“Science, Not Silence”

Scotland has a rich history of inventiveness, scientific and medical research, respect for rationality and the championing of education for all which continues to this day.

Science underpins so much in society beyond the labs and university halls – from the construction of the new Forth Queensferry Bridge (which is using enough steel cabling to stretch the whole world over and combines engineering, technology to urban-planning) to the cross-Scotland collaborations bringing medical imaging to our hospital bedsides (for example, the PROTEUS consortium lighting up the lungs) and development of new technology for games (everything from Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto to education).

As an intrinsically human activity, Science does not live in a vacuum but forms a huge spectrum ranging from physics to psychology, geosciences to computer science, environmental to social sciences which is all deeply embedded with the humanities, the arts and culture to form questions, reflect on social and historical context, contemplate ethics and ultimately seek to understand the world around us. 

Science cannot ignore it's obligations to not just recognise, but positively intersect with issues of equality, diversity & equity in society. Science benefits from these principles, and the community should not shy away from standing up when these are threatened. With research as a fundamentally international endeavour, political decisions from around the world have major effects on our own daily lives, whether that’s cuts in funding, restrictions on travel or the academic freedom to share knowledge, which is why March for Science Edinburgh stands in solidarity with our friends marching elsewhere in the world. 

Closer to home, our uncertain relationship to the European Union is causing massive disruption. A quarter of research scientists across Scotland are from the EU alone (source) and already reduced intake of international students is causing local universities to consider job cuts (source).

Similarly, despite efforts of an ambitious curriculum change and housing some of the world’s oldest science festivals championing access to science education for all, school achievement in STEM is not doing as well as hoped for (source), the attainment gap between students in the most and least deprived parts of Scotland remains high (source) and uptake of STEM subjects for girls has remained static for the last 30 years  (e.g. accounting for 28% of Higher Physics entries, source). 

Finally, research and development funding in the UK more widely has remained way below our G8 international peers at 0.5% of GDP (source).  With a potential loss of an estimated £1.5 billion of EU funding (source), this is a trend set to continue.

These are just the tip of the iceberg of reasons why to march, and we recognise that Marchers on Saturday will come along with their own specific causes and reasons to join, and these are most welcome - the March is stronger the more diverse the communities and causes it represents. 

We also know March for Science Edinburgh is not going to solve these issues alone, nor is it even the first to point them out, but it is an opportunity for us to march in unity with people around the world in a way that cannot be ignored, and starting as we mean to go on, walk that journey together.