EQUITY, DIVERSITY, & INCLUSION (EDI) AT IMGS: OUR PRINCIPLES AND ACTIONS
“The ongoing challenge for health geographers is to rethink the issue of wellbeing by contextualizing it into both personal and population-based experience of place, while holding firm to traditional concerns for equity and social justice.” (Kearns & Collins, 2020, pg. 27)
If “at the core of the sub‐discipline lies, or at least should lie, a concern for social justice” (Brown et al., 2018, pg. 2), the International Medical Geography Symposium, as our flagship conference in the field of health/medical geography, should be a platform to advance these commitments and intervene in the structural inequities of our field.
We acknowledge that too many of these commitments to equity and justice remain aspirational. Moon and Sabel (2019), for example, reviewed proceedings across 30 years of IMGS meetings and concluded that despite its international designation and increasing participation from non-Anglophone countries, the conference is still largely rooted in Anglophone hegemony. This is just one of many areas we need to address as a scholarly community. We see the IMGS as a crucial site to move aspiration into action to improve equity, diversity, and inclusion in health/medical geography, as part of a much-needed deeper process of structural change across our subdiscipline. We will work towards this change by upholding the following principles and embedding inclusive practices in our conference design:
|EDI Principles The IMGS is committed to:||Actions1|
|Positively fostering an inclusive and inviting conference for all, including challenging traditional academic hierarchies and spaces.||1. We have introduced an EDI Officer role on our conference committee to ensure an EDI lens is applied across IMGS planning and operations.|
2. All plenary sessions have been designed to include multiple speakers across a diversity of expertise and experience.
3. We have a quiet space room reserved and a room available for families, children, and infant-feeding.
4. Together with partnering organisations, we have launched a Social Media Correspondent funding opportunity for a trainee from any historically under-represented background to take on a SciComm (science communication) leadership role at the IMGS.
5. The conference co-chairs will underscore our commitments to these EDI principles as part of the conference opening session
|Cultivating a safe and respectful environment for scholars from a diversity of backgrounds and career stages to share and exchange ideas.||6. All participants are invited to include gender pronouns on their name badges and presentation title slides. |
7. Session chair selection and plenary programming are inclusive of scholars across career stages and backgrounds.
8. A support sheet will be provided to all session chairs that includes tips on how to address and intervene in problematic behaviour (“Interrupting Bias: Calling Out vs. Calling In”)
|Taking a critically self-reflective approach to reckoning with, and intervening in, historical structures and ongoing barriers to strengthening equity, diversity, and inclusion in health/medical geography, and in the IMGS specifically.||9. We have dedicated a special session, “Roundtable on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Health/Medical Geography,” within our programme to critically discuss ways to strengthen EDI in health/medical geography as a sub-discipline, and in the IMGS specifically.|
|Prioritising accessibility in all conference operations.||10. All presenters are encouraged to use live captioning (instructions for those using PowerPoint available here).|
11. Our team has worked closely with the venue to ensure mobility access in the conference setting.
12. We are taking a “mask-up indoors” approach during sessions to ensure a safe, accessible, and inclusive conference environment in pandemic times. We will have IMGS masks on-site for delegates. Limited lateral flow tests are available if needed; arrangements can be made to deliver to your accommodation if you are concerned you may need to isolate (please contact your EDI Officers).
13. Field trip options have been designed to offer a diverse range of activities to accommodate a variety of needs and preferences.
|Valuing mutual learning around EDI, including calling in (or out) any language or behaviour inconsistent with EDI.||14. We will issue an official conference memo to all delegates asking everyone to review this EDI Statement and to commit to abiding by these principles.|
|Implementing a zero-tolerance approach to any form of harassment or discrimination.||15. IMGS EDI Officers are the designated first point of contact for any concerns that conference delegates wish to raise or report. Any issues that arise will be dealt with swiftly by the IMGS EDI Officers and IMGS Conference Chairs.|
1These actions in reality address multiple principles, but have been aligned with a primary principle for simplicity. We will continue to add to this list of actions as new initiatives are finalised.
If you have any feedback, suggestions, or wish to report a complaint, please contact your IMGS EDI Officers Stephanie Coen (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jo Mhairi Hale (Jo.Hale@st-andrews.ac.uk).