GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 83-9
Presentation Time: 10:25 AM


BRYANT, Raquel, Geology & Geophysics, Texas A&M University, 3115 TAMU, 611 Ross St, College Station, TX 77843, KEISLING, Benjamin, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964 and BERNARD, Rachel E., Department of Geology, Amherst College, 16 Barrett Hill Dr, Amherst, MA 01002

Geoscientists share an appreciation for Earth’s history, yet many of us have not reckoned with the history of exclusion in our field. Here, we discuss how the application of critical theories has informed our approach to reckoning with the exclusionary history of geoscience and its present manifestations. In 1972, Dr. Randolph Bromery chaired the First National Conference on Minority Participation in Earth Science and Mineral Engineering. This landmark event brought together >300 people, ranging from geoscientists, civil rights leaders, industry professionals, to public officials. Despite their efforts, limited progress has been made towards diversifying the geoscience workforce. We unravel this history, its legacy and its current impacts using three critical theories. Sharpe’s "wake work" provides a lens to see this past as co-existent and in conversation with the present, which discourages the erasure of Black geoscientists like Bromery. Brave leadership describes a commitment to pursue social justice in higher education with as much diligence, vigor and passion brought to pursuing scientific excellence. Critical student geographies allow for the problematization of present hegemonic whiteness in geoscience education. Synthesizing these insights, we propose a two-pronged approach to celebrate Bromery’s legacy of leadership, cultivate the next generation of leaders, and consciously map a way forward. (1) We are organizing a Second National Conference in 2022 that will feature community-driven programming and highlight how the bold pursuit of civil rights is integral to creating a diverse and vibrant scientific community today. (2) A team of early-career geoscientists will produce the 2072 Report, a 50-year roadmap that draws from geosciences, Black Studies, social sciences and other disciplines to chart a course toward justice for the next generation of geoscience leaders. This scholarly, community-driven report will be a guide for institutions, funding agencies, industry, and the general public to steer their contributions to the universally beneficial goal of broadening participation in geosciences over the next half century. This approach is distinct from other antiracism efforts because it applies critical theories to intentionally decenter whiteness, reduce harm, and promote justice.