Building Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Ocean Sciences


In December 2023, The Oceanography Society (TOS) plans to publish a special issue of Oceanography on “Building Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Ocean Sciences.” As guest editors, we are seeking initial community interest in contributing articles to this special issue. Details on specific topics are provided below. We ask that you forward this invitation to other individuals who might be interested in participating.

Letters of interest should be emailed to Oceanography editor Ellen Kappel ([email protected]) by November 1, 2022, and should contain the following:

  • A summary of the content of the proposed paper (no more than 200 words)
  • Potential authorship and affiliations
  • Identify which topic your article would fit under (see below)
  • Proposed length (see below for specific words counts for different articles)
  • Contact information

Notice of whether you will be invited to contribute an article will be sent by December 15, 2022. Further information on deadlines is provided at the end of this invitation.


The special issue has three main goals: (1) to serve as a resource for building diversity, equity, and inclusion in the ocean sciences; (2) to inspire people and institutions to earnestly review practices and commit to meaningful positive changes to achieve a truly equitable, inclusive, and diverse ocean sciences field; and (3) to encourage scholars from underrepresented and marginalized groups to become and remain ocean scientists.

We aspire to publish a compendium that includes manuscripts written by individuals and groups that showcase the perspectives of diverse scientists, students, program managers, cultural practitioners, and educators who are engaged in initiatives and programs with diverse communities in a variety of areas of ocean science. An important discussion will be the structural and cultural barriers to entry, participation, success, and retention in the field. Successful strategies to engage, recruit, retain, support, and advance individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds will be highlighted with the goal of assembling a critical resource for changing the dominant academic and workforce culture.


As an open-access journal, all articles will be openly available to the public on the Oceanography website at the time of publication. Paper copies will be mailed to TOS members, and a limited number of copies will be available for non-TOS members to order.


There will be no cost to authors for publishing articles in this special issue. Copy editing, design, and print and web distribution is supported by grants from the US National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research (ONR), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


We are seeking letters of interest within the following specific topical areas:

TOPIC 1. Numbers and Trends: What Do the Data Tell Us?

One or more articles will provide an evaluation of NSF and other data that show the ethnic breakdown of master’s and doctoral degrees awarded in the ocean sciences over the past few decades. It will include NOAA data on the diversity in their programs, as well as data from NASA, if available. The article will discuss the trends, illustrating demographic shifts in society that are not reflected in the ocean and ocean-related sciences. We welcome the inclusion of diversity data from non-US countries. Note that the journal has already published two special issues devoted to women and gender issues, one in 2005 and another in 2014, and that this new effort is focused on ethnic diversity. However, data on intersectionality would also be of interest.

Word count: No more than 6000 words and six figures

TOPIC 2. Barriers to Entry, Persistence, Advancement, and Success

We are seeking one to two multiple-author articles that discuss the barriers to entry, persistence, advancement, and success for underrepresented and marginalized groups at the institutional, programmatic, departmental, and/or procedural level. As barriers can be ubiquitous and pervasive at all levels, starting with academic experiences through workforce career trajectories, please include effective strategies that institutions, programs, and individuals can employ to identify and mitigate these barriers. Include examples that showcase successes in academia and/or the workforce (i.e., all ocean science sectors, including government, private, and/or nonprofit).

Word count: No more than 6000 words and six figures.

We are seeking a full-length article that discusses how to build an effective support structure internally and externally across institutions and programs for scholars and employees from underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds. The article will cover why diversity efforts cannot begin and end with recruitment, and will include a discussion of the need for long-term support structures and systems that catalyze retention efforts (such as inclusive onboarding practices, mentoring involving faculty and peer-to-peer relationships, building professional networks, providing professional learning, development, and advancement opportunities). Effective strategies for leadership development and advancement within the ocean science workforce are of interest as well. We anticipate the authors will invite a sidebar in this article that tackles the issue of how to become an effective ally.

Full article word count: No more than 6000 words and six figures. Sidebar word count: No more than 1000 words and one figure.

