The March for Science on 22 April was successful in bringing together thousands of scientists, researchers and concerned citizens to advocate for the cause of Science and evidence-based policy making.
On 22 April, researchers across the world went to the streets in the March for Science, raising concerns about the role of science and scientific evidence in world. Among the reasons for the march were the US election and the Brexit referendum, where many feared that ‘fake news’ or ‘alternative facts’ had replaced evidence-based political arguments:
“[the] freedom and trust, the space that every scientist needs to breathe, are now under pressure”, said Vinod Subramaniam, rector of the Free University of Amsterdam.
The Marches were held in more than 600 cities around the world, many of these in countries with EUA members and with active participation of EUA universities.
In Norway, for instance, Rector at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and EUA Board member Mari Sundli Tveit said: “We must protect the role of universities in promoting open societies and as supporters of democracy and freedom of speech”.
In large European cities with many universities, the marches attracted considerable crowds. In London more than 7,000 marched. France had the second largest mobilisation of marchers after the US with 12,000 persons. To mark the event, EUA collected tweets that showcase universities, institutions and individuals supporting the march in Europe.
Among the reasons why so many universities supported the march could be that research is increasingly under pressure with decreasing funding, lower priority for politicians and adverse societal trends, as EUA Senior Policy Coordinator, Thomas Jørgensen, outlined in an editorial published in Euractiv, He discusses the marginalisation that researchers are facing in the post-factual world and the reasons behind the Science March that are of concern to the society. “The movement is a sign that those on the shop floor of the knowledge society are feeling that political, social and economic developments are making it difficult for them to contribute to society,” Jørgensen analyses.
Continuous efforts have to be made to show the value of science and critical thinking to society. “Scientists and scholars have to fight and counter lies. If we dodge this challenge, we will fail our commitment to society,” EUA President Rolf Tarrach says.