IDEEAS Comment on Current Climate and A Way Foward

Black Lives Matter Poster

IDEEAS, a working group that fosters community, belonging and connection in EAS, released a statement denouncing anti-Black racism in all its forms and affirming the right of every human being to dignity, security, and equitable treatment.

Dear EAS-ers,

We are living in an era of multiple crises, mounting violence, and mourning.  The current pandemic has not only upended the rhythm of our daily lives, our work, and our ways of connecting with each other.  It has ravaged bodies, communities, economies, and our collective sense of physical and spiritual safety.  The IDEEAS working group acknowledges COVID-19’s disparate financial and health impacts on Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other communities of color.  We acknowledge that Black communities, in particular, are grieving recent police and vigilante killings of unarmed Black people, including George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, David McAtee, and Tony McDade.  IDEEAS denounces the brutal, senseless acts that have forever extinguished these Black lives and have reignited centuries-long, racialized violence in America.  Moreover, we denounce anti-Black racism in all its forms and affirm the right of every human being to dignity, security, and equitable treatment.

In EAS, we strive to be good department citizens.  Good citizens create a caring community while valuing the collective and individual experiences of all members.  We recognize the multiple identities a person may claim, including their gender, race, ethnicity, spiritual practice, national origin, ability status, primary language, and sexuality.  We acknowledge that these facets interact to create experiences both shared (by those with similar facets) and unique to the individual.  We recognize that a person’s identities are not mere abstractions, but meaningfully impact one’s path to and through Cornell and the world at large.  We demonstrate compassion and understand that, during trying times, it is natural to feel exhausted or overwhelmed, to need a break, and to be afforded the flexibility to breathe and grieve.  We give ourselves the space to stumble and try not to hold it against each other when we inevitably make mistakes.

More broadly, good citizens critically evaluate our environment and place current events in their appropriate social, historical, and economic context.  It is imperative we understand that the collective trauma of COVID-19 is amplified by disproportionate deaths, both natural and untimely, in communities of color.  We condemn the increase in anti-Black and anti-Asian violence and discriminatory policies fueled by suspicion, stereotype, and stress during this pandemic.  We further acknowledge that systemic racism is endemic and amplified by current crises.  We sometimes fall short of these goals, but good citizens persist in the pursuit to establish and sustain a culture of respect.

Culture is a living thing. It can be nourished, cultivated, changed, and inculcated.  While the geosciences is still among the least diverse STEM fields, IDEEAS acknowledges that department leadership has committed to reversing this trend in EAS.  As we diversify our faculty, staff, and student body in the coming years, we will most assuredly have a more complex collection of identities and perspectives. Now more than ever, it is important we implement intentionally inclusive practices and look to our values to create the cohesion that our myriad lived experiences may challenge. The IDEEAS working group, dedicated to Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, believes that during times of crisis, we draw strength from community.  Our connections sustain us, and fostering these connections requires that we take the time to appreciate and understand each other’s stories and the unique paths we’ve travelled.  It is not enough to recruit a more diverse faculty or student body; EAS must build our collective capacity to meaningfully engage with a more diverse department and anticipate the needs of people whose backgrounds are markedly different from those of the populations we’ve historically served.

IDEEAS is committed to creating space for intentional interactions and engagement across all roles, levels, and sub-fields in the department.  To that end, we hope you will join us for a special Snee Tea this Friday at 12 pm ET on the panel discussion Maintaining D&I Practices during COVID-19, which you may view here.  We look forward to thoughtful reflection on our community values and to hearing from you about what it means to take care of each other, and ourselves, during times of distress.

We also invite you to participate in Unconscious Bias: What You Should Know and Why it Should Matter, a 90-minute interactive seminar that will provide empowering strategies to counteract our biases and foster a more resilient community.  We will hold this seminar in late June and encourage you to fill out your availability here so that we can accommodate your schedule.

Not sure how you can take action? Check out this list of Anti-racism resources put together by IDEEAS: Be kind to yourself. Support your peers. Educate yourself. Participate.


Warm regards,

IDEEAS Working Group

Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in EAS

Fostering community, belonging, and connection in EAS and beyond


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