Accelerating ethics, empathy, and equity in geographic information science

T. A. Nelson, M. F. Goodchild, D. J. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Science has traditionally been driven by curiosity and followed one goal: the pursuit of truth and the advancement of knowledge. Recently, ethics, empathy, and equity, which we term “the 3Es,” are emerging as new drivers of research and disrupting established practices. Drawing on our own field of GIScience (geographic information science), our goal is to use the geographic approach to accelerate the response to the 3Es by identifying priority issues and research needs that, if addressed, will advance ethical, empathic, and equitable GIScience. We also aim to stimulate similar responses in other disciplines. Organized around the 3Es we discuss ethical issues arising from locational privacy and cartographic integrity, how our ability to build knowledge that will lead to empathy can be curbed by data that lack representativeness and by inadvertent inferential error, and how GIScientists can lead toward equity by supporting social justice efforts and democratizing access to spatial science and its tools. We conclude with a call to action and invite all scientists to join in a fundamentally different science that responds to the 3Es and mobilizes for change by engaging in humility, broadening measures of excellences and success, diversifying our networks, and creating pathways to inclusive education. Science united around the 3Es is the right response to this unique moment where society and the planet are facing a vast array of challenges that require knowledge, truth, and action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2119967119
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 10 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • ethics j empathy j equity j GIScience j culture of science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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