An ornithologist wearing binoculars holds a bird that is being banded

Societies, universities partner to boost inclusivity in bird studies 

The project seeks to create affinity "Flocks" to support diversity

A group of universities and ornithological societies are teaming up to increase inclusivity in bird studies. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln and Virginia Tech are partnering with the American Ornithological Society, the Wilson Ornithological Society and the Association of Field Ornithologists in a new project funded by a half-million-dollar grant from the National Science Foundation’s BIO LEAPS program. The project, Co-creation of affinity groups to facilitate diverse and inclusive ornithological societies, plans to use a 2022 culture assessment conducted by the AOS as a basis to foster a greater sense of belonging among society members from historically excluded communities. 

The survey found “that historically excluded groups within ornithology would like more support and a stronger sense of community,” said AOS executive director Judith Scarl. “The first step is listening; the second step will be taking meaningful action.” 

The project seeks to create affinity groups—or Flocks—to support diversity in the organizations. It will also provide educational and professional development opportunities at Virginia Tech in diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and justice for a postdoctoral scholar and undergraduate researchers in the Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program. 

Read more from the American Ornithological Society

Header Image: A group of universities and societies are teaming up to increase inclusivity in ornithology. Credit: MriyaWildlife