The March for Science, set for 22 April, is creating a buzz in the scientific community. The march arose as a grassroots reaction to concerns about the conduct of science under President Donald Trump. And it has spurred debate over whether it will help boost public support for research, or make scientists look like another special interest group, adding to political polarization.
Leaders of many scientific societies have been mulling whether to formally endorse or take a role in the event, which will include marches in Washington, D.C. and some 400 other locations.
ScienceInsider has been tracking what science groups decide.
Here's what we know as of 15 March (most recent updates at the top of each section):
Say they are supporting the march
On 15 March, the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Washington, D.C., announced its support for march, “predicated on two essential conditions.” One stipulation by the 157,000-member society is that the march must “adhere strictly to its established and publicly posted mission and principles.” The other is that the event must “be a nonpartisan celebration of science.” The ACS conditions reflect concerns expressed by some experts that such a large, grassroots movement will struggle to stay on message.
March for Science announced its second round of partners 14 March, bringing the list of organizations who will participate in the international pro-science demonstration close to 100. The newest batch includes science education and outreach centers, like the California Academy of Sciences and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, along with advocacy groups and science societies. The list meshes new supporters with a handful that had individually announced their partnerships over the last few weeks.
It is the second major list of partners released by the March for Science, following an announcement on 23 February of 26 groups, which included AAAS (publisher of ScienceInsider), which has about 100,000 members, and the American Geophysical Union (AGU), which has about 60,000 members.
“We see the activities collectively known as the March as a unique opportunity to communicate the importance, value and beauty of science,” AAAS CEO Rush Holt wrote in a statement on the website of the Washington, D.C.–based organization, which bills itself as the largest general science society in the world. Participation “is in keeping with AAAS’ long-standing mission to ‘advance science, engineering and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.'”
“This is a unique moment for AGU, the scientific community, our nation, and the world,” AGU President Eric Davidson and President-elect Robin Bell wrote in a statement on the website of the organization, also based in Washington, D.C. The March “presents … a very real, high-profile opportunity to 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,” wrote AGU CEO Chris McEntee.
“We are proud to join with our colleagues in all disciplines to champion the ideals that science is critical to societal and human rights, and is a pillar in educating and protecting us,” reads a statement released 1 March by the American Association of Geographers in Washington, D.C., which has about 12,000 members.
Another group, the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) of about 1700 members, canceled a plenary lecture at their annual meeting, scheduled in New Orleans, Louisiana, this year, so that organization leaders can accompany conference attendees to the local march, AAPA Vice President Josh Snodgrass told ScienceInsider.
On 2 March, the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) in Washington, D.C., endorsed the march and encouraged its 37,000 members to participate. The move followed a unanimous decision by the organization’s governing council. “The Council believes that support for the March is consistent with the Society’s founding principles, which include promoting the essentiality of open exchange of scientific ideas and global scientific collaboration, the importance of evidence and experimental data as a foundation for decision-making, and nonpartisan advocacy for sustained, robust funding for science,” wrote SfN President Eric Nestler in a statement on the society website.
On 28 February, the Society for Freshwater Science (SFS) in Logan, Utah, formally endorsed the march. "For those SFSers that march, SFS will be preparing a series of short statements (suitable for signs, buttons, t-shirts) that call particular attention to recent efforts to roll back environmental protections for U.S. freshwaters (WOTUS and the stream protection rule) that are in clear disregard of the best available science," SFS President Emily S. Bernhardt and President-elect Colden Baxter wrote in a statement."We would appreciate your creative suggestions for pithy, eye catching and reasonable statements."
- The American Statistical Association (ASA) in Alexandria, Virginia. ASA “endorses the stated purposes of the 22 April March for Science as a celebration of our passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community,” reads a statement on ASA’s website (nearly 19,000 members).
- The American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) supports the march and canceled a plenary lecture at their annual meeting, scheduled in New Orleans, Louisiana, this year, so that organization leaders can accompany conference attendees to the local march, AAPA Vice President Josh Snodgrass told Science (about 1700 members).
- The Association for Psychological Science in Washington, D.C. “We stand with all of the other disciplines in the scientific community in support of the march and are helping to get the word out via social media. And we are brainstorming about other ways to help,” the organization’s executive director, Sarah Brookhart, wrote in an email (about 33,000 members).
- The American Sociological Association in Washington, D.C., has endorsed the march in a statement on its website (more than 13,000 members).
The Electrochemical Society (ECS) in Pennington, New Jersey. “The ECS fully endorses the March for Science’s non-partisan, non-violent, educational, and diversity goals and encourages its members to adhere to these values as they get involved in one of the numerous marches taking place throughout the world,” reads a statement on the society’s website (more than 8,500 members).
The Entomological Society of America (ESA) in Annapolis, Maryland. “We have an obligation to promote the responsible conduct of science and speak out against any proposed interference with the free exchange of scientific knowledge," said ESA President Susan Weller in a statement on the organization’s website (more than 6,000 members).
Say they are thinking about it, but no decision yet
The Optical Society (OSA) in Washington, D.C. “We are still considering at this time if or how we will get involved. In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the news for planning updates,” Rebecca Andersen, OSA’s public relations director, wrote in an email (more than 20,000 members).
The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) in Rockville, Maryland. “Although we have a date and a compelling mission statement, there’s a lot that has yet to be worked out,” noted ASPB Chief Executive Officer Crispin Taylor in an email. “That said, to the extent that the march organizers maintain their emphasis on a positive and apolitical message regarding empirical science and its role in decision making, I expect that, at a minimum, ASPB will support the participation of its members in the march.” (about 4000 members).
The American Institute of Physics (AIP) in College Park, Maryland. “We simply do not know much about this march yet,” wrote AIP Chief Executive Officer Robert Brown in an email. But he noted that AIP staff is “free to exercise their free speech by participating in this demonstration as individuals.” (a federation of 10 societies that, combined, have more than 120,000 members).
- The American Chemical Society (ACS) in Washington, D.C. “The American Chemical Society is impressed with [the] number of individuals who have already voiced their support for science and the march—it is a testament to the grassroots organizing power of social media. ACS is currently seeking to gain greater insight into the goals and messaging of the march to determine if there is an appropriate role for the Society,” reads a statement from ACS (more than 157,000 members).
- The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) in Washington, D.C. “This isn’t something we’re currently planning on getting involved in, as an association,” wrote Jeff Lieberson, the organization’s vice president of public affairs, in an email to ScienceInsider. APLU includes 238 institutions, including many major research universities.
- The American Physiological Society (APS) in Bethesda, Maryland. 22 April is the first day of the APS annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois, which could create a conflict for the society’s members, APS Communications Manager Stacy Brooks wrote in an email. She noted that it’s not clear whether APS will play a role in the march and that the society has not been contacted by march organizers, adding, “We hope that the energy generated by the March inspires more people to advocate on behalf of research and discovery for many years to come.” (about 10,500 members).
- “At this point, we are not engaged with” the march, says a spokesperson for the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States, a nonprofit research organization based in Fairbanks, Alaska.
So far no organizations have explicitly come out against the march. But American Institute of Physics Chief Executive Robert Brown suggested in an email that any “inflammatory demonstrations will cause negative retaliations.”