AESS Calls for Racial Justice, Equity and Inclusion

AESS Calls for Racial Justice, Equity and Inclusion

The Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences is saddened and outraged by the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other Black people as part of practices operating under systemic racism and institutional injustice, including racism and persecution by law enforcement.  We write in support of the multitude of people who are suffering the harm of racial prejudice.   We write in solidarity with the protestors who are mobilizing around the world to raise awareness of the need for justice and recognition that Black Lives Matter.  We note the work of our AESS Diversity Committee and in particular our collaboration with Antioch University on the Diversity and Environment Webinar series.  On Thursday June 4, 2020, the webinar by Sarika Tandon focused on “Race and Environment” had more than 500 registrants who had the opportunity to become more educated on this important topic (slide deck and recording available here:  Antioch University Community Resilience Center website).  We also realize the magnitude of the problem and the ongoing, constant need for education and action.

The theme of our upcoming low carbon conference (July 15-17) is “Research and Action.”  We call for action toward issues of racial and environmental justice that so many of our researchers study.  The white privilege of the majority of scholars, professionals, and activists in Environmental Studies and Sciences, so strongly colors our perspective on environmental issues that AESS will not be able to be an excellent professional organization without continued attention to diversifying our organization and promoting equity and justice within our organization, our communities, our institutions, and the fields of Environmental Studies and Sciences.  Environmental issues disproportionately impact people of color and will never be satisfactorily addressed while embedded in a racially unjust system, as so compelling explained recently by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson in Racism Derails our Efforts to Save the Planet.

Working in collaboration with one another and our communities, we can make a positive difference. Our AESS Diversity Committee works to engage a broader set of voices, those of ESS professionals and students of different intersectional identities, in order to positively shape our organization (AESS Diversity Committee Charter).  They have organized an open session at our upcoming AESS Low Carbon Conference 2020 .  Antioch University and AESS are co-sponsoring upcoming Environmental Advocacy Webinars that feature talks on environmental justice and mobilizing the power of local communities and youth.  Yet, we recognize that we are not doing enough work on racial justice as an organization and that we need to continue to make steps forward.   Educating ourselves is an important ongoing measure.  In that spirit, we share some useful perspectives on AntiRacism Resources,  500 Women Scientists Take Action Black Lives Matter and  Environmentalists for Black Lives Matter.

We look forward to learning about your ideas for progress.  Please share with us at the AESS Conference or by contacting us at

-The AESS Board of Directors