9. Workforce capacity development and inclusivity

Moderators: Anna Monfils, Molly Phillips, Libby Ellwood, and Austin Mast


To fully address workforce training and inclusivity within the DES, our efforts must be considered in a global context. The DES is an opportunity to broaden our community and ensure that through the expansion of biodiversity data that the workforce landscape itself is truly more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible. Future “DES Data Curators” – those who will be charged with maintaining resources created through the DES – will require skills and resources beyond what is currently available to most natural history collections staff. A fully-implemented DES will therefore need to provide training that encapsulates capacity building, skills development, unifying protocols and best practices guidance, and cutting-edge technology that also create inclusive, equitable, and accessible systems, workflows, and communities.

The success of the DES rests in our ability to equip a diverse workforce with the skills necessary to build, grow, and support the data, tools, and resources of the DES. The goal of this topic, therefore, is to discuss how we, as members of the biodiversity community and the current workforce, can coordinate a spectrum of training that: spans formal and informal education, continuing education and outreach; that is inclusive, equitable, and welcoming of under-engaged individuals; that works to address issues of historic inequalities and colonial practices; and that provides appropriate attribution for past and future work.

Questions to promote discussion

On accessibility

  1. How can DES ensure it is not perpetuating historical and current inequities and is working towards a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible biodiversity landscape with its future activities?
  2. What can we do as a community to bridge the digital divide to make specimen data and extended specimen data globally accessible?

On repatriation of resources and data

  1. Where did our specimens and associated data come from, and are we supporting and enabling researchers and research infrastructure from biodiverse regions, or are we removing biodiversity resources from these areas without meaningful collaborations?
  2. Are we preparing the communities who have been historically under-engaged by “parachute science” to participate in knowledge formation and benefits from digital extended specimens?
  3. Are we adequately engaging the historically under-engaged during the build-out of the digital extended specimen?

On skills

  1. How would we define the DES Data Curator?
  2. What skills will they need and what content must they know?

On attribution

  1. Who was not given proper attribution for historical collections and how can we use technology to retroactively correct inequities in credit and attribution?
  2. Who is not getting attribution in modern collections and how can we create more transparent linkages among data and the humans that create data?
  3. How do we adequately communicate expertise or other qualities that would provide context to contributed data in the digital extended specimen?

Information resources

  • Drew, J.A., C.S. Moreau, and M.L.J. Stiassny. 2017. Digitization of museum collections holds the potential to enhance researcher diversity. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1: 1789–1790. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-017-0401-6
  • Evangelista, D.A., A. Goodman, M.K. Kohli, S.S.T.B. Maflamills, M. Samuel-Foo, M.S. Herrera, J.L. Ware, and M. Wilson. 2020. Why diversity matters among those who study diversity. American Entomologist 66: 42–49. https://doi.org/10.1093/ae/tmaa037
  • Campos-Arceiz, A., R.B. Primack, A.J. Miller-Rushing, and M. Maron. 2018. Striking underrepresentation of biodiversity-rich regions among editors of conservation journals. Biological Conservation 220: 330–333. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2017.07.028
  • Das, S., and M. Lowe. 2018. Nature read in Black and White: decolonial approaches to interpreting natural history collections. Journal of Natural Science Collections 6: 4–14. Journal Article | Natural Sciences Collections Association
  • Espin, J., S. Palmas, F. Carrasco-Rueda, K. Riemer, P.E. Allen, N. Berkebile, K.A. Hecht, K. Kastner-Wilcox, M.M. Núñez-Regueiro, C. Prince, C. Rios, E. Ross, B. Sangha, T. Tyler, J. Ungvari-Martin, M. Villegas, T.T. Cataldo, and E.M. Bruna. 2017. A persistent lack of international representation on editorial boards in environmental biology. PLoS Biology 15: e2002760. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2002760
  • Stefanoudis, P.V., Licuanan, W.Y., Morrison, T.H., Talma, S., Veitayaki, J. and Woodall, L.C., 2021. Turning the tide of parachute science. Current Biology, 31(4), pp.R184- R185. Turning the tide of parachute science - ScienceDirect
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