AGU Announces Endorsement of the March for Science

— By Eric Davidson, President, AGU, and Robin Bell, President-Elect, AGU

A few short weeks ago, a group of scientists on Reddit and Twitter were looking for a way to speak publicly in support of science, research, and evidence-based policy in light of recent communications and actions taken by the new administration and Congress. These discussions sparked a massive outpouring of support and ultimately grew into the March for Science in Washington, D. C. (as well as numerous satellite marches around the world), now scheduled to take place on Earth Day, 22 April. As the movement gathered momentum, American Geophysical Union (AGU) members began to ask if AGU would formally endorse the march.

After consultation with the event organizers, and an in-depth review of principles and goals for the march and the activities planned, AGU’s Executive Committee formally endorsed the primary March for Science in Washington, D. C. The march strongly aligns with and reinforces AGU’s own mission and our core values of scientific integrity, the free and open exchange of science, diversity and inclusion, informing policy with evidence-based science, and the value of investing in scientific research and education for the benefit of humanity. In choosing to endorse the event, AGU joins a growing number of scientific societies and organizations, including 500 Women Scientists, the American Association Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Anthropological Association, Cochrane Collaboration, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Research!America, Sigma Xi, Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, Union of Concerned of Scientists, and many more.

In addition to the Washington, D. C., event, nearly 300 independently organized satellite Marches for Science have sprung up across the country and around the globe. Organizers of the Washington, D. C. march are taking steps to assure that the overarching messages of the event on the National Mall are positive, inclusive, and focused on the contribution that science makes to society as well as core values such as scientific integrity. While the satellite marches have agreed to abide by the same positive principles and goals, AGU has less opportunity to influence their implementation, and so we are not currently planning to formally endorse these marches. However, AGU is working on plans to bring together and support members who want to participate, wherever the march is located.

We hope that many of you will choose to join us on the National Mall on 22 April or participate in a march closer to home. In the coming days and weeks, we will share more information about resources and communications—such as how to download and print posters; volunteer opportunities before, during, and after the event; and how to participate We welcome your suggestions about how to effectively engage members and others in the Washington, D. C. and satellite marches and how to continue that engagement after the march.

This is a unique moment for AGU, the scientific community, our nation, and the world. The March for Science presents AGU with a very real, high-profile opportunity to, as AGU CEO Chris McEntee wrote in her From The Prow post following the election, “call on our elected leaders to remember the role science plays in our society and to support scientific innovation and discovery, and the people and programs that make it possible.”

21 Responses to “AGU Announces Endorsement of the March for Science”

  1. Dan Auerbach

    It is critical that professional scientific organizations support this. Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Callan Bentley

    Bravo. Thank you for bravely putting the weight of the Union behind this.

    Reply
  3. Anne Nolin

    I’m so pleased to see AGU leadership supporting the March for Science. Having the backing of the largest organization of Earth and Space scientists in the world really matters. Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Wendy Bohon

    Thank you AGU. It is imperative that scientific organizations publicly support science and scientists!

    Reply
  5. Lewis E. Gilbert

    I appreciate that the AGU leadership has taken time to come to a considered position with respect to the March(es) for Science. Indeed the current political and social climates are remarkably challenging for those of us whose life work orbits around disciplined thought and a deep commitment to advancing human understanding of the world around us. The presidential election and the early days of the Trump administration clearly indicate that large sections of our society do not share the scientific world view and are in some cases quite hostile to it.

    At the Institute on the Environment we are committed to work that both advances fundamental understanding of the Earth system and removes knowledge barriers encountered by our non-academic partners. This endeavor requires that our inquiries begin with the formation of partnerships and knowledge relationships with actors beyond the academy who often have a very different relationship with knowledge than our own. In our conversations with our scholars, one of our more activist researchers, who works closely with a very broad spectrum of the agricultural sector, noted that participation or endorsement of the Marches would likely make his work more difficult. As I have thought about this, I have come to agree with his concern quite strongly.

    The Marches run the very high risk of amplifying the notion of Science as a special interest group and of widening the divide between the academy and other knowledge holders in our societies. I believe that it is imperative that we think hard about why rational thought as we (scientists) recognize it can be so strongly discounted. I seriously doubt that doubling down on our privileged position with respect to the Truth is the best strategy.

    As the Marches go forward I sincerely hope that the disciplined thought that is at the core of what scientists do will be brought to the messaging. And I hope that result will be messaging that highlights the creativity and beauty of our work in such a way our non-academic partners will see some of themselves in our culture.

    Reply
  6. Richaed Johnson

    I agree with all the commenters. Thank you to AGU for backing the march!

    Reply
  7. Gregory Cutter

    Let’s do it! AGU’s backing is important to me as a geoscientist and a citizen.

