Politics and activism will join forces at ‘March for Science’ on Earth Day

A boy holds a sign at the Women’s March on Washington urging the support of scientific research. Photo: Twitter/ @LDmay 

The April 22 nationwide March for Science event is meant to “urge policy, educational, and community leaders to put science at the forefront,” one organizer said.

Saturday’s worldwide March for Science rallies will coincide with Earth Day, and that’s no coincidence. Organizers formed the March for Science political movement to counter President Donald Trump’s efforts to undo many environmental and climate regulations.

The scientific community has increasingly found itself under fire, organizers say. So this year, instead of simply marking a day to celebrate the Earth, they will use the April 22 event to mix politics with activism.

The March for Science will take place in Washington, D.C. and more than 500 locations across the globe, including Boston, New York and Philadelphia. The goal, organizers say, is a nonpartisan effort to shape new policies concerning science and education. “We join together to urge policy, educational, and community leaders to put science at the forefront when making decisions,” said Ashley Ciulla, a co-chairwoman of Boston’s Science March who conducts research at Harvard Medical School and MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer. 

On the March for Science homepage, there is a sense of urgency behind the message: “In the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery, we might ask instead: can we afford not to speak out in its defense?”

Some critics, such as Joe Funderburk, an entomologist at the University of Florida,   have urged against speaking out, believing that science “must be free of bias. It must be free of political passion.”  Supporters like Michèle Lamont, a Harvard University professor and the president of the American Sociological Association, say all they’ve heard from other scientists is to make the event more political.  The ASA is a partner of Washington’s March for Science, and Lamont said she reached out to all the heads of university sociology departments around the county, urging them to participate.

The Boston area has the largest concentration of academic institutions in the country, and many of them “depend on federal dollars for a good part of their activities and research,” she said. “So the concern here is very high.”

Ciulla said the issue was too important for her to remain silent. “The passion that scientists of all kinds harbor for their work and for the people they are helping is so incredibly real,” she said. “The benefits to humanity are so important and worth fighting for. Scientists coming together to fight for all of the progress we have made, and will make, is absolutely worth a couple of hours of your time.”

March for Science in the U.S. & around the World

On Earth Day, April 22, the March for Science will include more than 500 marches in the U.S. and across the world. The event is in partnership with the Earth Day Network, the Nature Conservancy, the National Center for Science Education, and other organizations.

Boston March for Science begins at 1PM at the Boston Common. About 75,000 people responded they would attend on the group’s Facebook page. The event will stay within the area of the Common and include a main rally with speakers, music performances and a “Kids Zone.”

New York March for Science rally and staage area 10:30AM at West 62nd Street and Central Park West. About 11,000 people responded they would attend on the group’s Facebook page. New York’s March will head down Central Park West onto Broadway via Columbus Circle and finish at 52nd Street and Broadway.

Philadelphia March for Science 10AM at the south side of City Hall. About 6,000 people responded they would attend on the group’s Facebook page. Philadelphia’s March will start at City Hall,and end at Penn’s Landing Great Plaza.

For a full list of events, visit the March for Science website.

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