A path leads between tall grasses towards the ocean. The sky is blue and mostly cloudless. Footprints are visible in the sandy path.

New Report on Taking Action for DEI in California’s Ocean Sciences

Braided Strategies to Advance Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in CA's Coastal and Ocean Sciences

 
By Melissa Abderrahim
 

We are pleased to release the final proceedings report from our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Roundtable Series, titled “Pathways to Advance DEI in California Coastal and Ocean Sciences“.

In the winter of 2021-2022, OST brought together key actors of California’s coastal and ocean science community, including representatives from higher education institutions, a variety of funding programs, and individuals from across the career system. Over the course of five integrative Roundtable events, participants produced bold ideas, rethinking the current paradigm and holding themselves and the broader coastal and science community accountable to lasting institutional and cultural change.

The final report reflects the collaborative exchanges that took place and outlines key goals, strategies, and recommendations. As we synthesized the outcomes of the Roundtable Series, we were able to identify three ‘braided strategies’ that are intertwined and should be advanced in unison:

  • Strategy 1: Prioritize Sustained Investment for System Change
  • Strategy 2: Support an Accountable & Equitable Coastal and Ocean Science Community
  • Strategy 3: Foster Community & Connection in the Coastal and Ocean Sciences

The final report is intended to serve as a resource for the roundtable series participants, as well as individuals, groups, organizations, and institutions committed to furthering the advancement of DEI in the coastal and ocean sciences and beyond.

Our Evolving Process & Next Steps

The original aim of this initiative was to identify success factors for advancing DEI and develop replicable frameworks to implement at other universities or STEM fields. While the report does outline recommendations for successfully advancing DEI, the Roundtable Series expanded into something more.

This initiative exceeded expectations by building a community of students, faculty, ocean science professionals, funders, university staff, recent graduates and post-docs dedicated to advancing DEI in California’s coastal and ocean sciences. While designing this Roundtable Series, it was important for us to foster community among the participants and create a sense of trust and safety at each convening. Participants connected with one another, shared their backgrounds and experiences, and at times, discussed deeply personal and painful experiences. By finding comfort in knowing that other like-minded individuals were working to advance DEI efforts, participants were able to envision a more inclusive, welcoming, culturally relevant, and equitable future. Through a series of activities, and by focusing on the aspirations of what can be accomplished while recognizing the current and historical barriers faced by historically excluded groups, participants produced cross-cutting and innovative ideas for California’s coastal and ocean sciences.

However, essential voices and perspectives were missing from the roundtable discussions: no individuals who self-identified as Black/African American/African or Native American/American Indian/Indigenous participated in the Faculty Perspective or Student & Postdoc roundtable events. We are committed to learning from this process and developing more inclusive and equitable opportunities to support the advancement of DEI in California’s coastal and ocean science community. We aim for this initiative to serve as a catalyst to increase DEI in the coastal and ocean sciences and, most importantly, to grow the community of leaders engaged in these efforts.

We commit to continue contributing to the strategies and recommendations outlined in our final report, and we encourage the roundtable series participants and others to continue taking action toward building a more inclusive and equitable future.

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