Department Statement

Dear Earth Science Community,


During what should otherwise be a celebratory time of year, we are distressed to be writing as our nation faces cascading crises. The shock of the past week and a half puts us at a loss for words. We write to express our anguish about these events and our solidarity with you. The Department of Earth Science is more than an assemblage of individuals. The Muckers and our graduate researchers, our staff and faculty: we are a community of interdependent people bound by common attitudes, interests, and aspirations, committed to mutual well-being.


Regrettably, we are currently also bound by anger, anxiety, frustration, and uncertainty. Although the unfathomable horror of George Floyd’s murder catalysed this national spasm of outrage, we recognize that it is the consequence of centuries of systemic racism. We soberly acknowledge this injustice and recognize that our department and our campus are not free of its corrosive effects. We echo the UCSB Principles of Community: every human being has intrinsic dignity. We unequivocally affirm that Black lives matter.


This ongoing tumult is especially difficult for students, who still have coursework, final exams, and research papers to complete. You deserve an enriching, challenging, and engaging academic experience, and we lament that yours has been diminished by the calamities reverberating through our society.


Earth science teaches us many lessons, two of which are especially relevant to this moment: First, change may be slow and incremental, but it is inexorable. The cumulative effect of many small jolts of evolutionary pressure can result in entirely new realities. Second, unpredictable catastrophic events upend the status quo, creating unanticipated opportunities for fundamental change.


As a faculty and a department, we are committed to taking meaningful action that builds on the moral imperative of this moment.  We recognize the department’s shortcomings with regard to diversity and inclusion and are working to do something about them. We invite your collaboration in this undertaking and gratefully recognize the work of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committees and their ongoing efforts towards new programs and reforms. Recent events motivate us to redouble these efforts.


Communities provide strength and comfort, seeding the regeneration that follows crises. We are determined to support the members of this department in every way possible through this difficult time. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me or any of my colleagues with concerns, for help connecting to campus resources (please see CAPS, Student wellbeing), or with any questions or suggestions you may have.

Wishing you health, strength, and peace of mind.


For my colleagues,


Andy Wyss