Ethics Working Group


Alice K. B. Monet, AAS Secretary
Alice K. B. Monet
AAS Secretary

History: The need for this working group has surfaced from the Ethics Task Force, which was established in 2018 and intended to be in operation for a limited fixed time from July 2018-July 2019. However, we have found that new situations continue to emerge that need to be addressed. While the existing Code of Ethics Committee (CoEC) serves to adjudicate cases, there is currently no body to draft and submit policy recommendations to the Board of Trustees (BOT), which is the primary purpose of the proposed Ethics Working Group (EWG).

Chair and Vice-Chair: Under normal circumstances, one of the two current BOT members on the EWG should serve as chair and the second member as vice-chair. When possible, these terms should be staggered, allowing for the vice-chair to rotate into the chair position.

Members: The chair of the EWG, president of the AAS, and chair of CoEC shall meet annually in advance of the June AAS meeting to review EWG membership, expertise, and terms and recommend candidates to fill forthcoming vacancies. Candidates must be voted on and approved by the BOT.

Term: The president of the AAS and chair of the CoEC will automatically be members of this working group during their terms. Under normal circumstances, the expected term for other members of this working group is three years, with exceptions allowed by agreement between the AAS president and chair of the CoEC. Terms may be renewed a maximum of one time sequentially.


  • Collect, reflect on, and report on the input from the Strategic Assembly regarding the Code of Ethics, the harassment system, and the publications' ethics policies.
  • As needed, to supplement or complement input from the Strategic Assembly, solicit and include contributions from other sources. These sources could be suggestions from the inclusion committees, policies of other professional societies, insights from current and former Code of Ethics committee members, and information from the AAS Office.
  • Collect input from appropriate legal, ethical, and logistical sources prior to formal specification of the recommendations. This aspect of the charge authorizes the group to ask for such input and request financial and logistical support from the AAS to accomplish this task.
  • Develop discussion questions regarding the ethics and harassment policies of the AAS that the BOT should discuss prior to developing recommendations, and work with the AAS President and Secretary to schedule these discussions over separate telecons. The splinter group would act as discussion leads, or designate appropriate discussion leads.
  • Construct, assess, organize, and prioritize recommendations for actions for consideration by the AAS BOT. Include estimated cost and timeline for implementation, if relevant.
  • Present its report to the Board of recommended actions inspired by the Strategic Assembly, to the BOT at least two weeks prior to the January 2019 in-person meeting, to allow independent deliberation by individuals prior to the in-person meeting. Interim updates are expected, but not required, during Board telecons and for the interim face-to-face meeting in the fall of 2018.

Meetings and Timelines: The EWG should nominally meet semi-annually to discuss the current state of affairs within the AAS. Additional meetings of the EWG will generally be ad hoc as policy issues arise, and members should make every effort to convene within 2 weeks of an issue coming before the EWG.

Committee Chair

Adam J. Burgasser (he/him)

University of California, San Diego

Term: Jul 2022 – Jun 2024

Committee Members

Deidre Ann Hunter (She/Her/Hers)

Lowell Observatory

Term: Jul 2022 – Jun 2024

Alison L. Coil (She/Her/Hers)

University of California, San Diego

Term: Jul 2022 – Jun 2024

Chair, Code of Ethics Committee

Charles E. Woodward (He/Him/His)

University of Minnesota

Term: Jul 2022 – Jun 2024

Patricia Knezek (She/Her/Hers)


Term: Jul 2022 – Jun 2024

Kelsey E. Johnson (She/Her/Hers)

University of Virginia

Term: Jul 2022 – Jun 2024

AAS President

Ruth Murray-Clay

University of California, Santa Cruz

Term: Jul 2022 – Jun 2024

Derrick H. Pitts (He/Him/His)

Franklin Institute Science Museum

Term: Jul 2022 – Jun 2024