Public Discussion of Science Policy Surges Nationwide as Thousands Engage in Science Rising

August 22, 2018 | 9:22 am
Photo: Omari Spears/UCS
Michael Halpern
Former Contributor

The great awakening of the science community is only gaining steam in the wake of increased attacks on science. Since the spring launch of Science Rising, we’ve recorded more than 125 events submitted by 118 organizations around the country who are focused on making sure science is front and center in the decision-making processes that affect us all. As we get closer to the midterm elections, it becomes ever more critical for us to create conversations that encourage elected officials to protect science. Here are 5 Science Rising events you may have missed—and 5 more coming up, including a Twitter chat later today.

Gun Violence Prevention Challenge Summit & Hackathon: In Boston in April, public health advocates, local government officials, and neighborhood residents gathered to discuss evidence-based gun violence prevention solutions. The following day, they held a hack-a-thon to collaborate on innovative local solutions to gun violence. This event, supported by the Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies, demonstrated a creative way to bring together community members and harness their collective power to explore new ways to address the issue.

At a Science Rising event in June, residents of the Amani neighborhood in Milwaukee and community organizations gathered to discuss lead abatement strategies and organize around preventing lead exposure.

Environmental Lobby Day: The Illinois Environmental Council, Illinois Sierra Club, and Faith in Place supporters gathered in Springfield for an April Environmental Lobby Day. Building relationships with legislators at the state level is an important way to make sure that science and environmental issues are being taken seriously. If you’d like to organize your own lobby day, check out this blog from the Illinois Environmental Council on how to organize a DIY Advocacy Day.

Black Panther Lives – Wakanda STEM Equity Outreach: This Oakland event began with the idea that science is relevant to all people—but science still struggles with a history of racism, exclusion, and inequity. By bringing in pop culture references like Black Panther, as well as well-respected scientists of color to speak at the event, these organizers were able to reach and resonate with a broader audience and help break down some of the barriers traditionally placed around science talks.

Hosting a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon: Many organizations are thinking about the broader science advocacy movement, and how to build a more diverse and inclusive community to stand up for science. 500 Women Scientists hosted an edit-a-thon as part of Caveat NYC’s Underground Science Festival to recognize the scientific contributions of women, gender and sexual minorities, and people of color, who remain underrepresented on Wikipedia’s pages.

And here’s a quick look at 5 upcoming Science Rising events, both in person and virtual. (Don’t see any in your area? Check the full list at

  • Tidal Town Halls in coastal Florida (August-October). Tidal Town Halls allow voters to hear ideas for solutions to sea level rise and other related topics directly from candidates running for public office, so that they may make an informed choice at the polls.
  • #ScienceRising Twitter chat: A Healthy Democracy Requires Honesty and Accountability: August 22, 12-1pm ET. Lying to the public for private or political gain is always wrong. We should all be able to know the facts, even when they are inconvenient—especially when they are inconvenient. Public officials and private interests should face consequences when they mislead the public. Future of Research and Science Rising invite you to the fourth in a series of Twitter Chats on the principles of #ScienceRising and the science advocacy movement.
  • Art for Science Rising: Interested Parties Hearing: Tonight in Columbia, Missouri, the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs will be seeking feedback on the design of a proposed large-scale mural that will showcase the Columbia’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. Resident Arts is a recipient of an Art for Science Rising grant.
  • Empowering Puerto Rican Scientists to be Science Policy Stewards: in Puerto Rico September 1 (and live-streamed online), you’re invited to attend the kickoff event for the Puerto Rico Science Policy Action Network.
  • Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice: In San Francisco on September 11, join an impressive gathering of women leaders from around the world to discuss how women are leading solutions on the front lines of climate change.

Getting your own event started

How to organize an event that makes an impact: If you’re inspired by these past events, you can organize an event in your community with guidance from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Watch the recording of the training, or use this checklist on How to organize an event.

When you’ve fleshed out the details of your event, submit it here so we can help you make it a success. Science Rising has plenty of additional resources, stories, and events to check out; more will be added regularly between now and the election. Help us send the message that the scientific community—and indeed, anyone who cares about the crucial role of science in our democracy—will resist attacks on science and fight to advance the role of science in public life.