, member of the DEI committee, to all new project members in spring 2022.
  • Two DEI committee members (Sarah Messenger and Jason Dobkowski) hosted an Early Career happy hour during the annual ARC LTER winter meeting to welcome new junior project members and two DEI office hour sessions, open for all at any career stage to attend.
  • Messenger and Dobkowski hosted two Zoom meetings in May for all project members deploying to the field in 2022 to answer remaining questions and help orient new members.
  • TFS organized three in-camp community discussions about DEI topics: 1) general DEI, 2) creating videos that show what life and work at TFS is like, and 3) creating a community gear closet. The first was highly attended by ARC LTER students and post-docs, but no PIs. The other meetings had lower attendance but were still productive.

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 ARC DEI committee meetings, we have supported TFS activities such as creating a community climate survey that would be sent to all residents following their stay.
  • In 2022, two science community liaisons were available all season at TFS, one man and one woman, to provide options for personnel to discuss arising issues.
  • TFS hosted an in-camp discussion to brainstorm ideas for and plan short videos to highlight “Life at Toolik.” We’re continuing to develop strategies for creating them. Two ARC LTER-affiliated projects participated in social media “takeovers” of TFS accounts to highlight their research.
  • Ruby An began assembling a TFS Community Field Gear closet for students, early career researchers, and anyone at Toolik needing extra gear during the field season. Items were donated by LTER and several collaborating projects (thank you!). We also received a $1000 BAJEDI award from the Polar Science Early Career Community Office that will be used to buy new communal bug shirts and raingear.
  • TFS sent an end of season climate survey to the in-camp 2022 community with 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. The response rate was very low.
  • TFS revised its sauna policy to explicitly state the gender expansive definitions of Men’s & Women’s hours and prohibit alcohol use in the sauna premises. We also created an LGBTQ+ friendly open hour and a genderqueer sauna hour after a request from the user community.

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

  • TFS SEDC Manager Amanda Young is working with professors of Alaska Native Studies at UAF 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 an article about TFS’s renewed funding, broadly highlighting the research TFS supports, including ARC LTER.
  • TFS publicized its Alaska Native Resource Library to the camp community this summer and highlighted a self-paced land acknowledgement workshop on their website.
  • Dunleavy began to open the door for new communications by talking with program coordinators at the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) Middle School Academy, highlighting outreach products at the Alaska Resource Education Round-Up, and attending the Navigating the New Arctic Community Meeting in November.

Goals for 2023

Because the grant has moved to Columbia University and a new PI team will run the project beginning in March 2023, some items in the 2021 plan have been postponed until the new team is in place. These include possibly developing a principles of community document for the Arctic LTER and putting together an advisory board for the Executive Committee.

During the winter 2023 ARC planning meeting, an anonymous survey will be made available for any comments regarding the DEI plan or other DEI issues. Gough will also give a presentation to the entire ARC LTER group to inform them of our plans for 2023.

During summer 2023, working with TFS staff, a “gear closet” will be expanded so that TFS users have access to gear they may have forgotten. ADD ACTION ITEM: If you are a long-term Toolik PI or ending a project and have gear to donate, please contact Ruby!

During summer 2023, 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. Lab groups will sign up for particular topics and then the top ranked videos will be screened at the next winter meeting.

In fall 2023, the DEI committee will finalize a resource webpage in conjunction with TFS to provide resources to project PIs regarding best practices in recruiting and retaining students and collaborators from typically under-represented groups as well as suggested briefing topics to use when orienting new personnel to conducting research with the Arctic LTER.

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