We are seeking to publish several sidebars or spotlights that cover a range of topics related to barriers to inclusion. Example topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Why language matters and continues to evolve: who is setting the language (and driving the conversations) and the role words and language play in shaping our identities, building upon the TOS JEDI column on inclusive language by Craig and Bhatt (2021).
  • The professional, societal, and organizational benefits of choosing to work on diversity, equity, and inclusion-specific issues
  • The need to shift value structures in ocean science so that JEDI work is valued equitably with the science, as well as all other aspects of our academic/work portfolio (i.e., inclusion of JEDI efforts in tenure and promotion requirements, workforce performance plans, and/or grant awards and funding announcements)
  • The compounding impacts of intersectionality
  • Intellectual, emotional, and health “cost” of underrepresented and marginalized scholars at predominantly white institutions and in the workforce
  • The role of family/culture in shaping the course of diverse individuals in the profession
  • Racial/gender/sexual harassment and assault, from unconscious microagressions to intentional attacks
  • Ways in which underrepresented and marginalized scholars learn about ocean science careers before entering college and while they are enrolled; identify the gaps in awareness of careers in ocean sciences for students, faculty, and administrators and offer solutions to fill the gaps

Sidebar or spotlight word count: No more than 1000 words and one figure. Extensions to the word and figure count will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

TOPIC 3. A Look at Some Federally Funded Programs

We anticipate an opening article by federal program managers who discuss agency motivations and goals in funding programs aimed at increasing diversity in the ocean sciences. What types of programs are they funding? What are examples of new trends and innovations they are seeing? Which goals have been met? Can they speculate about the reasons for successes or failures to meet program objectives? Are there new programs on the horizon? How has their thinking about their programs evolved, and what has been done internally at the agencies to address needs?

Word count: No more than 6000 words and six figures.

We anticipate including six short articles plus several one- and two-page sidebars and spotlights that showcase the range of federally funded programs aimed at increasing diversity in the ocean sciences, including the workforce. These articles will address the external facing side of their program as well as the internal culture of running their particular type of program. Below are some examples of information that the articles might include.

For student programs:

  • What are the program motivations, grade level of students targeted, and length of program?
  • How are students and mentors recruited?
  • Are training and support provided for mentors and mentees?
  • Are the students fully funded (e.g., stipend, travel, housing, meals)?
  • What types of activities do the students engage in?
  • Are course credits offered?
  • How are the program outcomes evaluated?
  • Lessons learned. What would you do differently next time to increase success? What was successful?

Programs that aim to diversify the workforce and faculty/staff in academia:

  • How are faculty, staff, and additional members of the ocean science workforce recruited and retained within a program or workplace? Discuss new hiring mechanisms and effectiveness of “cohort hires” and other best practices.
  • How are you diversifying reviewer pools and hiring/selection panels?
  • Provide examples of effective strategies you have used to mitigate barriers to entry, persistence, advancement, and leadership.
  • Describe any education programs you have employed with built-in “’bridge to employment/faculty” components.
  • Demonstrate the importance of mentorship, sponsorship, and allyship.
  • Has your department reimagined the promotion/tenure process and advancement potential in the workforce? What does it look like now?
  • What programs do you have for Inclusive faculty/workforce/leadership development?

Short article word count: No more than 3000 words and three figures. Sidebar word count: No more than 1000 words and one figure.

TOPIC 4. Other Initiatives

We anticipate that this chapter will open with a collaborative article contributed by societies (e.g., TOS, AGU, ASLO) that discusses what they have done in the past, are doing now, and plan to do in the future to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the ocean sciences. The article will provide examples of successes and identify ways in which individuals can get involved in their programs.

Word count: No more than 6000 words and six figures.

We are seeking a second article that reviews place-based culturally relevant strategies in oceanography and more broadly in geoscience. We are also interested in considering articles that explore how place-based education has changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, how have groups integrated place-based education into distance and online learning, whether that’s created more flexibility for different audiences, and what examples/experiences have been successful.

Word count: No more than 6000 words and six figures.

In this chapter, we would like to include several one- or two-page articles that describe the motivations and accomplishments of, and lessons learned by, grassroots programs and affinity groups in promoting justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the ocean sciences. We are interested in programs started by people at all stages of their careers, including students, and in all types of work environments (e.g., academia, government, industry, nonprofit).

Sidebar word count: No more than 1000 words and one figure. Extensions to the word and figure count will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

TOPIC 5. Your Ideas

We may not have captured all of the important issues and efforts in the four major categories listed above. If you have a topic that might be an important contribution to this special issue, please send us a short (no more than 200 words) description.


If you have questions about this supplement, please contact Oceanography editor Ellen Kappel ([email protected]). 


  • Expression of interest: November 1, 2022
  • Confirmation of contribution: December 15, 2022
  • First draft: July 1, 2023
  • Expected publication date: December 2023

We look forward to hearing from you! 

Special Issue Guest Editors
Ben Cuker, Corey Garza, Deidre Gibson, Catalina Martinez, Wendy F. Todd (Smythe), and Cassie Xu 

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