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

26 April 2021

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

Retaining and recruiting a diverse group of scientists as part of the Arctic LTER (Long-Term Ecological Research) project is critical to our long-term success as a productive scientific community. The Arctic LTER research community represents multiple institutions, scientific disciplines, individual identities, and career stages. Conducting research in a remote location carries with it particular challenges and creating an inclusive, welcoming environment will take a community-wide commitment. This DEI Statement and Action Plan is a living document. It will continue to develop as we move forward as a community, we adapt the statement and plan to complement the DEI statements and goals of our home institutions, and we grow as our understanding of DEI issues and best practices matures.

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.

Specific Goals

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

1a: Provide resources to the Arctic LTER community to raise awareness of DEI issues.

  1. Link our webpage to DEI resources curated by the LTER Network Office, Ecological Society of America, and other professional societies associated with the scientific disciplines we represent. Highlight several resources most relevant to the Arctic LTER community.

  2. Devote a portion of our annual winter planning meeting to DEI issues and provide practical tips and tools regarding recruiting and retaining a diverse community.

  3. Work with TFS management and staff to ensure implicit bias and other relevant trainings are available to Arctic LTER community members.

1b: Create a process to introduce the Arctic LTER community to all new members and build community throughout the year.

  1. Promote the LTER Network orientation sessions in September and January so all new Arctic LTER members may learn more about the network.

  2. Create and update an Arctic LTER orientation to welcome all new project members (students, staff, collaborators) in late spring and the fall. DEI education will be one of the key components of this orientation.

  3. Create an on-line discussion platform where everyone on the project can ask questions and connect with others.

  4. Provide contact information for project participants via a password protected site to facilitate communication.

  5. Continue planning social events associated with the winter planning meeting to welcome new project members and encourage communication prior to the field season.

1c: Ensure that all Arctic LTER community members have opportunities to contribute ideas, opinions and feedback.

  1. Create a “principles of community” document to outline the organizational structure of the Arctic LTER and clarify roles of the Executive Committee (EC) and collaborators in terms of funding, material support, and other resources provided by the Arctic LTER project as well as expectations for these roles.

  2. Create an advisory board to the EC with individuals to include a DEI Committee representative, senior RA representative, postdoctoral researcher, and a graduate student representative. Each of these members would maintain active communication with their peers in the Arctic LTER community. In addition, the graduate student representative would represent the Arctic LTER to the LTER Network’s graduate student group.

  3. Include a mechanism (with an option to remain anonymous) during the annual winter meeting for any community member to bring up topics and opinions related to DEI issues (even if they are not able to attend the meeting). Continue to provide opportunities for additional discussions at the meeting as requested by the community.

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

2a. In collaboration with TFS, assist PIs and investigators with information regarding the Arctic LTER and TFS to help them recruit diverse research teams (including PIs) and adequately prepare them to work and live at TFS. Examples include:

  1. Provide suggestions for where and how to advertise position openings to help recruit from a broad audience

  2. Create “Life at TFS” short videos featuring recent students or postdocs

  3. Provide information regarding resources for field gear to ensure new participants understand the gear needed and are able to obtain what they need regardless of financial circumstances.

  4. Provide discussion points to use to recruit students: What is research? What is “in the field”? What does a day in the life at TFS look like? With whom will you be working? Will it cost you anything?

  5. Provide a list of topics (analogous to a risk assessment document) for PIs to discuss with new recruits and to review with all team members annually, which would include how to interact with the public while in the field and other best practices for field safety from

    #SaferScience.

  6. Ensure that the Arctic LTER webpage is welcoming to all so community members can use that page as an entry point

2b. Partner with faculty and researchers at minority-serving institutions, Alaska institutions, and via professional societies to actively recruit diverse students and collaborators.

  1. Pay particular attention to recruiting Indigenous Alaskan students and collaborators. If possible, consider reserving one or both REU positions each summer for Alaska Indigenous students.

  2. PIs could share best practices in hiring from their home institutions.

  3. The Arctic LTER EC will actively seek out junior collaborators at these partner institutions to provide support to facilitate access to data and the field sites.

2c. Actively collaborate with UAF to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment at TFS.

  1. Work with TFS to remind PIs to investigate mental health resources available for their field crews from their home institutions when personnel are on-site at TFS.

  2. TFS will conduct mid- and end of season climate surveys. Arctic LTER will be informed of these results in aggregated form and will consider how to address comments, coordinated with TFS.

  3. As TFS continues to update procedures, such as designating a male and female senior scientist in camp, Arctic LTER will publicize these changes and resources within our community.

  4. Continue to engage with TFS management pro-actively and as issues arise that affect all residents.

2d. Consider how to engage others in our research community who cannot travel to Alaska.

  1. RET participants, K-12 teachers, PolarTREC teachers, and their students

  2. Students who can use data during the academic year

  3. Structure some summer REU or other research experiences to be modelling based or otherwise set up to be possible outside Alaska

  4. Provide Arctic LTER support for analysis of Arctic LTER datasets and support proposals to fund personnel or computing resources to conduct such analyses

Goal 3: Collaborating with TFS, engage with the Indigenous Alaska community on the North Slope in communities such as Anaktuvuk Pass, Wiseman, and Prudhoe Bay.

We hope to partner with the Indigenous community to insure that multiple "ways-of-knowing" are incorporated into our understanding of Alaskan arctic tundra ecosystems and climate change in this region. We would like to invite Indigenous partners to the winter meeting, consider hosting them at Toolik for short research trips, actively recruit Indigenous students and collaborators (see also Goal 2b), and investigate other ways in which the Arctic LTER can facilitate their involvement in our community.

Implementation, Accountability and Oversight

Arctic LTER DEI Coordinator: The lead PI of the Arctic LTER will solicit applications for the position of Arctic LTER DEI Coordinator. This individual will serve in this role for three years, chair the Arctic LTER DEI Committee, and serve on the Arctic LTER EC.

Arctic LTER DEI Committee: The committee will include at least one PI, RA, and graduate student in addition to the Coordinator. Effort will be made to have the committee represent diverse identities. Each member will be appointed for 2 years with half of the committee rotating off each year. Members will volunteer or be nominated; the EC and DEI coordinator will determine membership. The committee

will work with the EC to prioritize and complete the work outlined in the plan. The committee will be responsible for evaluating the plan annually and submitting a summary report to the lead PI for the annual report to NSF. The committee will meet once per month during the academic year and will make a presentation the Arctic LTER community at the winter meeting.