The U.S. Department of Energy, the nation’s chief funder of the physical sciences, is requiring scientific grant applicants to demonstrate their commitment to social justice ideals.
The new policy, which began in October 2022, requires grant proposals that are submitted to the department’s Office of Science to include a “Promoting Inclusive and Equitable Research” (PIER) plan in addition to information regarding their scientific project, according to the office. Researchers who want to receive funding must explain how they are working to “promote fairness and inclusiveness” while carrying out their studies because doing so is “an intrinsic element to achieving scientific excellence.”
The quality of PIER plans will be one of the criteria used to evaluate grant applications and will be used to inform “funding decisions.”
The plan can outline methods undertaken by the research body to recruit researchers and students from “diverse backgrounds” or groups that are “historically underrepresented in the research community,” according to the Office of Science. Scientists may also present PIER plans that outline strategies to create an “inclusive” and “safe” research environment that “fosters a sense of belonging among all research personnel.”
“Plans may incorporate or build upon existing diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion efforts of the project key personnel or applicant institution(s), but should not be a re-statement of standard institutional policies or broad principles,” the office states. “The complexity and detail of a PIER is expected to increase with the size of the research team and the number of personnel to be supported.”
In early October, the department announced that proposals requesting funding for professional science conferences will require the host organization of the conference to establish a code of conduct or policy in place that “addresses discrimination, harassment, bullying, and other exclusionary practices.” Conference applicants will also be forced to submit a recruitment and accessibility plan for speakers and attendees that will include a discussion of the recruitment of individuals from groups that have been historically underrepresented in the research community.
The Energy Department and its Office of Science provide 40% of all federal funding for research in the physical sciences, according to the office’s website.
The Energy Department did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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