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Science to Action at Fall Meeting 2021

The theme for #AGU21 is Science is Society.

AGU’s Fall Meeting convenes thousands of researchers, scientists, educators, students, policymakers, science enthusiasts, journalists and communicators who are driven to better understand our planet and environment, and our role in preserving its future. It is a results-oriented gathering rooted in celebrating and advancing positive individual and collective outcomes.

That’s why Science is Society is the AGU Fall Meeting 2021 theme.

We need to share the research and knowledge that our community is building with the world so that we foster a sustainable environment for future generations.

  • Science is decision-making. From where and how homes are built to mitigate risk from natural disasters to the development and transition to renewable energy systems, science must inform our choices.
  • Science is understanding. We must convene diverse individuals across disciplines from around the world to identify challenges and develop equitable solutions.
  • Science is disruptive. We need to be able to debate ideas in a safe and welcoming environment so that we keep thinking bigger, broader and better.
  • Science is personal. Each one of us is motivated to do our work for different reasons, which we’ll highlight throughout the year.

What is Science to Action at AGU all about?

Annually, a group of AGU members who organize themselves under the banner of Science to Action carry out a collection of sessions, workshops, and networking events that are about how we connect science with action through partnering with communities and working with decision makers. Another group, Native Science, hosts events that explore the connections between science and indigenous ways of knowing. All of us – Thriving Earth Exchange, Science to Action, and Native Science – share the goal of helping all communities thrive by increasing science engagement to improve daily life and better confront concerns posed by extreme events, climate and land cover change, and natural hazards. We share an evidence-based conviction that co-created science or community science is a good way to do this important work.

Email [email protected] for an introduction.

Click here to review Science to Action activities from previous years.

  • Science is a community. Even though we have our own personal motivations, we must work together to be advocates and supporters of the research that informs our decisions and is integral to our success in creating a better world.

#AGU21 will take place from December 13-17 in New Orleans and virtually. Visit the AGU Fall Meeting website for the latest information on meeting content and participation.


Sessions Accepting Abstracts

This session encourages dialog on Community Science and Citizen Science (CCS) cutting across research, practice, and professionalization of the field. In Community Science, scientists and communities do science together to advance one or more community priorities. It encourages communities, particularly historically marginalized and oppressed communities, to guide, participate in, learn from, and benefit from science. Citizen Science, similarly, engages the public to collaborate with scientists in research and monitoring, from local to global investigations.

We welcome: 1.) examples illustrating the importance, value and benefit — to both research and the public — of these growing fields; 2.) submissions show how scholars and practitioners are building the field through activities such as graduate and undergraduate education, fellowships, and training resources; and 3.) research focused on CCS, for example on participant outcomes, linking with policy and management, or design strategies — particularly in the context of the geosciences.

This session invites research, practices, and frameworks to inform governance of geoengineering research. We seek research about public opinion, strategies for inclusive public deliberation, framing for the moral and ethical issues of research, and clear thinking about how governance of research can include, without being overwhelmed by, the moral and ethical issues of deployment. Questions to explore include: Under what conditions are an outdoor experiment appropriate? How do we balance local and nonlocal interests – what is the role of people impacted by climate change who don’t reside in the location of the experiment? How do we ensure processes for public deliberation don’t inherit or perpetuate systemic racism and colonialism? What do we know about how consideration of geoengineering research influences mitigation behaviors or public opinion about eventual deployment? We particularly invite papers from researchers in the global south or from communities at the leading edge of climate change.

While climate change is global, the impacts and many of the innovative responses are local. Through local field trips, videos, movies, presentations, panels, and discussion this session will explore the ways in which people along the Gulf are responding to climate change and the ways in which climate change intersects with issues of justice, race, power, and economics. Attendees will leave with an appreciation for the complexities of climate change work in Louisiana; ideas for understanding and navigating complexity in the places they live and work; and a deepened respect for the skill that local leaders bring, We hope attendees will leave an informed optimism for the ways in which Earth and space science might contribute to a more just, resilient, and abundant future for everyone.


One of the fundamental motivations of geosciences is to produce knowledge that helps to solve society’s most pressing issues. Developing scientific knowledge that catalyzes effective environmental action requires insights from a variety of communities and disciplines, especially those that relate to social behavior and decision-making. This session highlights talks from diverse fields (including but not limited to anthropology, economics, history, political science, decision science, psychology, and sociology, as well as from practitioner communities) that present social and behavioral findings that illuminate how to forge stronger linkages between science and society and improve the societal impact of geoscience knowledge. We particularly invite insights, frameworks, and tools that scientists and/or practitioners can use to support social and behavioral changes at multiple scales.

