The March for Science is over. What now? ?>

The March for Science is over. What now?

 

ASBMB launches Grassroots Science Advocacy Network

This weekend, champions for science across the world organized in an unprecedented way to advocate for the importance of scientific research, education and funding.

The March for Science suffered many bumps and bruises during its development, especially with regard to diversity and inclusion.  News of organizational upheavals also percolated and exposed some of the problems that occur when movements grapple with coalescing a message under one tent without proper planning, inclusion and foresight.  Additionally, the scientific community itself was split on whether scientists should even be marching in the first place, highlighting some researchers’ aversions to politicizing science.

However, in spite of all this, the march happened, and, while smaller than other recent marches, the March for Science resulted in thousands of science advocates rallying at more than 600 marches across the world.

Members of Congress on Saturday released statements in support of the March for Science, with U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, stating: “I support the right of science supporters to gather and march this weekend. Opening new frontiers of scientific knowledge, on Earth and beyond, will pave the way to a better, more secure future for the next generation.”

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, added, “Though I am disheartened by the fact that there currently is a need to defend the ‘vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments,’ I am thrilled to see such a large and diverse group of people passionate about science, invested in the future of scientific discovery, and committed to the need for science-based policy making.”

One of the most important takeaways from the march is the notion that — if support for science is to continue — researchers must step out of the lab and convince the public, Congress and the current administration of its importance.

Scientists are a minority of the population.  It is common practice for researchers to speak at scientific conferences, participate in poster presentations and share research findings with their colleagues, as an essential part of their job, to move the sciences forward.

What also needs to also be a common practice is explaining to taxpayers why continued investment and increased support  for research funding, STEM education and policies that push scientific research and innovation forward are beneficial to everyone — not just your lab and your sliver of the research enterprise.

The March for Science attempted to drive this message home with speeches from notable figures, including Bill Nye (“the Science Guy”) as well as members of the public who have directly benefited from the innovations that resulted from robust investments in scientific research.

Hopefully the enthusiasm that was ignited by the rhetoric from Donald Trump when he was campaigning to become president and budget proposals from his administration for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 continues, and hopefully the public at large begins to become more of an active advocate for scientific research and education.

To help continue the effort and organize the community, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and its Public Affairs Advisory Committee are launching the ASBMB Grassroots Science Advocacy Network. Members of the network will participate in advocacy training and serve as nodes to the larger network on local and national policy issues.

It’s important that the efforts leading up to the march are not treated as a one-off activity but as a change in the community as a whole.  We hope that, as we move into the days, weeks and months post-March for Science, this new community of advocates will continue making the case for robust scientific research funding and education.

Apply here to join ASBMB and the PAAC as we continue to advocate for the science that benefits the nation’s health and prosperity.

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