Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in Astronomy (IDEA)

IDEA is an early career scientist-run group, open to all graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics. The group was formed in 2017 by Gourav Khullar and Nora Shipp, graduate students in Astronomy and Astrophysics (with Brian Nord and Camille Avestruz as senior mentors), and has now grown to ~40 members. We host regular bi-weekly meetings.

IDEA was responsible for creating the petition to support Black Astronomers and Physicists at the University of Chicago, which led to the formation of community-wide Working Groups within the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council.

More details can be found here: 
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Goals of IDEA

IDEA has three broad goals:

  • Providing a safe space for members of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics community to talk about issues they are facing or are otherwise interested in discussing.
  • Educating each other on topics related to equity and inclusion in astronomy, via readings, invited talks, and workshops.

  • Advocacy and lobbying through low-barrier, high-impact projects. 


Our key accomplishments over the past year include the following projects:

  • Creating a mentoring program in 2018-19 (pairing students with faculty mentors outside of their research area, and pairing incoming students with senior graduate students)
  • Lobbying for guaranteed $1500 of relocation support in 2019-2020 for incoming students in the Department
  • Hosting IDEA Day, a first-of-its-kind half-day event in May 2019 with invited talks by speakers from around the Chicagoland area on topics including highlighting junior Black astronomers, mental health support, and supporting first-generation, low-income, and minoritized students in the classroom.
  • Hosting IDEA Week in August 2020, a week-long series of events, talks and workshops centered around racism, issues with the diversity and inclusion discourse, activism, self-care and inclusive teaching
  • Creating resource banks for faculty and staff that would like to get involved in conversations surrounding equity, inclusion and social justice.

  • Organizing equity and inclusion events during admitted students’ visits and orientations (2018-present)