From the COVID-19 pandemic to climate change and beyond, science is essential for developing effective and equitable public policies. Scientists have the responsibility to provide timely, evidence-based, objective analysis to policy makers and decision makers throughout all levels of government. In this session, we seek to shine a light on the science community’s recent efforts to restore faith in the role of science in policy, from local- and community-level engagement to Federal policy making. We encourage abstract submissions that highlight specific science-based public policy initiatives as well as abstracts more broadly focused on science policy collaborations. We welcome submissions from scientists, policy makers, and science advocates who have worked at the interface of science and public policy. We especially want to highlight science communication and engagement practices that enable effective collaborations between scientists and policymakers.

Science communication includes the efforts of natural, physical and social scientists, communications professionals, and teams that communicate the process and values of science and scientific findings to non-specialist audiences outside of formal educational settings. The goals of science communication can include enhanced dialogue, understanding, awareness, enthusiasm, improving decision making, or influencing behaviors. Channels can include in-person interaction, online, social media, mass media, or other methods.

Scientific and artistic endeavors are used to explore and understand the world around us. Art helps visualize data and communicate results and the integration of art and science yields interdisciplinary methodologies that enable connections between science and society. In the COVID-19 pandemic, collaborations of art and science have proven valuable for providing healing spaces, and have brought together groups of diverse backgrounds. This session welcomes examples from all disciplines that have successfully integrated art and science. We encourage abstracts about collaborations between artists and scientists throughout a project, how artists and scientists responded to the challenges of the COVID19 pandemic, and from communities that have historically been marginalized in art and science spaces. If your presentation will involve a display of some form or art, we ask that your abstract include a brief description of your research as well as how you plan to communicate it through art.

Global environmental change has led to, exacerbated or been created by inequities across social systems. The intersection of environmental justice and the geosciences is one of the most important links between the earth and social sciences that is important to understand at the local, regional, and global scale. We seek contributions from a wide range of work that approaches the integration of environmental justice and earth science research at the interfaces of air or water quality, climate change, land use, energy or resource access, and more. In particular, we are interested in frameworks, methods, and integrated datasets that assess, analyze, and counter the injustices and disproportionate impacts brought about or exacerbated by environmental change. We especially welcome work that focuses on racial, economic, gender-based, and disability justice.

Worldviews of Indigenous peoples can bring deep insights to the study and management of complex environmental systems through their holistic approaches to problem solving and ways of knowing. These perspectives can inform and enrich western scientific research and discussions of policy in areas related to sustainability, human-environment interactions, ecosystems, climate adaptation, geohealth, and more. Although western science has begun to acknowledge the importance of Indigenous knowledges, voices of Indigenous peoples are largely absent from scholarly discourse. With this in mind, we welcome submissions focusing on Indigenous voices and perspectives in environmental sciences and policy emphasizing meaningful collaborations between western scientists and Indigenous communities, or on Indigenous scholars’ experiences walking in both worlds. Submissions may be case studies, syntheses, or other scholarship focusing on one or more Indigenous tribe, group, or organization. We also welcome perspectives discussing relevant issues surrounding community-based participation, ethics, data governance, and respect for sacred knowledge.

The Gulf of Mexico is rapidly transforming due to a confluence of sea level rise, increased frequency of natural disasters and population migration. The next decade will be a critical time for natural resource management as Deepwater Horizon penalty funds are used to implement restoration projects across the region. Natural resource managers need updated, spatially, and temporally relevant data to successfully support ecosystem restoration and conservation. Yet, this necessary co-production of science between researchers and natural resource managers is hampered by time, funding and communication constraints. This session will highlight natural resource management needs in the Gulf of Mexico, case studies of co-produced research, and co-produced decision support tools. We welcome presentations focused on all natural resource management needs, particularly those that address climate change, sea level rise, and the needs of underserved populations.

This session will explore how climate and weather data is gathered and shaped to fit utilities’ and energy-stakeholders’ needs. Recent events (Aug 2020: California heatwaves, Feb 2021: Texas cold-snap) illustrate challenges posed by climate change/variability, underscoring the need to integrate understandings of climate, weather, and extreme events into energy-sector planning. It’s a tremendous task to transform and tailor high-resolution climate-data(sets) to regionally relevant proxies to efficiently and effectively inform resources-management, infrastructure-planning and resilient investment. Presentations are welcome that show-case tailoring of climate/weather-data and informatics to support the energy-sector.

Data can inform – indeed, transform – decision making. Water managers typically use in situ data for decision making. However, managing water is increasingly difficult due to growing demand and climate change. Because of this, managers are looking to satellite Earth observations (EO) to inform decisions. Water managers not only need more data that are useful and available long-term. They also need the right data with the resolution, latency and format to easily plug into decision pipelines. Moreover, decision-making organizations must be open to ingesting EO data.

