Introducing the AAS Strategic Plan for 2021-26
Paula Szkody University of Washington, Seattle
First, I will share how we arrived at this plan. The Strategic Assembly (SA), the new AAS governance structure established in 2017, is composed of the Board of Trustees (BoT), the Chairs of our Divisions, and the Chairs of our Committees, and is responsible for the Society's long-term strategic direction. The SA convened during our June 2019 meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, to begin the process of strategic planning. Good progress was made six months later at the Honolulu meeting, and then the pandemic arrived, causing significant delays. Thankfully, with the help of an external consultant, the leadership of Past President Megan Donahue, and a subcommittee — consisting of the chairs of the Committee on Light Pollution, Radio Interference, and Space Debris (Jeffrey Hall) and the Committee for Sexual-Orientation & Gender Minorities in Astronomy (Rolf Danner); President-Elect Kelsey Johnson; At-Large Trustee Ed Bertschinger; and me — the SA made steady progress with more than 10 virtual meetings in the past year. A draft version of the Society’s vision, mission, values, goals, and actions was prepared and made available for review and comment from our membership at the January and June 2021 AAS virtual meetings. The dozens of constructive comments and suggestions that came in were discussed and, where possible, implemented. The revised version of the strategic plan was approved at the July 2021 BoT meeting and is available as a PDF:
As a result of this process, the AAS now has a slightly revised mission statement ("To enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe as a diverse and inclusive astronomical community"), a new vision ("To create a world where all people value and benefit from a scientific understanding of our universe"), and a set of core values (curiosity, integrity, inclusivity, empowerment, and sustainability).
The strategic plan reflects our mission and vision, continues our commitment to scientific research, and sets forth five priorities in areas where increased attention can enhance our mission:
- Address significant global issues that affect astronomy.
- Build equitable, diverse, and inclusive (EDI) practices within the astronomical community.
- Support astronomy education, professional development, and dissemination of astronomical science.
- Cultivate our network of partnerships within the AAS and with related organizations.
- Improve transparency and efficiency within the AAS.
Under each priority, there are several specific goals and actions. Every goal and action is intended to support astronomical science and particular strategic areas we believe will most benefit from focused attention.
Many people contributed to the production of this plan. We are grateful to the entire SA team and to the many staff and volunteers who participated in our strategic planning process. We are also deeply indebted to the many members of our community who make our work possible. Now we look forward to working with our community to make this strategy a reality. To achieve our goals, the BoT will work closely with the AAS staff to implement numerous projects and programs outlined in the plan over the next several years. Modifications and further action items will be added as needs arise. Guided by our shared values, the Society will be more effective than ever at enhancing and sharing humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe as a diverse and inclusive astronomical community.