Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in Graduate Astronomy Education
History: At the January 2017 AAS meeting in Texas, the AAS Council (now the AAS Board of Trustees) approved the creation of a Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in Graduate Astronomy Education. This document details the charge, goals, membership, structure, and activities of the task force.
Chairs: This current Task Force is co-chaired by Alex Rudolph and Gibor Basri.
Charge: The final report from this task force to the AAS Board of Trustees should include:
- the consideration of practices in recruiting, admissions, and retention of students into programs that offer astronomy-related Masters degrees and PhDs, with the goal of identifying those practices that promote diversity and inclusion in graduate programs with regard to race and ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+, disability status, and possibly other areas;
- the building of consensus on evidence-based best practices for recruitment, admissions, mentoring, retention, and (to the extent feasible) curriculum and outcome optimization of a diverse student population in astronomy graduate programs that closely matches the diversity of the US;
- the development of a statement of best practices for potential adoption by the AAS;
- the development of guidelines to help astronomy graduate programs who wish to implement these best practices do so; and
- the development of recommendations for ongoing data collection from graduate programs in astronomy, in order to assess progress in increasing diversity in graduate programs and also in the astronomical field in general.
The final report of this task force, as well as the data that will be collected in the course of the work by the task force, will be shared, utilized, and/or incorporated with the current or subsequent work of a broader AAS task force on graduate education, which the AAS is still working to form, and which will address in greater detail, issues such as curriculum and teaching methods.
The work of the task force will take place from October 2017 to December 2018 and the task force will deliver its report to the AAS Board of Trustees in time for the report to be discussed at the January 2019 Board meeting.
Goals: The goals of the task force will be:
- the strengthening of a consensus on evidence-based best practices for recruitment, admissions, and retention of a diverse student population for US astronomy PhD programs that more closely matches the diversity of the United States;
- the development of a statement of these best practices for adoption by the AAS Board of Trustees;
- taking the work already begun through the “Inclusive Astronomy” process to the next level by documenting existing implementations of these best practices, and gaining firm commitments from other key players to implement some of the AAS recommendations; and
- the development of recommendations (with selected initial implementations) for ongoing data collection to monitor progress in increasing diversity in astronomy.
Statement (June 2018): Our goal in putting together the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in Graduate Astronomy Education was to include representation from the four diversity committees, across career stages, and from a range of institutions (R1, MSI/HSI, etc.). The task force was limited to eight members, so we knew that we could not possibly represent all relevant identities. The final composition of the committee was done in consultation with and the approval of the chair of SGMA. In the next few weeks, we will be bringing our draft recommendations to each diversity committee for their direct feedback to get input from all stakeholders.