Commitment to diversity and justice

The recent deaths of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and Breeona Taylor have brought back into focus the brutal violence endured by Black people, and ignited widespread protests in the United States and worldwide. Our hearts go out to those who have lost family members and friends — and to all who persistently face and bear the terrible burdens of racism, discrimination, and inequality. The INS seeks to redress these inequalities within its own organization by removing barriers that both discourage global participation and exclude marginalized perspectives.

The scientific community has an important role to play in restraining hate and intolerance, and scientists are uniquely positioned to promote inclusion and dismantle structures of injustice that pervade our cultures and institutions. Racism is often implicitly or explicitly justified by scientific concepts and processes, so scientists have unique responsibilities in the pursuit of justice. In this political climate especially, where disinformation is a form of currency and people living in the margins risk death as a result of wide-spread willful ignorance, it falls to all researchers to push back. The pursuit of justice is especially critical in this moment, and every member of the sciences ought to contribute whatever they can — in the form of support and leadership.

A large part of being just comes in the form of recognizing and including people from underrepresented backgrounds. The INS is committed to serving as an inclusive society and to ensuring that it lives up to its long-standing commitment to supporting people of different races, ethnicities, nations of origin, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, economic statuses, ages, and disabilities. The Society remains dedicated to fostering an inclusive and diverse culture in neuroethics by actively recruiting and welcoming members whose perspectives are underrepresented in the field — especially from Africa, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia. Without these perspectives, the INS cannot call itself ‘international.’ We aim to advance justice and equity by amplifying these voices and by supporting key social justice-focused contributions to neuroethics and neuroscience more broadly.

To better ensure meaningful and measurable progress toward these aims, the Society has formed the Diversity & Inclusion Task Force. Its charge is to increase the Society's ability to promote diversity and justice within our communities, throughout the sciences and humanities, and around the world. The group's inaugural members will lead efforts to determine how best the Society can help foster a climate of inclusion, create resources for marginalized people (both within our profession and beyond), and dismantle unjust systems both in neuroethics and the neurosciences more broadly. The task force welcomes suggestions, questions, and conversations by email. Contact Robert Beets <[email protected]> to begin a conversation.

Inaugural members:

  • Tim Brown, chair, University of Washington (USA)
  • Jayashree Dasgupta, Samvedna Senior Care / Sangath (India)
  • Nicole Martinez-Martin, Stanford University (USA)
  • Rosemary Musesengwa, University of Oxford (UK)
  • Laura Specker Sullivan, Fordham University (USA)

Expected actions:

  • Develop practices to promote inclusion, equity and representation
  • Define criteria for establishing and maintaining diverse teams and programs
  • Identify opportunities and provide ideas for engaging underrepresented populations
  • Administer and evaluate results from surveys, polls, and networking activities
  • Invite diversity and inclusion experts to INS-organized events and activities

Desired impact:

  • Compose a statement on diversity and inclusion to be adopted by the Society
  • Increase diversity of the INS membership, Board, and committee participants
  • Foster discussions on diversity at events and as part of activities
  • Increase opportunities to engage with diverse audiences
  • Increase outreach to under-represented populations

The Society welcomes feedback and input from members of the neuroethics community and other individuals and organizations dedicated to racial justice, diversity, and inclusion in the sciences. To voice your thoughts, contact Robert Beets <[email protected]>.

The task force is also held a listening session on October 9, 2020.

Published: September 18, 2020