Triad residents March for ScienceBy Chanel Davis, Peacemaker Contributor / April 27, 2017
Triad residents descended on downtown Greensboro in the name of Science on Saturday morning as hundreds came to participate in the March for Science. Signs that read, “Science Trumps Alternative Facts” and “Demand Evidence and Think Critically” filled the center of the city’s downtown governmental plaza.
The event was one of hundreds of satellite marches around the world in conjunction with the national March for Science in Washington, D.C. The march is an advocacy based movement that calls for science to uphold the common good and for political leaders and policy makers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest. The best way to ensure science will influence policy is to encourage people to appreciate and engage with science, but that can only happen through education, communication, and ties of mutual respect between scientists and their communities, according to the national March for Science Web site.
Dr. Joseph Graves Jr., co-organizer of the event and associate dean of research at the joint N.C. A&T SU/UNC-G school of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, said that he was happy with the number of people and feedback he received.
“It’s really important that the people in Greensboro understand how important the scientific enterprise is to our day to day wellbeing and quite frankly the danger our society is in when we have a government that wants to deny basic facts and shut down scientific research so it can implement its repressive policies,” Graves said.
The rally and march included speeches from local students and scientists from North Carolina A&T State University, University of North Carolina-Greensboro and other local education and scientific organizations, along with performances by the Disaster Recovery Band, Viva La Muerte and Sage Advice for the Kid Revolution.
Imani Sharpe, a graduate student at the joint school of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, presented at the event as a student scientist. Her love of taking things apart and seeing how they worked helped her decide on her field of study. She will be the first person in her family to earn a Ph.D.
“Throughout my life my mother taught me to thirst for knowledge. She has strategically ingrained the love of science into me, from sending me to space camp to exposing me to robotics at an early age,” Sharpe said. “Like me, many excel at multiple things like arts, sports and science. I focused on science because I realized that I was approaching everything in life with my own scientific process. As the next generation of scientists, we have the responsibility to educate and inform others about the value of science.
Kess Thongteum attended the rally bringing her 8 and 5-year-old daughters along. For her, the event was about showing her children they should stand for what they believe.
“We are here to support ethical science. I think whoever is not paying attention to science is in the darkness because science is the light to our future,” Thongteum said. “It’s important for kids to understand that if you don’t agree with something in our current government that you don’t have to standby but you can make a difference by speaking out.”
Kristen Flippin, a Winston-Salem resident and graduate school student who works in social science, said that she came out to support all the social sciences.
“I’ve been amazed at all the people with awesome signs and who have their children here. The issue impacts me as a graduate student because without funding I can’t do a lot of the medical research needed,” Flippin said.
Another Winston-Salem resident, Leroy Plock, said that he attended to support evidenced based decision making and promote critical thinking.
“The internet, instead of providing greater access to information and knowledge, has in many ways had the opposite effect because people also have access to all kinds of nonsense,” Plock said. “Our schools have not taught people critical thinking and skepticism so they don’t have the tools to separate facts from nonsense. Science helps us do that.”
Like Plock, Graves believes that the future of our democracy is at stake.
“Whether we are going to be a democracy or something else will be decided in the next ten years I would say. We have a legislature that feels like they can do or pass whatever they want,” Graves said. The purpose of having this march is to talk to the people and tell them it’s time for new political formations. One that is for the people and their best interest.”