Soils underpin human society, providing the foundation upon which we build our communities and supply our needs. As such, soil science is incredibly important in forging a sustainable future for all. However, soil science is sadly not representative of the wealth of human experience, lacking in diversity and often remaining ignorant of the historical legacies that shape our work. We want to work together to address these issues, helping to raise awareness of how we can build a more equitable and diverse community and providing resources for everyone to use. As a starting point we have created a pledge which sets out the scope of what we want to do and gives us a place to start discussion and grow from.

We pledge to:

  • Cultivate a diverse and equal community within soil science
  • Be aware of our position and privilege as individuals and as members of our respective institutions
  • Educate ourselves on the historical and cultural context in which we as people and institutions operate
  • Remove barriers to engaging in soil science
  • Recognise, respect and incorporate local knowledge and interests within our work
  • Promote equity of access to our work and experience

Diverse community

To cultivate a diverse and equal community within soil science we need to act together, calling out discriminatory language and behaviour, listening and responding to issues that are raised and enacting EDI and code of conduct policies. Some of these conversations can be difficult, and we need to respect others’ effort and not “All lives matter” the conversation. Simple steps that we can do include stopping engaging in all-male, all-white, or in some way homogeneous panels; promoting the voices of underrepresented communities within soil science in our conferences and other events; and including non-English research in meta-analyses. [Read More]

Equity of access

Science has always been hard to access for non-scientists, leading to great inequalities in who is able to take advantage of scientific advantages - often funded by public money. Recently there has been more efforts towards making scientific publications and data open access for all, which we should contribute to as long it is possible. However, we must consider the rights of the individuals who contributed to this data and respect their wishes as to whether they want their data publicly available. [Read More]

Historical context

We need to educate ourselves on the historical and cultural context in which we as people and institutions operate. Soil science has historically been used as a tool of colonialism, used to suppress opposition to authoritarian regimes and evict and exploit indigenous peoples. This context raises the question of who is really benefiting from our research, and what unexpected (to us) impacts might our work be having? Further reading The very grounds underlying twentieth-century authoritarian regimes: building soil fertility in Ittalian Libya and the Brazilian Cerrado. [Read More]

Local knowledge

The importance of respecting and incorporating local knowledge. Recognise the different forms of expertise, consider the impact our work has on local communities, seek informed consent and respect local culture abiding by local written and unwritten rules. Establish collaborations that are synergistic and do not fall into “helicopter science”, incorporating capacity building components into projects. Further reading Ten simple rules for Global North researchers to stop perpetuating helicopter research in the Global South. [Read More]

Recognising privilege

Tackling inequalities requires us to consider hoe we benefit from various privileges. We can have privileges inherent in who we are as individuals but also from the institutions we are part of and take part in. This process can, and should, be uncomfortable. Further reading What is white privilege, really? Collins (2018) Link Recognise your privilege. Schyfter, P., Maxwell, E., & Tait, A. J. (2018). In J. Robertson, A. Williams, D. [Read More]

Removing barriers

Assess whether opportunities are safe for all and what could be done to mitigate risks. Ensure field course locations and housing are appropriate, safe and equitable for all identities. Plan conferences so that resources are available for those who need them, e.g. quiet rooms, childcare, financial support. Further reading Safe fieldwork strategies for at-risk individuals, their supervisors and institutions. Demery and Pipkin (2020) Nature Eco & Evo. DOI 10.1038/s41559-020-01328-5 Geography Diability Network Guides, Disability Studies Quarterly (2004) Link Mental health in the field. [Read More]