Marching for Science
A good time was had by all, but now what?
By Ilene Schneider
On Saturday, also known as Earth Day, scientists and their supporters held the global March for Science, which evolved from the Women's March at the end of January. While the biggest event was in Washington, D.C. there were 609 satellite marches around the U.S. and across the world. Most participants said that “their outrage and disbelief about political changes have compelled them to speak out,” according to NBC News.
Although this event had a political basis, it did not completely stem from the November election or the policies of the current administration, participants said. According to Lydia Villa-Komaroff, CEO of Cytonome and an organizer of the march, “Federal support (for science) has been dropping since the 1960s.” Rush Holt, a physicist and now head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), agreed.
Still other participants were concerned about immigration policies that could be keeping scientists out of the U.S., people in the current administration who dispute the notion of global warming and the President’s proposals to slash funding for scientific endeavors. They decided to speak up, armed with signs bearing clever slogans.
What was accomplished, other than making a statement about the need for facts and the need to support science? Perhaps the sheer size of the response alerted onlookers to the potential consequences of not funding research. Perhaps it put a human face on a complicated topic or many complicated topics.
As Harold Stark, contributor to Forbes, explained, “Science is not a cultural trend. It is not a political weapon. Science is science, plain and simple. It is mankind’s quest to understand the universe, to see light where there is only darkness. It is the very fuel that drives the world around us, no matter how much we refuse to admit it.”
What happens now? According to the March for Science website (https://satellites.marchforscience.com), everyone can get involved in supporting science. Here’s how:
People can participate in a science project without being part of a company or government agency at the present time. According to the website, “Citizen science -- or science that happens outside of traditional institutions --has been happening throughout most of human history. Technology has opened up a new world of ways everyone can be a researcher or part of a research team. Check out the list of opportunities at SciStarter(www.scistarter.com)and explore your local communities for ways to join (or start!) citizen science organizations.”
Additionally, people can support and explore science art, film and music in their local communities. As the March for Science website explains, “STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Because of the importance of creativity for the critical mind, we've begun adding ‘Art’ to the equation, and started promoting STEAM. We’ve compiled a list of exciting groups that produce STEAM projects so that you can learn about their mission, get involved, and simply enjoy.” Here is the list: https://www.marchforscience.com/blog/exploring-steam-programs.
The march conveyed the idea that science is everybody’s business and that everybody can get involved in promoting it and enjoying it. There is no time like the present.