A Place for All

The Department of Earth and Oceanographic Science at Bowdoin is a place for all.

It is a place where students and scholars from all backgrounds belong, and where diverse experiences and perspectives are critically important to shaping our understanding of the natural world, the influence of humans on our world, and our future. Our work advances the understanding of geological, oceanographic, and climate processes, and we explore the complex interactions among natural processes and how they impact society.  

We recognize that historically our discipline favored white, able-bodied cis/het males at the exclusion of others. Thankfully, this disparity is being acknowledged nationally, and diversity within the discipline is now broadening. In EOS, we are taking actions to foster inclusion, equity, diversity, and accessibility within our department and in our discipline. 

We are revising our curriculum to center the experiences, histories, and contributions of historically excluded groups. In our classes, seminars, labs, and field work, we are diversifying the scholars we teach to include contributions from Black, Indigenous, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Latino/a/x scientists. We recognize that EOS research has the power to provide, or deprive, communities of resources, policies, and regulation. There is value to different ways of knowing, as well as real-world benefits for having many voices contributing to science.

We offer many ways to get involved. EOS happens in the classroom, the laboratory, and the field, and our learning activities are designed to welcome all students to all these spaces. Our classrooms are accessible to all learners and are equipped with technology that assists learning. Our laboratories are designed for equitable access, including adjustable lab benches, chairs, and accessible hoods. Our microscopy lab has two large computer monitors that project microscope data in real time, and we have specialized glasses to enhance color spectra sensitivity. Course research projects use computation and modeling to address research questions using large datasets. We have developed labs at field sites that are more accessible. We have designed field protocols to foster a sense of community and to ensure safety for all participants. 

We are opening up the canon of what we consider seminal research in our field. Earth science and oceanography have implications for communities around the world. Some of society’s greatest challenges include interpreting and predicting Earth’s response to climate change, all of which disproportionately impacts populations that over time have been segregated and marginalized to more vulnerable geographic areas. Both nationally and globally, Indigenous, Black, and Latinx communities are also disproportionately impacted by natural resource extraction. Addressing these issues will require the talents of many people who can contribute a wide range of insights and knowledge. 

We are broadening the types of questions we ask, pushing past the boundaries of what has traditionally been considered science: What steps do we need to take to manage fresh water supplies for humanity now and in the future? How can we feed a growing population and provide a sustainable supply of energy? How does the current rate of change compare with the past, and what have been the consequences of change in the past? How do we help cultivate climate resilience, especially for those who are most vulnerable? 

We are preparing students—as future scientists, policymakers, journalists, artists, and others—to address some of our world’s most pressing problems. Earth and oceanographic science is local and global; it is of the past, present, and future. It is a place where everyone belongs. We are committed to bringing Black, Indigenous, and other individuals who have been historically excluded from our discipline to the forefront of our study in classes, labs, seminars, and fieldwork, and to focusing on actions that will contribute to a future that is equitable and just.