Routes are planned. Speakers are announced. But there’s still one question about this weekend’s March for Science that is begging to be answered: Who exactly is going to show up?
The march has carved a wide mandate for itself as a nonpartisan “celebration of science,” leaving the door open for many different groups to gather under its umbrella.
Now, in recent weeks, the organizers of the Washington march and the hundreds of satellite marches across the US and overseas have been trying to anticipate who is going to turn up on April 22, including surveying social media and asking marchers to RSVP.
Based on some of that data — as well as some educated guesses — here are our predictions for who’ll be marching come Saturday.
1. Scientists and doctors
This one’s somewhat obvious. Academic, industry, and government scientists have all expressed support for the march at various times.
Several biotech companies have said they expect some employees will be at the march; for example, Cambridge, Mass.-based Blueprint Medicines said about 70 employees and their families will attend.
March organizers clearly expect federal scientists might show up, too. In early April, they released a set of guidelines for how federal scientists should act to stay on the right side of rules that restrict federal employee’s political activity.
— MassGeneral News (@MassGeneralNews) April 11, 2017
2. The environmentally concerned
The Earth Day Network has done a lot of the organizing for the March for Science in Washington, D.C. — the EDN president’s name is on the permit for the Washington Monument grounds, for example. So expect to see people, especially in Washington, who make Earth Day events a regular part of their calendar. Even in satellite marches, concerns about the environment will likely loom large; in Boston’s survey, respondents picked it as the area of science they were most concerned about.
— Jamie Weis (@Skamama01) April 18, 2017
3. Habitual activists
Though the event was initially labelled as a “scientists’ march,” non-scientists have been welcome to attend from the very beginning. “Concerned citizens” are invited right on the march’s homepage, and Boston’s survey reports that just over a quarter of responding attendees don’t work or don’t plan to work in a scientific field. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has collected a few stories from non-scientists planning to attend the march, too. Some attendees may have even been at January’s women’s march, which happened just before the March for Science first came together.
A number of teachers and professors grace speaking lists of the various marches, and several teacher or professor associations have formally partnered with the march, including the National Science Teachers Association and the American Association of University Professors.
For instance, Erica Posthuma-Adams, a high school chemistry teacher in Carmel, Ind., has encouraged her students to consider attending. (The march isn’t a school-sponsored event, she clarified, so students who want to go have to figure out how to get there themselves.) “Teachers have an opportunity and, in my opinion, an obligation to show our students that science benefits everyone. I’m marching to show my students that I believe science and evidence should inform policy,” she said.
5. Kids and teens
For many, Saturday’s marches will be family events. Some children might travel with their parents to D.C., while other families may stick closer to home at a satellite march near their hometown. Boston’s organizers reported that 23 percent of survey respondents planned to march with family. They’ve have even planned a distinct Kids’ March for Science at the same time as the full rally on Boston Common. Over 400 people have said they’ll attend.
— Joy (@rallymcnally) April 14, 2017
Organizers have also worked to connect with participants of a certain age who might chafe a little under a “kids” label. There are several teen-specific March for Science social media accounts, and winners of a teens’ video contest were announced on Tuesday.
6. Social scientists
At least three groups of social scientists will be conducting surveys focusing on marchers’ political leanings and the role of politics in science while the event takes place, Science reports. The research teams will be trying to understand what prompted people to march and what they plan to do in terms of activism after the event is over. “The march is a unique opportunity to measure public perceptions of public engagement by scientists and the role of science in society,” climate communications researcher Teresa Ann Myers told Science. “There’s a lot of talk about that online, but there isn’t much in the literature.”
While some prospective attendees are worried that news organizations won’t cover the march, STAT reporters will be out in force at events across the country. Look for us in the Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C.
Are you going to the March for Science? Let us know.