Inter- and Transdisciplinary Sessions
Disciplinary sessions AS–GM
Disciplinary sessions GMPV–TS

Session programme


GDB – Great Debates

Programme group chairs: Peter van der Beek, Chloe Hill


Different forms of systemic discrimination are experienced by underrepresented minorities throughout society, and the geoscience community is not immune to this often overlooked or unrecognised problem. Recent events and research have highlighted the systematic problem of racism in geoscience, but even beyond race-based discrimination many geoscientists experience some form of discrimination on a daily basis both within their professional and personal life.
EGU has made a commitment to highlighting these challenges, and are seeking to improve our efforts to make discrimination unacceptable, especially within the geoscience community. Through a series of actions including blogs, publications and public events, EGU will continue to work to raise awareness of discrimination in all its forms.
This Great Debate will build on EGU’s stated ambition to promote equality, inclusivity and diversity in geoscience at all levels, and draw influence from how discrimination in the geosciences is experienced by our members from a personal perspective. This panel discussion aims to raise awareness of these issues and try to understand what concrete actions EGU and other scientific societies can take to effect real change for everyone affected by some form of discrimination.

Convener: Helen Glaves | Co-conveners: Hazel Gibson, Claudia Jesus-Rydin
Mon, 26 Apr, 15:00–16:30 (CEST)

At the beginning of the General Assembly 2020 EGU has published a declaration on the significance of geoscience expertise to meet global societal challenges. At the same time, a global public health crisis was happening due to COVID-19. During any public crisis including this public health crisis or any emerging environmental crisis, authorities often seek advice from experts to take the best possible actions. In many countries systems are in place for several potential environmental disasters such as floods and storms. However, for less frequent or new issues there is no established protocol. As sometimes fast reaction is key to save lives, experts may find themselves in the situation that a statement has to be issued under strong time constraints and without peer-review. In this great debate we would like to discuss different aspects of the requirement for fast information and how to address it, especially how to deal with the related lack of quality assessments and uncertainties. We will also discuss how this COVID-19 public health crisis could draw on the experience gained during other disasters that happen more frequently and which lessons we can learn from that.

Public information:
Vasiti Soko (Director of the National Disaster Management Office, Fiji)
Matthew Hort (Head of Atmospheric Dispersion and Air Quality Research, Met Office, UK)
Nadejda Komendantova (Research Group Leader, Cooperation and Transformative Governance Research Group, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Austria)
William Pan (Assoc. Prof., Global Environmental Health, Duke Global Health Institute, USA)
Convener: Oksana Tarasova | Co-convener: Claudia VolosciukECSECS
Wed, 21 Apr, 09:00–10:30 (CEST)

Conducting geoscientific research today is unthinkable without research software. However, there are different views on the importance of research software and its role in science.

The proposals to improve research software touch on all aspects of academia, such as funding, credit and reward systems, job descriptions and career paths, or evaluation schemes (of papers, people, projects). A growing community of researchers and software developers gather under the umbrella of Research Software Engineering (RSEng) and argue that research software is not merely a by-product of science, but effective and sustainable development of research software needs a skillset and resources beyond current academic education or management plans.

This great debate puts the questions, problems, challenges, and opportunities around research software in geosciences to the center of EGU, as it is a topic that concerns every researcher who uses computers. It features short opening statements by a panel representing the full breadth of stakeholders in science, and continues with a discussion on how to improve the situation for EGU members who work with and on research software:

- Does research software get the attention it deserves in Geosciences?
- How can we better support research software in Geosciences? How does it differ from other tools/equipment we use?
- Does a lack of support for research software lead to bad science in Geosciences?
- What failures can we learn from where research software played a critical role?
- How can (and should?) research software become a first class output across all Geosciences? How can credit be given to it’s authors and contributors?
- What skills and mindset set people who identify as research software engineers apart from “regular researchers”?
- How should the education of researchers include research software?
- What makes research software in Geosciences “good”, “FAIR”, useful, or user friendly? Who is responsible for that?
- What tasks can individual researchers or leaders in scientific communities undertake if they want to positively influence research software?
- Research software and open source - how do these meet? How can communities be built and can they mitigate issues around research software?

Co-sponsored by AGU
Convener: Daniel NüstECSECS | Co-conveners: Niels Drost, David Topping, Lesley Wyborn
Thu, 22 Apr, 15:00–16:30 (CEST)

"Publish or perish" is the motto for Fast Science. All Early Career Scientists (ECS) are well aware that the scientific landscape has become a publication factory. Fast Science prefers quantity over quality, thereby creating a proliferation of articles that overwhelm readers and publishers and threaten the effectiveness of the peer-review system. The widespread three-year turnover of project grants causes a lack of longer-term, comprehensively monitored data-sets, contributing to incremental, not fundamental, discoveries. Researchers are challenged to publish at a high frequency, gain international experience, receive outstanding teaching evaluations and acquire multiple scholarships and grants, all of which has to be balanced with their private life. It is no surprise that the 2019 ECS debate addressed mental health problems. In contrast, the Slow Science Movement (http://slow-science.org/) believes that science should be a slow, steady, methodical process and that scientists should not be expected to provide "quick solutions" to society's problems. Slow Science supports curious scientific research and opposes performance targets.

During this Great Debate, we will discuss the alternatives to Fast Science. Is Slow Science a realistic movement? What can we learn from it and what are the disadvantages compared to Fast Science? Would it be possible to integrate this concept of Slow Science into the current scientific landscape and create more sustainable science? Should we aim to publish coherent stories instead of splitting them up, thereby focusing on the real knowledge gain and scientific advances?

The attendees will share their opinions in small groups discussing one of the following topics, each revolving around the themes raised above. After the group-internal discussion phase, the main points from each group will be shared among the groups to continue further discussion and debate.

Convener: Andrea Madella | Co-conveners: Michael DietzeECSECS, Annegret LarsenECSECS
Tue, 20 Apr, 09:00–10:30 (CEST)

Being bullied or harassed at your workspace has a tremendous impact on both the professional and the personal wellbeing of the person subjected to such treatment.
Which acts and behaviours classify as bullying and harassment? How can you recognize if you or a co-worker/friend are the target of bullying and harassment? How can you protect yourself and others from bullying and harassment? What can we all together do to stop harmful behaviours from individuals or overarching structures? What do institutions need to do in order to create a healthy and safe work environment?

These questions and more will be addressed during this ECS Great Debate, which shall raise awareness for the harmful effects of bullying and harassment in academia, provide clarity around this complex matter, and encourage people to speak up and take action against it. Through round-table discussions we will talk about what is needed to create a healthy, safe and inclusive work environment for everyone, where bullying, any form of harassment and intimidation have no place.

Convener: Anouk Beniest | Co-conveners: Derya Gürer, Simone M. Pieber, Elenora van RijsingenECSECS
Thu, 22 Apr, 09:00–10:30 (CEST)