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A march around the world

One of the most inspiring elements of the March for Science was the world-wide community it has created.

Despite attacks on facts and the anti-intellectual ethos promoted by right-wing politicians and their apparatchiks, the Earth Day event elicited hope that rationality would prevail and illuminated commonalities that transcended national boundaries.

Courtesy March for Science.

Truly a global affair, over 600 sites hosted science lovers of all ages, genders, ethnicities and classes, providing a platform and voice for those who feel the scientific method is being denigrated so that private interests may prevail over the public good.

We asked satellite marches to share their experiences, and the response was overwhelming. What follows is an international tour – by no means, exhaustive – a ‘round the world in 140 characters taste of the March for Science.

(With many thanks to all our international correspondents!)


France

While it rained in Washington DC, in Marseille, it was a beautiful, sunny spring afternoon.

500 people assembled in the early afternoon in front of the 18th century city hall, entertained by local musicians from a world music group Pangea.

Aligning behind banners, the throng marched silently along the shore of the Mediterranean following the 2,500-year-old, aptly named Old Port quay towards an immense, mirrored structure called the Ombrière.

Themes of the day included gastronomic physics, the serendipity in scientific discoveries, and the need to push French institutions to support scientists in the public sector.

A noteworthy highlight was the joint reading in English and then French of "On the fifth day,” a poem by the American Jane Hirshfield which she read live from the Washington DC march. 

Germany

In Göttingen, (aka die Stadt, die Wissen schafft) drums led 2,500 marchers through the town of 100,000, ending on the grounds of the University of Göttingen. Prominent members of Göttingen society spoke, including university president Ulrike Beisiegel, Arnulf Quadt, director of the Institute of Physics, and Lower Saxony Minister for Science and Culture, Gabriele Heinen-Kljajic.

<strong> die Stadt, die Wissen schafft - The city that creates knowledge.</strong> Göttingen is a city of science, with more Nobel prize winners than anywhere else in the world. Citizens turned out in force to stand up for science. Courtesy March for Science, Gottingen.Turkish exile H. Pinar Senoguz delivered a pertinent personal message of science under threat, and local historian Ludgar Gaillard described the arc of scientific protest in Göttingen, letting the marchers in the so-called ‘Measurement Valley’ know they were part of a historical movement stretching back for decades.

In Hamburg, about 2,000 marchers streamed in from surrounding Lübeck, Kiel, Bremen, and Oldenburg, braving the typical April weather to point out the need for free research and science, evidence-based politics, and internationality of research.

“University presidents, politicians, journalists, scientists, and the public marched side by side to send a strong, loud, and colorful signal of appreciation for science. It has been a great pleasure to raise and unite our voices as part of this global movement,” say organizers Annika vom Scheidt and Imke Fiedler.

Korea

As it did in Marseille, the rain stayed away for a beautiful morning in the southern port city of Busan, South Korea. Several dozen enthusiastic scientists and boosters from as far away as Goeje Island and Daegu gathered at the Korean War Veterans' Memorial Statue.

“Chants of ‘Science, Not Silence’ and "Korea Supports Science, We Support Science!" could be heard loud and clear to the passers-by,” says march organizer Jennifer Blackman. “Many participants held signs in both English and Korean languages. Overall, it was a fantastic group and we are happy to have been a part of this historic event.”

Denmark

 A chilly gale blew away “alternative facts" in Copenhagen, say the organizers. About 5,000 people strong, their march stretched for over 1 kilometer, starting at the Niels Bohr Institute and streaming to the Parliament.

Live music and howling slogans matched the winds. Protesters verbally attacked a primitive and impoverished economic view of science held by politicians, and chastised the media for not taking science seriously enough.

<strong>Scientists of the Caribbean. </strong> Earth Day was another nice day for a walk on the beach on Puerto Rico. Courtesy March for Science, Puerto Rico.The importance of education was highlighted, and all present agreed that science was fundamentally important for society and threatened by populism. 

Puerto Rico

Embraced by a cool Caribbean breeze, over 600 scientists, students, and citizens young and old flooded the streets of historic Old San Juan to demand evidence-based and locally-informed policies. They marched to connect scientists with citizens and to show that scientists are citizens too. 

“The energy was contagious,” says Mónica I. Feliú-Mójer. “Demonstrators were singing popular songs — with a science twist — to the rhythm of traditional plena hand drums. Cars were honking their horns in support, and the message we sent by marching in Old San Juan was heard loud and clear: The community of cienciaboricua is here to serve our people.”


We'll recap the US science marches next time -- stay tuned!

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