Friday, January 2, 2015

Inclusive Astronomy Meeting: June 17-19, 2015 at Vanderbilt University

This guest post is composed by the organizers of the Inclusive Astronomy meeting.

We are pleased to announce and invite the participation of all to the inaugural meeting on Inclusive Astronomy to be held June 17-19, 2015, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Inclusive Astronomy 2015 will serve as a welcoming, strategic venue to advocate and provide resources for the inclusion in the astronomy community of: people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, or questioning (LGBTIQ) people; people with disabilities; women; and anyone who holds more than one of these identities. Those who seek to aid in such inclusion are also invited to attend. The organizing committee includes members of the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy, Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy, and Working Group on LGBTIQ Equality of the American Astronomical Society.

Previous successful conferences on diversity and inclusion in astronomy have primarily focused on the need for better representation of women. A key focus of Inclusive Astronomy 2015 will be on intersectionality: the well-established conceptualization that racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, and ableism are linked (e.g., that women of color are faced with the intersection of racism and sexism) and that taking a one-dimensional approach to diversity does not adequately describe people with more than one of these identities. More generally, this meeting will focus strongly on diversity, equity, and inclusion of people of color, LGBTIQ people, women, and people with disabilities in the field of astronomy. 


The meeting is organized around four broad areas: barriers to access; creating inclusive climates; inclusion and access to leadership, power, and decision making; and establishing a community of inclusive practice. Each of these areas will address the inclusion of the communities mentioned above by creating opportunities for understanding, along with strategies and tools for institutional and interpersonal improvement. The meeting will include a diverse set of speakers, including sociologists and other subject matter experts. The program is designed to engage participants at all levels, from students and early career scientists to established practitioners and policy makers with the ultimate goal of establishing meaningful conversations within and between career phases. 

A key aim of this conference is to disseminate research on diversity, equity, and inclusion to the astronomical community. Attendees will share and be provided with tools and strategies to take back to their home institutions. Another important outcome of this conference will be a compilation of Inclusive Astronomy recommendations that will be prepared with community feedback and participation.  This document will be directed toward astronomy departments, observatories, research institutes, diversity committees at institutions and professional organizations, funding agencies, and the broader astronomical community.  These recommendations will build upon and acknowledge previous sets of recommendations for astronomy (such as the Pasadena recommendations for gender equality, Women of Color in Astronomy and Astrophysics, and Supporting LGBT+ Physicists and Astronomers) and include established sociological research.  

As organizers, we acknowledge that this meeting is, and will continue to be, a work in progress and there will be ways that we mess up.  While we are doing our best to avoid significant offenses to any marginalized group, we encourage the astronomical community to hold us accountable to make sure that this conference lives up to its ideals.  In the meantime, we welcome ideas for speakers, workshops, and breakout sessions. Above all we look forward to fruitful conversations and productive dialogue with attendees this summer and a more Inclusive Astronomy community going forward.  

Anticipated conference sponsors include the National Science Foundation, the American Astronomical Society, and the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). We expect to be able to support travel costs for a number of early-career attendees.  More information about registration, childcare grants, travel support, and the meeting program will be posted on our website soon and you can reach us via email at: inclusiveastronomy2015@vanderbilt.edu.  

The organizers of the Inclusive Astronomy meeting have included:

Carolyn Brinkworth 
Adam Burgasser 
Kim Coble 
Meredith Hughes 
Nia Imara 
Jedidah Isler 
John Johnson 
Bonnie Meinke 
Jessica Mink 
Nick Murphy 
Smadar Naoz 
Dara Norman
Chanda Hsu Prescod-Weinstein
Jane Rigby
Keivan Stassun 

The LOC members are Jillian Bellovary, Andreas Berlind, Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, Rodolfo Montez, Jr., Keivan Stassun, Dina Stroud, and David Weintraub.