Anti-Racism in Astronomy and Geophysics

Anti-Racism in Astronomy and Geophysics

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Online event

This webinar is free and open to all Royal Astronomical Society Fellows.

About this event

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) is hosting an anti-racism workshop for fellows on 9th August. Join us for an interactive afternoon covering the fundamentals of anti-racism led by three leaders in this area.

For inclusivity we will be recording the talks (all discussions will not be recorded). If you are unable to attend the event live, please sign up for the event and you will receive the recording after the event.

Hosts: Aine O’Brien and Helen Jermak, with introduction and welcome by RAS President Emma Bunce

Speakers: JC Holbrook, Addison Barnett, and Divya Persaud

Where is race, racism and discrimination in astrophysics/astronomy?

1pm JC Holbrook (they/them), STIS, University of Edinburgh,

Holbrook is a Marie Skłodowska Curie Fellow in Science, Technology & Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh and has previously held positions in science policy in Washington DC, and an academic position in the Physics Department at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. Their project, ASTROMOVES, is a detailed study of how astrophysicists navigate their careers while circulating through Europe/UK. They shifted to building an expertise in indigenous astronomy focused on Africans after their PhD on star formation in the infrared.

Everyone would like to believe that their discipline is free from, immune from, and above existing societal issues such as racism and discrimination; however, the dearth of minoritized astrophysicists points to the truth. Holbrook’s session will be an overview of various minoritized astrophysicists’ experiences as they have navigated the discipline with the broader patterns that are revealed. These can be helpful to charting a way forward towards a more inclusive, welcoming and supportive discipline.

Anti-Racism 101

2pm Addison Barnett (he/him), Senior Inclusion and Diversity Consultant, Inclusive Employers

Addie is a Senior Consultant at Inclusive Employers. He works with organisations on complex projects including anti-racism programmes, leadership development, and strategic planning for inclusion and diversity.

Addie came to Inclusive Employers after 5 years in the homelessness sector managing frontline services and leading on LGBTQIA+ inclusion. He started his working life in Further Education sector as a teacher and teacher trainer, specialising in managing challenging behaviour. As a consultant at Inclusive Employers, Addie has particular interest in socio-economic inclusion, LGBTQ+ inclusion, mental health and incorporating intersectionality into organisations.

Join Addie for an interactive, practical session looking at anti-racism and how it is different to simply being ‘not racist’. We’ll consider how racism affects the Astronomy and Geophysics Community, how discomfort with talking about race affects all of us and how we can move forward by taking effective actions to address racism.

Race and Astronomy - exploring the colonial heritage and future of Astronomy and Geophysics

3pm Divya M. Persaud (she/her), UCL

Divya M. Persaud (she/her) is a planetary geologist, artist, speaker, and organizer. She is a postdoctoral scholar supporting the Europa Lander concept and Europa Clipper missions, and has been completing her Ph.D. at UCL, where she is applying 3D imagery to probe Martian geology. Divya has spoken and worked internationally on issues surrounding the historic and cultural contexts of space exploration. She has achieved this through her work with the JustSpace Alliance and as a co-organizer of the conference Space Science in Context, which seeks to bring together social and space scientists to address social issues pertaining to space ( Divya is passionate about bridging science, engagement, activism, and the arts.

As humanity becomes an increasingly spacefaring species, and as the technologies we use here on Earth to study the cosmos advance rapidly, there are numerous questions around community, ethics, social responsibility, and political progress that are becoming more pressing for practitioners of space science. She will be discussing the history of astronomy and space exploration as it relates to both racism in the field and global colonialism, this persisting legacy, and how we can and should find solutions together moving forward.