CSS Anti-Racism Statement

The most recent cases of violence against Black lives have provided a stark reminder of the structural racism that pervades societies around the world. The murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are only three of the many cases of lives that have been taken as a result of systematic oppression of people of color in the United States and elsewhere.

We stand in solidarity with everyone fighting to end police brutality and its roots in systemic racism. Although they take different forms in different societies, these issues are common across the globe. We oppose racism in all its guises.

Existing Diversity and Inclusion Actions

The mission of the Cognitive Science Society is to promote Cognitive Science as a discipline, and to foster scientific interchange among researchers in various areas of study, including Artificial Intelligence, Linguistics, Anthropology, Psychology, Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Education. A key part of our mission includes increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion. As our organization has grown, we have constituted a Diversity and Inclusion Committee as a standing committee of the Governing Board. As part of our strategic plan, we allocated resources to providing travel awards to presenters from under-represented groups (both from minority groups in the US and from regions around the world that are under-represented in CSS) and to make our conference more accessible. These actions are steps in the direction of diversity and inclusivity, but they do not directly address the problems of systemic racism in academia and society as a whole.

We Are Not Where We Want to Be

The discipline of Cognitive Science aspires to study the human mind – all human minds. Yet the makeup of the Cognitive Science community does not yet reflect the diversity of the minds we study. We aspire to greater inclusivity.

New Actions We are Taking to be Pro-Actively Anti-Racist 

We have an obligation to be pro-actively anti-racist and to take concrete action consistent with that priority. Following are the set of new actions approved by our Governing Board this week:

Internal Structural Change

  • Committees. There is currently no explicit statement regarding diversity in our standing or ad-hoc committees, although in practice diversity is given consideration when forming them. The Executive Committee is currently reviewing the composition of committees to ensure an emphasis on racial and ethnic diversity.
  • Journal Editorial Boards. We have asked our journal editors to review the composition of their editorial boards with an emphasis on improving racial and ethnic diversity, in addition to their current goals of being inclusive of geography and gender.

Putting our Money where our Values Are

  • Diversity and Inclusion Awards. We will double our annual commitment to Diversity and Inclusion Awards in 2021 by giving 10 awards of $1000 each to under-represented racial and ethnic minorities and those from countries under-represented in Cognitive Science to support attendance at our annual meeting.
  • Diversity and Social Inequality Award. We will launch a new prize to recognize the best work at our annual conference that tackles issues of diversity and social inequality. Eligible work can include studies of racism, sexism, and other forms of inequality, or more generally tackle the issue of psychological and behavioral diversity in cognitive science. The prize includes a cash award of $1,000 (USD). The prize is open to researchers at any level (student, post-doctoral fellow, research scientist, faculty) from any nationality. It will be awarded to full papers that indicate their eligibility on submission.

Encouraging Discussion

  • Digital series on our blog. We will create a digital series on the cognitive science of diversity and social inequality for publication later in 2020.
  • Other venues for discussion. The society has a number of other ways of stimulating and leading discussion in the Cognitive Science community, including symposia at the conference and special issues in our journals (Cognitive Science and topiCS). We are actively engaged in working towards stimulating discussion on racism and inequality, and the Governing Board commits to taking the lead in making this happen.

Catalyzing Inclusive Participation in Society Activities

  • All are welcome in the Cognitive Science Society. At the Annual Conference, we will recognize and endorse affinity groups formed around shared identities, interests, and goals that are consistent with our anti-racist orientation.  A call for affinity group participation at this year’s July Annual Conference will be forthcoming.

Final Thoughts

The current moment inspires us to do better in understanding and counteracting systemic racism in academia and in society more broadly. We have a lot of work ahead of us.  Please join us in speaking out against racial violence, to use our teaching and research to fight racial injustices, and to hold ourselves accountable to advance anti-racism and promote justice and equality for all.

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