What is Inclusive Astronomy? 

Inclusive Astronomy is a discussion group that examines the cultural state of astronomy and STEM fields in general. We meet weekly to discuss how to make our field and our department a more inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone, including traditionally underrepresented and marginalized groups.

Examples of topics we discuss include diversity, inclusion, equity, intersectionality, unconscious bias, the confidence gap, impostor syndrome, harassment, and microaggressions. We promote the education of our department on these topics by providing training opportunities and giving annual presentations about our work.

Inclusive astronomy currently meets virtually Thursday afternoons at 4:00 p.m.

Inclusive Astronomy Outreach telescope at New Mexico Pride, October 2018 which displays a reflecting telescope during the day time.

Outreach telescope at New Mexico Pride, October 2018


Current Projects

  • Reading and discussing the Final Report of the 2018 AAS Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in Astronomy Graduate Education.
  • Developing “Story Packages”, informational resources highlighting astronomers that embody the idea that learning takes hard work and persistence, and that everyone can do astronomy. These resources are tied to the typical astronomical objects viewed at outreach, Open House, or Campus Observatory events, and will be used at these events and in our Astronomy courses.
  • Launching a recruitment campaign to more widely advertise our graduate program to minority-serving institutions.
  • Improving accessibility for our department’s Campus Observatory.
  • Developing a Climate Survey to send to current and former members of our department, to asses the department’s environment and identify areas that need the most attention.

Past Achievements

  • In March 2021, we invited representatives from the Office of Institutional Equity for a special training session on preventing Discrimination and Sexual Harassment in the workplace.
  • Developed many “Story Packages”, informational resources highlighting astronomers who embody the idea that learning takes hard work and persistence, and that everyone can do astronomy. These resources have been integrated into classes, outreach events, and public observatory nights.
  • Initiated the discussion to expand the department’s weekly journal club to include topics of inclusion and diversity once per week.
  • Members of our group have attended national conferences including the 2020 SciAccess conference on improving accessibility in STEM fields, the 2019 Inclusive Astronomy 2 conference where we presented a poster on our work, and the 2017 Women in Astronomy IV Conference discussing the issues women face in astronomy.
  • In September 2019, we invited representatives from the Aggie Health and Wellness Center for a presentation titled “Promoting Graduate Student Wellness: A Guide for Faculty and Staff” about student mental health.
  • In August 2019, we hosted a Safe Zone Training for our department in collaboration with the LGBTQ+ Programs center on campus.
  • In Spring 2018, we posted signage around the bathrooms in the astronomy building pointing towards the nearest gender neutral bathroom on campus.
  • In Fall 2018 and Fall 2019, we hosted an informal Unconscious Bias Training prior to graduate student recruitment and faculty hiring events.
  • In Fall 2018, we developed a Preferred Name & Pronouns Policy for use in astronomy courses.
  • In April 2017, we conducted a White Ally Seminar within the department. This race education workshop was designed to assist those who identify as white to serve as allies to people of color. Topics discussed in the seminar include privilege, white supremacy, racial anxiety, and allyship.
  • In March 2016 the astronomy department provided support for the J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium at NMSU on Social Justice for LGBTQ* Identities in the Borderland.
  • In April of 2015, we conducted a Safe Zone Training within the department. A Safe Zone Training is an LGBTQ+ and ally education workshop designed to assist participants to become more aware of gender and sexuality issues.
  • On March 9, 2015 our group gave a Pizza Lunch presentation to the department describing the status of underrepresented groups in astronomy, and all STEM fields, and detailed some of the issues working against the success of these groups. We covered 4 main categories: Unconscious Bias, The Confidence Gap, Microagressions, and Impostor Syndrome.
  • In the fall of 2015, we organized a meeting with Office of Institutional Equity Executive Director and Title IX Coordinator Gerard Nevarez to discuss the NMSU policy on reporting and investigating sexual harassment. This meeting was advertised and open to the whole department.

Discussion Documents

Every year, we choose one document to focus our discussions around and develop projects inspired by what we read.