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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

NE CASC Statement on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Over much of the past year, NE CASC has engaged in a wide-ranging discussion to determine how we can best help create a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just community of scholars, practitioners and stakeholders. This self-appraisal has resulted in a variety of actions to advance our goal.

In response to the events surrounding the police killing of George Floyd last May, many members of our team took part in a national day of reflection to examine how we could contribute to the growing movement to dismantle the machinery of white supremacy and pursue a more just society. This reflection resulted in a brief statement that, in part, expressed our commitment to "heightening our awareness of systemic racism and disproportionate impacts of climate change on Black communities, Latino communities, Native American Tribal/First Nations, communities of color, and immigrant communities or any community where poverty and inequity compound the impacts of climate change."

To begin demonstrating this commitment, we later hired three graduate assistants to lead projects that have proven immensely beneficial in advancing our diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives. Specifically, these projects were conceived and implemented to facilitate greater engagement between NE CASC and Tribal entities, promote a deeper understanding of environmental racism among NE CASC researchers and staff, develop stronger connections between NE CASC and underrepresented students, and investigate the extent to which minority populations in Massachusetts are disproportionately impacted by climate change. Last January, a team comprised of NE CASC principal investigators, staff, and fellows collaborated to create a course, "Indigenous Knowledge on Climate Adaptation Science," for students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and other nearby colleges. This course, which features a variety of guest speakers from Tribal organizations, explores the relationship between Indigenous knowledge and climate adaptation science while also creating new connections between NE CASC personnel and representatives from a variety of Indigenous communities.

Most recently, we have created a committtee that will play a major role in leading our efforts to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. This committee--which is led by Asha Ajmani, Bethany Bradley, Bianca Lopez, and Toni Lyn Morelli--has solicited input from NE CASC principal investigators and staff to develop a statement that fully expresses our vision for pursuing climate and social justice. We are pleased to share it with you below and look forward to reporting on our future efforts in these critically important areas. 

NE CASC Statement on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justic
As leaders in climate adaptation science in the Northeast, we aspire to create a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just community of scholars, practitioners, and stakeholders. However, we have a long way to go. First, successfully adapting to climate change will require the insights, ingenuity, and effort of all people, especially those who have historically been excluded from climate conversations. Therefore, the NE CASC and its consortium of universities are committed to recruiting, including, and supporting voices from groups underrepresented at all levels of climate adaptation science. Including and centering these voices improves climate adaptation by expanding the breadth and depth of our expertise, perspective, and understanding of the issues and the solutions. Second, successfully adapting to climate change will require climate justice. Climate change disproportionately affects Black, Indigenous, and people of color as poverty and inequity compound its impacts. We are committed to deeply and authentically engaging with and elevating leaders from communities disproportionately impacted by climate change and co-producing adaptation science that addresses their natural and cultural resource needs. We are committed to educating ourselves and our network about climate justice. Together, these actions will begin to restructure the culture and community of climate adaptation science to make our work more inclusive and effective.