Equality, Diversity and Inclusion within the Geosciences

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July 2020 will see the delivery of the inaugural webinar for the AGS with Dr Nick Koor introducing the subject of Urban Geoscience.

Nick is currently Associate Head of Research and Innovation at the University of Portsmouth in the School of Environment, Geography and Geoscience.

He is an Engineering Geologist who teaches Geomechanics to both Undergraduate and Postgraduate students. Prior to being an academic Nick worked within industry for 22 years on major Civil Engineering and Building Engineering projects in both the UK and Asia. He leads an Industrial Working Group for the University Geoscience UK committee tasked with understanding the changing landscape in geoscience careers and; translating this into what an “industry ready” geoscience graduate should look like.

As a bit of background to the webinar, the AGS is a member of Ground Forum which is an organisation which represents the majority of UK ground related associations and bodies and which also has representation from academia. Ground Forum is also our lobbying body as it has representation on the Construction Industry Council which sits on a number of government steering committees.

The decline of geoscience undergraduates has been on Ground Forum’s agenda for a number of years and recently Nick has been representing the University Geoscience UK group within Ground Forum. The AGS has also been working with Nick and the UGUK Industry panel which has been set up and through that forum a number of Webinars have been organised through the Geological Society of London. The discussions have involved a wide range of contributors including teachers, lecturers, post-grads, experienced practitioners, early career practitioners and geoscientists who have recently graduated. The discussions have driven the educational establishments within geoscience to review their offering and also how geoscience is perceived within society.

Although this webinar includes within the title ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ it is not a webinar purely aimed at addressing issues of BAME representation within geosciences specifically, nor is it a direct response to the vitally important global political, social and cultural movements of today. Instead it will be aiming to discuss and ultimately produce a more nuanced, rounded and holistic approach to geoscience education. Both industry and academia readily acknowledge that increasing diversity and promoting inclusion within geosciences has an incredibly important role to play, but there are many facets to the challenge which we hope to discuss during the course of the webinar.” During the Geological Society webinars it was clear to the educators that the geoscience offering requires an overhaul and the subject of Urban Geoscience could be one part of the strategy which could have an impact. Without intervention this may or may not happen organically but we have an opportunity to engineer this into the offering and create a geoscience subject which appeals to a wider section of our community and which will positively benefit industry and therefore AGS members.

In response to some of the recent social media posts, the AGS is very pleased to be involved with an initiative which seeks to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in geoscience. The AGS has an ongoing initiative to support ground engineering professional qualifications and is looking to support academia in developing innovative teaching methods and content which can open up the industry to a wider community. The AGS is a not for profit trade association which is managed by elected individuals from member organisations, none of whom are paid by the AGS. The trade association was established to promote the industry and to address the commercial, safety and quality aspects of the member’s activities and recognises that equality, diversity and inclusion are an important aspect of those activities. The AGS is also actively working with Ground Forum to set up a relationship with STEER Support & Mentoring CIC in respect of supporting the mentoring of BAME and female students.

This webinar and other initiatives are small steps which AGS can make to positively address equality, diversity and inclusion but are part of a much bigger initiative and strategy across the construction sector which AGS and their members will play their part.

The webinar – Urban Geoscience – Opening up the industry to a more inclusive and diverse community is available to view again on the AGS website here.

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