On April 22, 2017, hundreds of thousands of scientists and supporters of science, including many members of the Society for Conservation Biology’s North America section (SCBNA), will march together in Washington, DC and 400 other locations around the world. They will be marching as advocates for open, inclusive, and accessible science, and to affirm that science is a crucial resource for developing evidence-based policy and regulations that are in the public interest. Although the March for Science is nonpartisan, it offers an opportunity to push back against recent efforts to undermine scientific integrity efforts to undermine scientific integrity and prevent scientists from speaking publicly. Marchers realize that their research as scientists must be coupled with education, communication, and ties of mutual respect between scientists and their communities. More information on the goals of the March can be found here.
The March presents a unique opportunity for public engagement by SCBNA members as a community of conservation professionals, in order to defend the importance of evidence-based decision making in safeguarding the Earth’s biological diversity. SCBNA, along with 30 other scientific organizations, was an early endorser of the North American march efforts. (The global SCB organization has not yet formally endorsed the global March but is considering doing so). SCBNA is actively networking with its members and chapters to assist them with their organizing around the March. Many members and chapters are already moving forward with participation in the more than 200 local North American marches.
The march is a grassroots effort spearheaded by SCBNA members and others from the science community. You can find out if there is a march near you or start one here, and find a ride to the march here. We’d like to hear from you via a short survey if you plan to participate in the DC or a local March. We will use this information to help network, publicize, and increase SCBNA involvement in the DC and local marches. If you use social media, please publicize the march using the hashtag #marchforscience.
A single day of events is only a small step towards furthering the goals of the March. The March will be followed by a week of opportunities for scientists to meet with legislators. The following Saturday, April 29, a second event, the People’s Climate March, will occur in Washington, DC. SCBNA is preparing more information to share with members on follow-up actions scientists and science advocates can do after the March. SCBNA has a long history of advocating for scientific integrity in conservation policy-making. SCBNA currently is active in the Integrity in Science Working Group (ISWG). ISWG is a coalition of scientific societies and good government, public health, environmental, and other public interest organizations working to create a movement around defending the role of science in a democracy. The Union of Concerned Scientists, a co-founder of ISWG, is hosting a scientist training on Friday, April 21, on how to have effective in-district meetings with members of Congress. Please fill out this RSVP if you would like to attend the DC training (in person or via livestream). UCS is also organizing Capitol Hill meetings for experts who want to talk with their legislators on aspects of the federal budget crucial to our ability to monitor and respond to climate change. If you are interested, please apply here.
The March involves a broad coalition of groups, with varied missions that may not entirely align with SCBNA’s priorities. SCBNA members and other scientists have identified areas that need improvement in regards to the DC March and the way it has addressed equity, inclusion, and diversity. In endorsing the March, SCBNA has also committed to proactively engage with March organizers and participants of both the DC and local marches to improve the manner in which March activities address equity, inclusion, and diversity (see a good discussion of these issues here). SCBNA will push for a more robust engagement with these issues, which would include better articulating the mission of the march; and improved logistics of the march in DC that would support inclusion and safety for underrepresented groups. We encourage SCBNA members in other areas to communicate with and support their local organizers in ensuring that local marches are inclusive, equitable, and diverse. SCBNA is also working towards equity, inclusion, and diversity goals in other venues, such as the new national Diversity Joint Venture, a partnership with federal, state, NGO, universities, and scientific societies to increase the diversity in the conservation workforce.
SCBNA is also working with the new group 500 Women Scientists to advance diversity in the STEM fields. In the days following the US election, five women scientists with Colorado roots wrote an open letter to pledge their resolve to push for equality and continued scientific progress in the wake of rising sexist, discriminatory and anti-intellectualist sentiments. In the ensuing three months, over 18,000 women scientists from 109 countries (including SCBNA and SCB global board members) have signed their pledge and the group has coalesced into 500 Women Scientists. Their mission is to promote a diverse and inclusive scientific community that brings progressive, science-based solutions to local and global challenges. To achieve this goal, they are working to empower women to grow to their full potential in science, increase scientific literacy through public engagement, and advocate for science and equality. We encourage SCBNA members to support the 500 Women Scientists group by signing the pledge, participating in conference meet-ups, joining local/regional chapters that are organizing around science outreach, mentoring, and advocacy programs, or volunteering to serve on dedicated strike teams for specific issues.