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Statement on the US Executive Order

16 February 2017

The Geological Society, along with many other national and international scientific organisations, is concerned by the Executive Order, announced on 27 January 2017, which will prevent people from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa from entering the United States, if it is allowed to stand.

From the perspective of an international organisation with members living and working around the world in what is a truly global scientific discipline, such a ban would have the potential to hinder a number of activities that are critical to our science. Furthermore, as an organisation we are committed to supporting diversity and inclusion in the geoscience profession, irrespective of nationality, and the Executive Order conflicts with our stated aims in this area.

There is concern that scientists may be prevented from attending research conferences and meetings in the US. These opportunities to share and discuss research and its application facilitate the collaboration essential for excellence in science and innovation. There may also be an impact on industry. This would be particularly likely to affect the many companies in the energy and resources sectors that have offices and operations in both the US and the countries listed in the Executive Order. International firms would also need to address instances of UK-based staff who are affected by the ban.

In addition to short-term impacts on research and industry, there are also concerns about possible implications for cross-border working in the longer term. Earth science, like all science, is a global endeavour relying on the open exchange of research ideas and discussion. A ban of this type would reduce access to the best science.  Geology and the subsurface are not constrained by national borders and therefore effective advancement of our science depends on free movement across borders to carry out research and the sharing of ideas.

This Executive Order may have long-term consequences for the UK’s international scientific relations if it is an indication of the USA’s future migration policies. It is imperative, in order to maintain our position as a global power in research, that the UK Government shows leadership in promoting the importance of internationalism in science.  

Statement from the Geological Society on the US Executive Order