Updates to AGU Union Medals, Awards and Prizes Program in 2024


As Chair of the AGU Honors and Recognition (H&R) Committee, I’ve had the privilege of leading a comprehensive effort to improve how we find, select and celebrate achievement in the Earth and space sciences.

Today, I am excited to announce a series of innovative updates to AGU’s Union Medals, Awards and Prizes (UMAP), which will be implemented in 2024:

  • Develop a standardized rubric to ensure Honors are reviewed in the context of AGU’s strategy and values. This rubric will…
    • Be publicly accessible with guidance for use
    • Offer built-in flexibility to reflect Honor-specific criteria
    • Include qualitative and quantitative elements
    • Embed alignment with AGU values as part of the evaluation
  • Update nomination and review processes that enhance the accessibility and equity of AGU Honors:
    • Allow for self‐nominations, in addition to the existing peer nomination process
    • Implement a two-step nomination and review process
    • Anonymize submissions in first round to promote fairer scoring and reduce bias in review
    • Transition from letters of support to form questions that support specific elements of the new standardized rubric
  • Assess alignment of Union Honors UMAP catalog with AGU’s strategic goals and values 

The changes are a culmination of nearly two years of hard work by the H&R Committee and AGU staff. As I approach my last days as Committee Chair, I’d like to thank everyone involved for their tireless effort and dedication to this important work.

AGU’s strategic plan sets a goal to “promote and exemplify an inclusive scientific culture.” I see this as more than an issue of ethics—it is essential to addressing the critical challenges that face our planet and humanity.

Our members have called for AGU Honors to live up to AGU’s commitments to embedding diversity, inclusion, equity, ethics and cultural awareness into all of our programs. We hope that these innovations, and other forthcoming updates, will begin to fulfill their expectations.

As these changes go into effect in 2024, we will continue to gather input from members. As dutiful scientists, we have committed these updates to the process of “experiment, learn, adapt,” understanding that we may need to make adjustments along the way. Right now, members can find more information by visiting our Frequently Asked Questions document.

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