Diversity with EFI and How You Can Get Involved

Date: June 18, 2020

Post by: The EFI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group

The Ecological Forecasting Initiative, like many other organizations, calls for justice for George Floyd and countless other Black individuals and persons of color, and we stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues and friends saying #BlackLivesMatter. Our EFI Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Working Group is committed to listening, learning, and exploring ways to promote anti-racism and to make EFI, and STEM fields more broadly, a welcoming environment. In regards to ecological forecasting, as a first step, we need the input and experience from people of all backgrounds at all stages of the ecological forecasting process, from forecast development and implementation to stakeholder decisions. Ecological forecasting as a field is relatively new; creating an inclusive, anti-racist field starts with understanding the lived experiences of all types of forecasters, end-users, and community stakeholders. We have more in-depth initiatives and tasks associated with the current NSF funded EFI-RCN grant and other proposals submitted for review, but for now, the following are four ways we invite you to get involved by joining the group, using or adding to our Bibliography of resources, filling out a short 5-minute survey, or joining our book club.

Of all the EFI Working Groups, our DEI Group has the smallest number of participants. We welcome anyone who is interested in participating to learn more about ways to expand diversity and inclusion as well as brainstorming ways to increase diversity within the ecological forecasting field. Our next call is June 30 and upcoming monthly meetings are posted on the EFI’s DEI webpage, as is our Strategic Plan, which is a living document that provides an overview of the steps the DEI Working Group is taking to promote diversity, accessibility, and inclusion in EFI. Email eco4cast.initiative@gmail.com to be added to the mailing list for this group.

If you are not able to join the Working Group calls at this time, there are additional ways to get involved. We are compiling a Bibliography that provides resources for learning more about anti-racism and the diversity status of fields relevant to ecological forecasting. These resources include lists of minority supporting associations, links to diversity and inclusion plans from professional societies, blog posts, publications, and compiled lists of resources from other organizations. This is also a living document, to which we will add additional documents moving forward. If there are additional resources you have found useful, they can be submitted through this Google form.

As part of Step 1 of our Strategic Plan, “Identify and clarify the problem”, we are working to identify the current status of diversity within fields relevant to ecological forecasting as a baseline to assess the current status of diversity within the Ecological Forecasting Initiative, specifically. Once we assess the current diversity status of EFI, our next goal is to provide suggestions to ecological forecasting labs about ways to recruit more diverse students into our undergraduate and graduate programs.
To assess the current status of diversity within fields relevant to ecological forecasting we are using the NSF funded NCSES Interactive Data Tool IPEDS database of the racial and ethnic backgrounds of students that have graduated from US institutions in over 400 academic programs. We have narrowed down the list to 29 academic degrees and are asking for your help to rank the relevance of these degrees to ecological forecasting in this short survey (https://nd.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3Pdyo1bh5OG8R93). Once we know which academic degrees are most relevant to ecological forecasting, we can assess the current diversity of those degrees relative to EFI. We will then work on Step 2 of our Strategic Plan, “Identify barriers that may prevent students from underrepresented groups from participating in ecological forecasting.”

To encourage open, honest conversation and anti-racist thinking, EFI will host its first virtual book club. We will begin with The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us by Paul Tough. Tough’s book explores privilege in higher education, from the application process to the classroom. As many forecasters are educators and participants in higher education, we believe this book will serve the interests of EFI’s mission while helping participants grow in anti-racist values. The book club is open to all participants, regardless of EFI membership, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or any other personal identity – we ask only that you participate with an open mind and a willingness for vulnerability. For those who would like to participate but need help acquiring the book, we have a limited amount of financial assistance available. Email eco4cast.initiative@gmail.com for more info.
Logistics: The book club will meet weekly, in the evenings, starting the week of July 13th, with about 40-70 pages of reading per meeting (although meeting frequency and page counts can be adjusted to meet the needs of the group). If you are interested in participating, email eco4cast.initiative@gmail.com so we can send you the doodle poll to find a day/time for the group to meet.