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DiG-UK: Where we came from, where we are now, and where we’re going….

INAUGURAL BLOG by Alison Stokes

A very warm welcome to our new DiG-UK blog series. Over the coming months we’ll be posting a range of articles exploring different aspects of, and perspectives on, diversity in Geoscience. To kick things off, and in celebration of the 5th anniversary of DiG-UK’s launch, I’m reflecting here on how DiG-UK came about, our progress and achievements to date, and looking ahead to where we go from here.

The idea for a UK-based network / organisation focused on supporting access and inclusion in the geosciences was seeded during conversations with Chris Atchison, Brett Gilley and other members of the fledgling IAGD (International Association for Geoscience Diversity) at a number of Geological Society of America Annual Meetings in the late 2000s-early 2010s. Ideas were consolidated during the IAGD accessible fieldtrip to Vancouver in 2014. With support from the Geological Society of London, a one day meeting on accessible fieldwork in June 2015 brought together a diverse range of people from education, local government, professional bodies and industry, all interested in supporting geoscientists with disabilities in fieldwork. This event was the springboard for further conversations that culminated in June 2018 with the formal launch of DiG-UK as the first international chapter of the IAGD, and the founding of a small but dedicated committee who helped to establish DiG-UK’s financial and administrative foundations, and its charitable status. 

We decided early on that we wanted to take a broad view of diversity and inclusion, and DiG-UK aims to raise awareness of the challenges faced by a wide range of under-represented groups, including groups defined by gender, race and ethnicity, disability, mental health, sexuality, and social class. We believe that everyone should be able to fulfil their potential and access education and career paths of their choice, without barriers to participation. 

Since then we’ve continued to grow our network and build community through our social media channels (check out the ‘Contact Us‘ page), a JISC mailing list (check out the ‘Become a Member‘ page), and co-badged events. We’ve given talks and delivered workshops, provided representation on EDI-facing projects and committees, and made valuable connections with other interest groups focused on enhancing access, and inclusion and diversity in geoscience. 

Unsurprisingly activity stalled somewhat during 2019-2021 as the Covid pandemic diverted peoples’ priorities and energies elsewhere. However, as devastating as this time was, the need to fundamentally change the way in which geoscience was taught and practiced generated a groundswell of interest and activity in addressing the needs of a diverse geoscience community. The Nature Geoscience article by Bernard and Cooper (2018) shows that in some aspects of diversity there is still a lack of real progress even after 40 years. The learning and resources generated during this time, although not a direct result of DiG-UK activity, reflect DiG-UK’s core mission to “promote equality and diversity for the public benefit by  raising awareness of, and providing resources to support, access to education and careers in the Earth sciences and related disciplines in the UK”

So, where do we go from here? Our most important achievement has been to establish a network of awareness, and we’ll continue to focus on growing this network and supporting our community to spread awareness and advocate for diversity in geoscience at every opportunity. We have also compiled an extensive collection of resources relating to different aspects of geoscience diversity, and these can be accessed on our web site If you have any suggestions for new resources to add to the collection please get in touch. We are also looking for contributors to this blog so if you have an idea for a short piece elating to any aspect of geoscience diversity, again, please get in touch. Ultimately, we are a finite resource and there are two key challenges that we currently face:

  1. Identifying priorities: There is a LOT that needs to be done in terms of enhancing and supporting diversity in geoscience, so where should we place our focus? Where is the need greatest right now?
  2. Capacity: We need motivated people with the energy and capacity to drive forward future activities and initiatives. 

Ultimately DiG-UK exists to serve our community so the future of DiG-UK will be what our community makes it. We warmly invite you to be a part of that future!

Get in Touch!