Hundreds of cities worldwide plan to host the second annual “March for Science” this Saturday. It’s expected to be smaller and quieter than last year’s march, when more than one million people took to the streets. But organizers say it’s about keeping up the momentum. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny spoke with two local coordinators of Flagstaff’s march.
PARKER: I’m Jackie Parker, I’m a PhD student at NAU. I study biological sciences and ecology.
MOTYKA: My name is Pete Motyka, I’m also a PHD student at NAU, studying tick borne disease.
PARKER: This Saturday at 2pm we’ll be meeting at the Thorpe Park ramada, and from there we’ll be marching down Aspen Street and convening at the City Hall lawn, to hear some of our speakers talk about their experiences with science.
MOTYKA: I think it’s really keeping the momentum going. A lot really started last year and happened last year, and people got really excited about what’s going on and that there is this support for science. This year there’s a big push to keep it going.
Is this year’s march, is it a rally, a protest, a celebration?
MOTYKA: It’s a little bit of everything. The beautiful thing about it, anyone can come out and support—well, it’s for supporting science, but we’re all coming from different backgrounds, we’re all coming with different motivations, and that’s great. The diversity is what makes science so wonderful for me.
PARKER: But we do want to say we’re not just a celebration. We as scientists and science enthusiasts and community members want to come out and share some of our concerns.
So you’re both scientists, or training to be scientists, and a lot of times we think about scientists working in a lab or working in the field. What makes you want to get out and march in the streets?
PARKER: A lot of scientists in the community are pretty concerned about censorship of our research. Recently the word “evidence based” was told to be left out of scientific publication, and that’s concerning, because evidence-based or science-based shouldn’t be a dirty word…. Evidence-based policy making should be the norm. But unfortunately that may or may not be so.
MOTYKA: Yeah, so the funding is a huge issue. We’re concerned about what they might cut. They’re talking about cutting the NIH and the NSF and the EPA, all these different organizations that fund science. That is a very important political issue. And it affects not only us scientists but everyone who can benefit from the science we’re doing.
How do you think marching can help address these issues?
PARKER: Making people informed and aware and sharing our stories as scientists is important, because as you mentioned earlier, sometimes we have the reputation of being holed up in our laboratories or stuck up on top of an ivory tower, and watching the world go by without us. I think we as a scientific community are realizing that we can no longer do that, that we must be engaged, that we need to be more visible and available to our communities.
MOTYKA: For me, there’s two big parts of it. First is letting the politicians and everyone know, we as scientists, we are strong, we are a community, we are standing together, and we will stand up for what we believe and what we think is right. On the other hand it’s also a community event…. So this march is great way for people to stop and think about, what does science really mean to me? We can come together hopefully in a huge mass on Saturday and talk about it and get excited about it, and stand together as a community.
Marches are also planned in Phoenix, Tucson and Show Low.