    Reply
  8. Christine Siddoway

    AGU’s support and leadership is crucial. Thank you to AGU President Eric Davidson and President-elect Robin Bell for their statement and committed representation of AGU’s mission and core values, that emphasize scientific integrity, free and open exchange of science, diversit, inclusion and an evidence-based policy-making process.

    Reply
    • Russell Seitz

      How do diversity, inclusiion, and a free and open exchange of science figure in a partisan decision to endorse a blatantly political march?

      The President & President elect should be held accountable for rejecting a core value vital to the AGU’s public duty to render disinterested geophysical advice :

      As a matter of fact, as well as principle, the he political neutrality of scientific institutions must first exist, in order to be respected.

      Reply
  9. Vincent Coyne

    What recent actions by the administration and congress are you referring to???

    Reply
    • Joshua Speiser

      Dear Vincent,

      Please see the following From the Posts for information about spcicific Administration/Congressional actions that of concerns to the Earth and space science community as well AGU’s responses from leadership:

      – U.S. AGENCY NOMINATIONS AND THE STATE OF SCIENCE
      – AGU, GSA RESPOND TO IMMIGRATION BAN’S IMPACT ON SCIENCE
      – CONGRESS TAKES NOTICE OF SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY
      – AGU URGES U.S. AGENCIES TO PROTECT SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY AND OPEN COMMUNICATION OF SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION

      Reply
  10. Russell Seitz

    How do diversity, inclusiion, and a free and open exchange of science figure in a partisan decision to endorse a blatantly political march?

    The President & President elect should be held accountable for rejecting a core value vital to the AGU’s public duty to render disinterested geophysical advice :

    As a matter of fact, as well as principle, the he political neutrality of scientific institutions must first exist, in order to be respected

    Reply
    • Nathan Phillips

      Russell, who said “partisan” here other than you?

      Reply
  11. Gilbert O'Sughrue

    This is a very positive step and great to see scientists standing up and voicing their accord for scientific methods, principles and values. Too often, scientists are barely heard or mis-represented by media. Remind the masses of your love for your work and humanity. It will make a difference.

    Reply
  12. Darold E Ward

    Fantastic response! Every effort needs to be made to educate our Congressional Delegates. We’re seemingly at a critical junction where a turn backward instead of forward will destroy so many gains in the stabilization and possibly reduction in our carbon footprint and other environmental impacts. Let’s speak loud and clear how important a strong demonstration is to protecting our planet……

    Reply
  13. Tom Bjorklund

    Why was not the membership surveyed before an Executive Committee endorsement? More importantly, has anyone on the executive committee reviewed the facts, identified a problem, determined that it is an AGU problem and that a “March for Science” is an appropriate way to address the problem. If so, what is the problem, and where is the analysis?

    This decision seems to be an exercise in groupthink or possibly twitterthink. Did outside pressure from politicians or others enter into reaching the decision? If some scientists see a threat to the core values of the AGU, then spell it out. From this news article, I have not the foggiest notion of what the “March for Science” is about. The word petulant comes to mind. God help America if a “March on Science” (in lockstep?} somehow represents the core values of the AGU.

    Reply
  14. Foster Morrison

    Science claims to be objective, but on a number of issues it is “politically correct.” This has been true in our realm of liberal capitalism, as well as those of communism, fascism, and various other ideologies with their own versions of political correctness. So the march is a good way to interact with other segments of society which have their own biases and ideologies. Science is a good way to establish certain facts, but it has no special capabilities in setting values, which are inherently subjective. Religion, philosophy, and ideology attempt to do that, with mixed results. They could learn a lot from science, but science could learn a lot from them.

    Reply
  15. Haraldur Sigurdsson

    Scientists like to stay above the fray, but this is a different time. We must take action and voice our concerns, loud and clear.

    Reply
  16. Henry Dick

    My original post seems not to have appeared though I certainly entered it correctly.

    I think this is very unwise and blatantly political. I was at the AGU and the AAAS meeting and was confronted by individuals handing out fliers for the marches. The contents referred to Trump and company as Fascists. The news reported unprecedented turnouts for these local marches, but in fact the numbers were in the ball park of 100 each – how many were actually scientists is unknown.

    I am also bothered about our organization being associated with the American Anthropological Association – an association populated with ultraliberals and a very bad ethical track record. For those of you unaware they are infamous for their treatment of the Internationally famous anthropologist Napolean Chagnon of the University of Michigan, perpetuating a vicious and totally unfounded smear that he was practicing eugenics and murder against the native tribe he was studying in Venezuela – charges that stopped his studies there. In fact it turned out that AAA knew these charges had no credibility put perpetuated them none the less. AAAS on the other hand came down firmly on Chagnon’s side and slammed the AAA.

    Republicans have traditionally been better for science funding than Democrats, as was covered in a Science editorial last year. This is hardly the time to be slapping them in the face. No one knows what Trump and the Republicans will do, but biting the hand that feeds you is never good policy.

    Reply

Leave a Reply