Jon Lewis and colleagues, in their nascent community of practice, the Coastal and Ocean STEM Equity Alliance, published an open-access commentary arguing for a rethinking of committee work. Their article, published in American Geophysical Union Advances, is titled “Rethinking Committee Work in the Research Enterprise: The Case of Regenerative Gatekeeping”.

COSEA suggests that in our day-to-day committee work we act as gatekeepers, and this tends to maintain the status quo. This matters because, despite decades of work to bring more people from historically excluded communities into the vast fields that fall within the geosciences (e.g., space science, oceanography, seismology, paleontology, atmospheric science), very little progress has been made in the academy based on PhD attainment (Bernard and Cooperdock, 2018) and more broadly as reflected in undergraduate degree attainment (Beane, 2021). 

Lewis and his coauthors suggest that the committee work that undergirds much of academic research holds great potential for promoting progress. They define a framework coined “regenerative gatekeeping” that entails some combination of self-assessing policies and practices, asking critical questions, and engaging in generative conflict. COSEA hopes that regenerative gatekeeping activates distributed mechanisms that counter the inertia that characterizes the research enterprise, in the academy and beyond.