Building a Culture of Safety and Trust in Team Science

Arctic research team that implemented a culture of safety, inclusion, and trust as the foundation for cross-disciplinary science shares lessons, experience

The Science

Intentionally create a project-wide culture of safety, inclusion, and trust that facilitates strong cross-disciplinary collaboration and exciting scientific discoveries.

The Impact

The NGEE Arctic team, underpinned by a strong safety culture at the National Laboratories and partner institutions, has made the safety of individuals and of the team its number one concern before, during, and after field and laboratory campaigns. The team adopted a safety mindset that underlies all their work, a heightened understanding of the need for respect and common purpose, and a broad set of values endorsed by everyone: safe and harassment-free work environments, respect for local culture and knowledge of the environment in areas and communities where they are guests, and collaboration and open science.

Summary

Increasingly, scientists from around the world and across a wide spectrum of disciplines are working together to advance our understanding of the vulnerable and globally important Arctic biome. As scientists become part of larger teams and join broader and more diverse scientific endeavors, they must all become leaders in creating cultures of safety, inclusion, and trust to facilitate the physical and emotional well-being of individuals in scientific teams and in the local communities where scientists work. Then NGEE Arctic team shares lessons learned from an “experiment within an experiment” begun as part of a large-scale, decade-long research project in Alaska. The experiment was focused on answering the question: How can we intentionally create a project-wide culture of safety, inclusion, and trust that facilitates strong cross-disciplinary collaboration and exciting scientific discoveries?

Principal Investigator

Colleen Iversen
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
iversencm@ornl.gov

Program Manager

Daniel Stover
U.S. Department of Energy, Biological and Environmental Research (SC-33)
Environmental System Science
daniel.stover@science.doe.gov

Funding

We thank the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science for funding the NGEE Arctic project. We thank the participating institutions, Brookhaven National Laboratory (contract DE-SC0012704), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, as well as the NGEE Arctic team for their leadership, collaboration, and friendship across the years. We also thank UIC Science and the Council Native Corporation, Mary’s Igloo Native Corporation, and Sitnasuak Native Corporation for allowing us to conduct our research on their land.

Related Links

References

Iversen, C. M., W. R. Bolton, A. Rogers, and C. J. Wilson, et al. "Building a culture of safety and trust in team science". Eos 101 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1029/2020EO143064.