13 October 2021

AAS to Establish a Working Group on Ethics

Paula Szkody

Paula Szkody University of Washington, Seattle

AAS President's Message

I and other AAS Board of Trustees and Division members continue to receive emails asking what the AAS is doing on several issues that are prominent in the news and especially on social media. These include co-authors on journal articles, holding meetings in specific states, naming rights for various objects and places, etc. Please be assured that we are aware of these issues and are seeking the best path forward for a general consensus on what the overall policy of the AAS should be. There are limitations on what we are capable of doing, as well as differences in opinion among our membership. To reach this consensus, we are currently working on the following:

  1. Establishing a Working Group on Ethics that will attempt to formulate this overall policy as well as respond to individual events as they occur in the future. This was approved by the Board at our October meeting last week, and the working group can begin meeting to work on the current issues.
  2. Holding a splinter session at the AAS January meeting in Salt Lake City that will include a panel explaining the procedures and limitations of our current ethics policy and a discussion with attendees as to AAS's expected reach on global and societal issues.

As you can imagine, these are complex problems; and as a professional society, we cannot always respond swiftly while balancing all the needs of our diverse membership. We want to formulate a policy that will provide guidance for member expectations as well as a path forward to help implement changes that will advance our mission — to enhance and share humanity's scientific understanding of the universe as a diverse and inclusive astronomical community. I hope to hear your views in Salt Lake City or via email if you cannot be there.