Coined in 2012, the term “sociohydrology” refers to a new science that is aimed at understanding the dynamics and co-evolution of coupled human-water systems. Over the last decade, many researchers have advanced ways to integrate economics, norms and values, and case study methods are integrated into sociohydrological analyses. However, much is left to tackle. This session invites researchers to share their approaches for effectively incorporating social sciences for tackling wicked water problems. Talks focused on scientific rigor and decision-making are especially welcome.

Weather, water & climate services provide crucial information to decision-makers in sectors including energy, water resources, agriculture, and transportation. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted delivery of these services by affecting professionals’ health and work schedules, and restricting physical meetings between service providers and end users. Even for operational organizations with mandates to continue services through an emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted traditional methods of interaction between service providers and their customers. This session seeks examples of how weather, water & climate services were sustained or modified during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing lessons learned in delivering services under difficult conditions.

Scientific expertise is fundamental to the ability of federal agencies to keep our air and water clean and our food safe, track disease outbreaks and tackle pressing issues like climate change. The previous administration attacked science, federal scientists, and their work on an unprecedented scale. While President Biden signed a sweeping memorandum on scientific integrity and made a strong commitment to environmental justice, we still have miles to go to ensure science-based policies address racial and economic inequities. In this time of intersecting ecological and climate crises, we need to hold our governments accountable and advance equitable science-based policies.

One of AGU’s strategic goals is to “Partner broadly with other organizations and sectors to effectively address scientific and societal challenges.” This session will advance that goal through a dialog between non-academic organizations and researchers, offering experiences, promising practices and use cases that highlight the types of scientific partnerships most valued by non-academic organizations and sectors. This session provides an opportunity for those new to ‘solution-oriented science’ to learn how it’s done from those who have been doing it. We encourage submissions from Local, City and State Government, Non-Governmental Organizations, Technical Startups, Climate Security, Aerospace, and Defense sectors

Universities are offering exciting, novel and innovative initiatives for incorporating project-based community science into graduate student education. In addition to addressing and supporting community-driven priorities, these initiatives enable early-career scientists to broaden their networks and apply quantitative, analytical, and communication skills beyond the boundaries of their primary academic focus. We seek to create a space for faculty-led, graduate student-led, and community-led groups to learn from each other and to share successful models and remaining challenges for incorporating community science at universities. Some prescient discussion threads include: (1) What equitable funding structures have been successful?; (2) What models work for training graduate students to work with community leaders?; (3) How can graduate students connect with community leaders and maintain these relationships beyond the duration of a single project?; (4) How can community science programs expand opportunities for graduate student involvement while leveraging existing initiatives, faculty expertise, and administrative support?

Other Sessions

Sessions in this section are not accepting abstracts or accept them by invitation only.

This meeting-within-a-meeting will challenge traditional paradigms of thinking, working, and experimenting, through innovative participatory sessions as well as traditional panel discussions with local and global leaders advancing intersectional justice. Weaving these three strands together and drawing from experience outside the geosciences would accelerate progress in all three areas and build a coalition for change. We are on the cusp of a paradigm shift in geosciences — marked by respect for multiple knowledge forms, those of Indigenous sciences and the experience of communities — that is driven by the urgency of current challenges, inspired by the early champions, and informed by the experiences and wisdom of new partners. This is the time to keep the momentum going: these three ideas — convergence, collaboration, and justice — have the potential to transform the geosciences and our ability to contribute to society.

New sensors and networks have the potential to transform the way communities plan for climate action and manage local environments. Worldwide, communities may soon have the ability to measure fine-scale variations in greenhouse gases, air and water quality and help design and test policies against those variations. We will discuss current use cases and explore new instrumentation and data guidelines in support of local environmental policymaking. The session will be a mixture of information, discussion and workshop, and aligns with AGU strategic goals to partner with other organizations to address scientific and societal challenges and promote an inclusive scientific culture.

AGU’s new mission and vision aspire to support societally engaged science – sometimes referred to as solution-driven science, convergent science, use-inspired science, or a variety of other names. The path to successfully connect science and society is done in a myriad of ways, though the path is often not obvious and certainly not linear. Fortunately, within AGU there are a growing number of members with a wealth of experience in connecting science and society. This includes research and practice in: community and citizen science, science communication, science policy, social and behavioral sciences, and art and science. This session will gather leaders in each of these areas to share their fields of study and practice, spotlight examples of how this work effectively, and justly, connects science to society, and share how AGYou can participate in more engaged science at AGU and beyond.