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Local March for Science brings the conversation to the community

March for Science organizers in Wooster gathered to work on posters they plan to display during the downtown rally on April 22. Representatives on the local planning committee include Niklas Manz, left, Kristin Feierabend, Paul Bonvallet and Lyn Loveless.

Karen Skubik

Imagine a world without cell phones, electricity, medicine, navigation, refrigerators and running water. So much of modern life as we know it is a product of science.

But there are people who feel science is currently under attack with budget cuts, censorship of researchers, disappearing data sets and threats to dismantle environmental agencies. So scientists and scientific societies across the U.S. have declared April 22 (Earth Day) to be a day to March for Science.

As with many recent marches, plans for the March for Science focused on gathering in the nation’s capital, but College of Wooster professor Mark Snider said, “Rather than participate in a March for Science in Washington, D.C., I thought it was important to bring the conversations to our community. Science, evidence-based policy decisions, and recognizing and valuing truth are cornerstones of a strong society, and it is important for our community to consider the importance of supporting science for a strong future for all.”

The local planning committee for the Wooster March includes members of both the scientific community as well as the community at large.

“Wooster is unique in a town its size because it hosts two colleges: the College of Wooster and The Ohio State University, both OARDC and ATI, said Lyn Loveless, retired professor of biology. “Agricultural science in particular is crucial to our economy and to our livelihoods. And lots of other science-based enterprises are located here too: Smuckers, Luk, Timken Bearing, Fritos, Prentke Romich and many more.”

College of Wooster assistant professor of physics Niklas Manz discussed why he was interested in helping to plan the nonpartisan event. “We need to convince people that science isn’t the enemy and that science is based on verifiable facts,” he said.

A rally at the gazebo on the corners of Liberty and Market streets is open to all and will kick off at 2 p.m. with a slate of speakers from a range of scientific fields. “This is a great opportunity for kids and folks of all ages to see democracy in action,” said organizer Angie Bos, associate professor of political science at the College of Wooster.

After the rally Kristin Feierabend from the College of Wooster’s chemistry department said, “We will march through the city center to break-out Science Action sessions led by local scientists and science-minded citizens.”

Topics of the smaller groups will address a whole suite of local and regional issues including economics of environmental issues, science and food security, evidence-driven social policy, pseudoscience and fake news, science and habitat in the Great Lakes Region, and climate change.

Loveless explained, “Discussion sessions are designed to prompt conversations that will help us see how crucial scientific information is for us every day.”

“People should come to start the process that we all need to engage in that will bring us back together as a country, biology professor Dean Fraga said. “We certainly do disagree on philosophies and approaches to solving our collective problems, but we should not disagree on what a fact is. A fact doesn’t dictate policy. It informs it. Today’s political polarization has become so bad that we refuse to consider the facts unless they match our opinions.”

Published: April 17, 2017
New Article ID: 2017704179984