Ethics

The Astrobiology Initiative is committed to the highest scientific rigor and upholds strict ethical and legal standards. Discrimination, harrassment, and intellectual dishonesty will not be tolerated. All members of our astrobiology community agree to uphold the ethics statements articulated below.

The mission of the UCSC Astrobiology Initiative is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, especially with regards to the origin, evolution, and distribution of life. The advancement of this mission requires a commitment to ethical behavior in professional activities. Herein, we articulate ethical guidelines for members and affiliates of our community.

Each of us shares responsibility for the welfare of our community. We endorse the statement of the American Physical Society that “science is best advanced when there is mutual trust, based upon honest behavior, throughout the community.” All scientists should act ethically in the conduct of their research, in teaching and education, and in relations with both members of the public and other members of the scientific community. The maintenance of a set of ethical standards for work-related conduct requires a commitment to a lifelong effort: to act ethically in one’s professional activities; to encourage ethical behavior by students, postdocs, colleagues, and employers; and to consult with others as needed regarding ethical problems and concerns.1

We adopt the following guidelines from the AAS Ethics Statement:

Diversity

The Astrobiology Initiative is committed to creating an inclusive environment for research, learning, and service. We value the merit of a diverse community of faculty, staff, and students. We recognize the challenges faced by traditionally marginalized groups in the sciences and pledge to continue to strive for and promote equity. We recognize that Astrobiology is global and combines the efforts of people from all over the world, from all walks of life, and from a plurality of backgrounds. We know diverse voices makes our science community and our research more creative, richer, and stronger. We also recognize that inclusion is critical to excellence. We are thus deeply committed to pursuing diversity in the work of our Astrobiology Initiative through the teams we create, the speakers we invite, and the collaborators with whom we work.

Black Lives Matter

The Astrobiology Initiative believes that Black Lives Matter. We participated in drafting and signing the Black Lives Matter Statement from the UCSC Astronomy Department. The statement is adapted for the Astrobiology community below.

We, the faculty, students, and staff of the UCSC Astrobiology Initiative condemn racism, injustice, and hate. The unconscionable murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other innocent Black lives at the hands of police is evidence of systemic racism and deeply-rooted social injustice that must be addressed. We mourn with our Black colleagues and students who are reminded of the marginalization and oppression that is still, today, a part of their experience. We acknowledge and deeply lament the undue burden and collective trauma that they carry.

We call for policy changes at all levels of policing that can immediately be implemented to reduce harm caused by police. We also support transformative change that moves beyond policing toward comprehensive structures for community safety. We urge campus administrators to audit campus police funding and resource allocations with such changes in mind. We condemn the unnecessary use of police force as was seen in the February 2020 graduate student strikes and hold these events as additional evidence that change is required.
We recognize that systemic racism is endemic to academia. This is evidenced in the under-representation of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and Persons of Color) faculty, especially in STEM fields. This is evidenced in the absence of Black faculty in our own departments. We hear the voices of Black colleagues and students across the nation and at home describing their experiences of persistent microaggressions, macroaggressions, and structural biases that perpetuate and institutionalize exclusion.

We affirm a commitment to anti-racist practices that ensure every present and future member of our community feels valued and knows they belong. We pledge to take a critical look at hiring and graduate student admissions processes. We pledge to educate ourselves with regards to racism and to learn how to be active allies. We will critically examine the metrics we use to measure academic and professional success and better understand how they racially discriminate. We will identify the ways that important contributions to our science by persons of color have gone unnoticed. We will seek input from diverse perspectives and amplify the voices of those who are routinely silenced.

This list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it sufficient. Rather, it represents a work in progress and our continuing pledge to do better.

 

1. Adapted from the preamble to the Ethics Statement provided by the American Astronomical Society (AAS)

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