WASHINGTON (April 5, 2018)—Over the past year, a wave of activism and protests have brought more people off the sidelines and into the political process—and the science community is no exception. Today, scientists and community groups across the country are launching a new national mobilization effort, Science Rising, in advance of the November midterm elections. The initiative will tap into this growing energy and put it to work in the interest of science and justice.
Science Rising events, organized locally by a wide variety of groups, will include trainings, rallies and direct engagement with elected officials. All of the events will seek to build a broader movement to support the use of science in policy.
“The threats to science—and the science-based policies we rely on—are real, and it’s clear that those of us who want to see science serve the public need to get engaged,” said Melissa Varga, community manager for the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Science Network and one of the Science Rising organizers. “The facts don’t just speak for themselves. We can’t take it for granted that science will be put to work for the public good—we have to demand it. And the science community has never been more energized and ready to do just that.”
The Science Rising website will act as a hub for actions and events and offer resources to help scientists and community activists defend the role of science in democracy. As the fall elections approach, Science Rising partners will mobilize pro-science voters and challenge elected officials and candidates to support science.
“It's absolutely critical for those of us engaged in the science policy sphere to be able to coordinate our efforts,” said Zachary Knecht, a Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience at Brandeis University. “As a young scientist working to engage in policy, one of the central challenges has been reaching groups outside my institutional peers. Science Rising provides a centralized platform to advertise events, share ideas and ultimately increase cooperation between those of us working to promote scientific engagement.”
Science plays a vital role in public policy—ensuring clean air and water, providing safe and healthy food, monitoring weather and natural disasters, fighting disease, and projecting the future impacts of climate change so communities can prepare and reduce their risks. When science gets sidelined, there are real consequences. Science Rising partners will push throughout the year to make sure elected officials at every level understand that science matters to all of us.
“We see the critical role that science and facts play in the development of federal regulations on a daily basis, across hundreds of federal agencies,” said Mary Fisher, a molecular ecologist who leads the Public Comment Project. “This is why we are excited to be part of the Science Rising movement—to encourage people to contribute their own expertise and knowledge to these decision-making processes, and to promote that engagement as a long-term effort to advocate for evidence-based policy.”