The Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences department at the University of Colorado Boulder aims to promote a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive environment for all. Our department focuses on creating a culture where students, postdocs, staff, and faculty from any and all backgrounds—in particular those from underrepresented and/or historically oppressed ones—are welcomed, supported and seen as equal partners in our shared scientific goals. We recognize that part of our role as scientists and members of this community is to be fierce advocates for equality. One can not be meekly anti-oppressive. In recognition of this, we acknowledge our obligation to pursue equality. Our APS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategic plan includes specific actions in the areas of climate & culture, mentoring & support, and recruitment, and methods to hold ourselves accountable for implementing sustainable change.

APS DEI Strategic Plan

We recognize that there are concerning issues related to a lack of equity, inclusion, and diversity not only in our field, but in the community at large. Academia, particularly STEM fields, have a history of being inaccessible to many people. Long standing patterns of oppression have excluded many people (based on gender, gender identity, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and visible and invisible disability, and an individual’s status as first generation, an immigrant or veteran) from participating in scientific endeavors. 

We understand that part of our role as members of the APS department and the scientific community at large, is to actively work to remove barriers for individuals who have historically been denied access to academic and scientific communities.

The consequences of this systematic marginalization are extreme: in astronomy, for example, between 2002 and 2012, underrepresented minorities (URM, including Black/African American, Latinx/Hispanic, Indigenous) in the United States made up just 3% of astronomy doctoral students, compared to 30% of the general population (Rudolph et al. 2019). The demographics of departments like ours reflect this reality—a reality that we do not condone and are committed to change. 

We are actively working to promote a community whose members are not only aware of power, privilege, and oppression, but are actively working to dismantle the systems that perpetuate systemic oppression. 

Want to get involved?

Equity and inclusion are a focal point across the department. The group most directly focused on ensuring our department is at the forefront of anti-oppressive work is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. This committees’s mission is to help cultivate a department that welcomes, recruits, and retains great scientists who represent diverse identities, at all stages of their academic careers. Working actively to counteract systemic racism and intersecting forms of oppression in academia, we (a) seek out and learn from experts on topics related to this mission; (b) advise the department on priorities related to this mission; (c) implement actions towards achieving this mission; and (d) work closely with other committees and groups throughout APS to achieve these goals. 

Members of the commitee include graduate students, faculty, and staff in the APS department. Our current AY2023-2024 members are:

  • David Brain (Co-Chair)

  • Larry Esposito

  • Masha Kazachenko

  • Kenny

  • Kate Okun

  • Christy Lentz

If you are interested in joining the DEI committee or if you have thoughts on specific issues you would like to see addressed, please contact one of us