The most effective way to protect science is to encourage the public to value and invest in it. This is why we’re marching through London on 22 April 2017, says Story Sylwester.
As the nature of scientific inquiry developed over centuries from the “solitary genius” model of Sir Isaac Newton to the international collaboration modelled by the Rosetta space exploration mission, UK scientists have been leaders in the development of scientific thinking and methodology. Yet, in an age where science has resulted in new technologies, improved quality of life, and improved understanding of the world around us, it faces some of its toughest challenges.
There is growing concern that scientific progress and freedom is under threat on a global level. The problematic attitudes and policies of the new US administration, uncertainty surrounding the impact of the June 2016 EU referendum in the UK, and the threat of “alternative facts” have spurred global discussions regarding the politicisation of science.
The application of science is not a partisan issue; it should neither serve special interests nor be rejected based on personal convictions. At its core, science is a tool for seeking answers. It is at its best when it openly presents results for review, sparks debate, and is free to speak truth to power. In the modern world, science is increasingly collaborative, and thrives when people have the freedom to work together across borders in the search for answers to difficult and fundamental questions.
The March for Science in London is a celebration of progress, raising awareness of the accomplishments and impact of science over time. It is not about scientists or politicians; instead it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world. This march is part of the global movement that recognises the need to preserve the productive and diverse research partnerships in the UK and around the world.
Want to join in the March for Science in London? Here’s the plan:
- When: Saturday 22 April 2017
- Where: From the Science Museum to Parliament Square in central London
- Who: Science enthusiasts, scientists and anyone who wants to celebrate the role science plays in our everyday life
We are asking that marchers register so that we can have an accurate count to ensure that we have the proper services available. You can register here, or keep up to date with the plans on the official London March for Science Facebook event.
The current situation in the US has led scientists to call for a March for Science on Washington (see related Naturejobs blog post), creating an opportunity for us to march in solidarity, whilst highlighting other issues impacting the UK.
The need for science to develop solutions to global threats, from climate change to the increase in an aging population facing long-term health conditions, is greater than ever.
We need the scientific community to come together with the public to celebrate the role of science and stand up for the ability to pursue answers to some of the biggest challenges we face.
Want to know why other Londoners are marching? Here are a few reasons:
“I am marching as I believe our knowledge of the world and ourselves comes down to science. The more we learn about all elements of life, the more solutions we can find. Not only do we need to protect science, we need to help it grow and become an inherent part of our world, in government and everyday lives.”
– Louis Sherman, geography graduate interested in an MSc in disaster management
“There are number of issues facing the world, like climate change, that require both scientific solutions and government support. It’s crucial that we remind politicians to listen to expertise from the scientific community, whether scientist or concerned citizen. These decisions affect us all.”
– Stephanie Davey, psychology student
“I’ll be marching for the hundreds of thousands of nameless scientists both past and present that have saved so many lives and have made the amazing world we live in today possible. They are heroes that rarely get the recognition they deserve.”
– Samantha Kathleen Findlay, practice manager
“I also march in solidarity with the people in the US whose ideals and principles are shared by scientists and science enthusiasts around the world and who need to know that we will stand beside them and help with everything we can to overcome these tough times.”
– Theodor Avram, IT analyst
“I’ll be marching because the environment has to be the most important thing on everyone’s agenda; without it, we will no longer have a home. Climate change deniers are a threat to each and every one of us, and to our children, and we need to stand up and show them that they are in the minority.”
– Johanna Spiers, qualitative psychologist at the University of Bristol
“After he was fired for his famous Equasy article, I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture by Prof Nutt at the RI where he said we’ve moved from ‘evidence based policy making to policy based evidence making.’ […] As it has turned out it was a profoundly prophetic statement that applies almost everywhere I look now. Those words haunted me when he said them and they do more so every day. […] I now feel duty-bound to act.”
– Nick Amiss, biochemistry graduate and BioPharma employee
“When governments from nations like the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and so on continue to create policies lacking in evidence based science, abolish policies and departments aimed at protecting our communities and environment we have a duty to fight back. How can we justify allowing these elected officials the uncontested power to destroy our world?”
– Elizabeth Brown, chemistry student
“My family will be marching because Trump’s climate change denial and the UK’s departure from the EU mean we’re in worrying times for global science. We’re marching in support of support evidence-based decision-making, empirical science on an international level and a continued focus on climate change research and action.”
– Anna Milan, copywriter
“I’ll be marching because science is something to be celebrated, not feared. It is to be shared freely and openly for everyone’s benefit, not manipulated, politicised, or slandered for the benefit of individuals. It is the best tool mankind has ever developed, and when combined with collaboration, curiosity, and creativity, it allows us to do truly, truly amazing things.”
– Kimberley Bartholomew, London march media leader and former meteorologist (now producer of science documentaries)
In addition to the London march, there are marches organising so far in Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Loughborough, and Manchester.
Here’s a quick update from Cardiff:
“The foundation of science is evidence: the collection and collation of evidence, the critical analysis of evidence and the use of evidence to make theories and guide decision making. At a time when the very foundations of science are being politically, financially, and socially challenged it is important to show our support for STEM. The march we are organising in Cardiff will be a celebration of science in Wales with particular emphasis on Wales’ role in the global science community and on the importance of diversity, inclusivity and international collaboration. #Welshscienceisworldscience.
We are aiming to create a fun, informative and inspirational event that is open and accessible to all. We will show our solidarity with scientists affected by anti-science policies all round the world, not just in the US, and we will demonstrate Wales’ commitment to STEM, to the environment and to truth.”
– Jenny Wymant, postdoctoral researchers in cell biology, and an organiser of the Cardiff march
Can you help spread the word and continue the fantastic support for science? We need to raise £8,000 to make the march happen in London. This covers the permissions, security and the stage and speakers at the end of the route. Please donate using the secure form
Story Sylwester is an MSc student in paleopathology, studying the history of disease through skeletal material, at Durham University.
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