Diversifying and Enriching the Wikipedia Entry on Environmental Books
|Date and time: Tuesday, June 23, 2020 – 9:00am-5:00pm EDT |
Sponsors: ASEH Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity; ASEH Graduate Student Caucus; Environmental History Now; NiCHE New Scholars; Women’s Environmental History Network
To register your interest: click here
Even a cursory glance at the “List of environmental books” article on Wikipedia reveals a striking imbalance in the works that are represented: an overwhelming bias towards white, male authors. We need to listen to Black community members and heed calls to #ShutDownAcademia in order to move from intent to action in addressing systemic racism. We also want to build on the ongoing work of the Syllabus Project, which has encouraged environmental historians to diversify their course syllabi by including more scholarship by women and people of color. It’s clear we need to update and enrich this woefully inadequate list of resources on Wikipedia so it brings the diverse and multi-layered nature of environmental-related work and expertise to the forefront—not only for academics, but especially the general public.
Therefore, we’re going to #FlipTheList on Tuesday, June 23! Our goal is to add 300 books by scholars of color, scholars from the Global South, and/or scholars who identify as women, trans and non-binary people.
While Wikipedia edit-a-thons are well-established events for making extensive enrichments to many articles pertaining to particular topics on the website, #FlipTheList will have the modest goal of revolutionizing this one particular list of environmental books by crowdsourcing recommendations. This will enable us to make a major impact in this one area. We also want to make sure that the event is accessible so that a wide range of people can contribute.
On June 23, participants will have the opportunity to meet together virtually, to contribute their book recommendations to a shared document, and to sign up as a volunteer to subsequently publish these selections on the Wikipedia article. Beginning with the shared document will help us to organize the material before it is added to Wikipedia, as well as to avoid “edit-conflicts” that can occur when multiple people attempt to edit the same article at the same time.
We are also looking for volunteers to help edit the extant list after June 23. Some volunteers may also want to create new Wikipedia pages containing accurate and relevant information about some of the authors and books we will be adding.
How can I help on June 23?
Join our Zoom session on June 23. Add book recommendations to the Google sheet while hanging out, meeting other scholars, and perhaps having conversations about diversity, equity, scholarship, and pedagogy. Feel free to stay for 10 minutes or several hours!
Share this project with interested colleagues and list servs so that we can #FlipTheList!
How can I help after June 23?
Volunteer to help edit the extant list and perhaps create individual pages for some entries.
Why did we pick June 23?
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” Thus begins Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, better known simply as Title IX. These federal rules, meant to prevent sexism and discrimination on the basis of sex/gender on college campuses, were signed into law by President Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972. The law was proposed in Congress by Representatives Patsy Mink, Edith Green, and Senator Birch Bayh. It was renamed in 2002 by a joint resolution of Congress as the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in honor of Representative Mink, who was the first woman of color and first Asian American woman elected to Congress. We chose this date to celebrate Title IX, Mink, and the greater fight for diversity, equality, and justice for all.
Who we are (and aren’t)?
We are Justin Fisher, Elizabeth Hameeteman, Sara Pritchard, Chris Slaby, and Ramya Swayamprakash—a group of scholars and thinkers in environmental history and the environmental humanities who have come together to recognize and contribute to rectifying historical and ongoing inequalities in the fields in which we work and the world today. At the same time, we are cognizant of the fact that we are not as diverse as the realities of environmental thinking and writing that already exist in the world, and that we seek to properly recognize and amplify through this very initiative.
Our goal is to use whatever power and privilege that we do have—being aware of the fact we each occupy our own different and unique positions—to address and dismantle systems of inequality. We see this as an open process, meant to be reflective, responsive, iterative, accountable, and responsible.
*Cover Image Credit: Photo by Christopher Slaby.