December 2021 AGU Council meeting wrap-up


By Michael Mischna, President, Planetary Sciences Section

The AGU Council members met ahead of Fall Meeting 2021. The group discussed the types and diversity of science that AGU represents, the importance of an inclusive culture and general updates. Highlights included:

  • Fall Meeting 2021: As of the December Council meeting prior to #AGU21, about 22,580 people had registered for the meeting, with about 10,000 registered to attend in-person in New Orleans. As of mid-January, more than 23,000 people registered to attend #AGU21, with more than 9,000 attending in-person in New Orleans and more than 14,000 attending online.
  • OSM22: The Ocean Sciences Meeting, which begins in February, will be fully virtual, as Hawaii does not have the infrastructure and capability to host an event of our size in February.
  • Financials: A $53 million operating budget has been approved by AGU’s Board. AGU raised $13,000 on Giving Tuesday, and $67,000 in November. AGU has revamped its net assets and spending policies. The goal is to make sure we have enough reserves to cover a full year of operating expenses without other income.  We also want to make sure the current AGU community has resources for strategic investments, while money is available for future boards and councils to do the same.
  • Inclusive Scientific Culture: Council members held a discussion in support of AGU’s strategic goal on inclusive scientific culture. Why do we choose to be inclusive and promote diversity (besides the fact it is the right thing to do)? And, how do we go from aspirations to implementation of a truly inclusive scientific culture? This is what the Council is seeking to accomplish. To do so, we need, among other things, to ensure wide access to scientific data, methods, research and other associated outputs, as well as to have broad opportunities to conduct scientific research in a safe, funded and supportive environment. Questions Council members considered included: Who’s not in this conversation? Who do we need to add? Who is being impacted by the decisions we (as scientists) make? The Council will be revising the current membership and affiliation models to bring in these missing perspectives, be they of individuals, organizations or other potential partners, and evolving our governance model to better reflect the changing nature of AGU’s role in both discovery and solution-based science.
  • Position statements process: The position statement process has been modified to give the Council more of an opportunity for input before approval. The member comment period will now be timed with Board and Council meetings, so that volunteer leaders will have an opportunity to discuss the statements without being rushed. The Council approved two updated position statements on Government Investment in Earth and Space Science Research and the Rights and Responsibilities of Scientists.
  • Revising AGU Honors: The Council discussed an audit of AGU’s Honors program, with some feedback already received from AGU and Council members. The group examined the purpose of the program, the target audience, designing new aspects of the program from non-traditional points of view, and what inclusion and equity could look like in the program going forward. Outcomes from the discussion have been sent to the Honors and Recognition Committee to initiate the process of auditing and potentially rebuilding or restructuring the AGU honors program. The Council also discussed ways to increase participation and engagement for 2022, empowering section canvassing committees with increased training, broadening AGU staff dialogue with section leaders and providing clarity on how to deal with recognition at the boundaries of sections.

And then, to bury an earworm into the brains of everyone in attendance, and to ensure the Council would remember the focus of #AGU21 forever more, a rousing rendition of our 2021 theme, Science Is Society, was sung to the tune of ‘Baby Shark’ (doo doo doodoo doodoo…)

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