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Supporters Crowd Boston Common For 'March For Science'

The crowd gathered on Boston Common Saturday for the March For Science. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
The crowd gathered on Boston Common Saturday for the March For Science. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Scientists, doctors and others took to Boston's streets and gathered on Boston Common Saturday in support of scientific knowledge, research and the power of facts.

Boston's March For Science was one of many satellite rallies taking place throughout the country, with the main event — expected to be the largest — in Washington, D.C.

Organizers insist the events were not put on for partisan reasons and that they wanted to "celebrate Boston as a space for scientists and scientific research." However, some attendees said they feared that proposed cuts to federal research funding and changes to environmental policy could put scientific progress — and reality — in jeopardy.

Major Boston area medical institutions including Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Brigham and Women's Hospital expressed their support for Saturday's events.

The main March For Science event in Boston took place on Boston Common, with smaller events happening throughout the city during the day.

Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator and Boston-native Gina McCarthy spoke to the crowd on Boston Common Saturday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator and Boston-native Gina McCarthy spoke to the crowd on Boston Common Saturday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Among the speakers on Boston Common was Boston-native and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy.

McCarthy urged the crowd of several thousand to take action to make sure no public policy harms the safety of the environment and the community.

"As Americans, as New Englanders, as Boston Strong, we care about our natural world," McCarthy said. "We value the safety of our communities and our country and we will cherish and we will fight for the health and the future of our children."

While organizers said the goal was to keep the march nonpartisan, some march attendees said the election of President Trump had pushed them into attending and even paying more attention to politics.

Biologist and Somerville resident Ben Ewen-Campen was at the Common Saturday and said it was Trump's election and proposed policies that spurred him to run for the city's Ward 3 alderman seat.

"I think me and a lot of my generation sort of dropped the ball on local politics and I think we all sort of realized it was time to get back into it," Ewen-Campen said. "I think a lot of the stuff we really care about at the national level — the rubber kind of meets the road at the local level."

Schools and medical institutions in Boston put on events throughout the day that coordinated around the Boston Common event, including rallies at Harvard's Longwood and Cambridge campuses as well as at MIT.

Ivan Kroupin organized the March For Science events at Harvard's Cambridge campus and said he agreed with Boston organizers that the day should remain nonpartisan. However, Kroupin said that doesn't mean scientists aren't allowed to touch political issues.

"Our line is that it's nonpartisan but not apolitical. This isn't an easy line to draw but it's an important one," Kroupin said. "And I don't think it should be surprising that it isn't an easy line to draw. I mean, there hasn't been a movement of scientists thinking about what their role is en masse in policy and public life before, as far as I know."

Naomi Oreskes, a Harvard professor of the history of science, spoke at the school and said Saturday's events were about making people aware of the scientific community's worries.

"It's not just science that is threatened right now," Oreskes told the crowd. "It's knowledge. It's inquiry. It is the gist of what we do as scholars, as academics or as any citizen who cares about the country that they live in."

With reporting by WBUR's Kathleen McNerney and Elizabeth Gillis

More Photos:

Thousands gathered on Boston Common for the March For Science on Saturday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Thousands gathered on Boston Common for the March For Science on Saturday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
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(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March for Science attendees gathered on Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
March for Science attendees gathered on Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Holly Taylor of Northeastern University with a sign she created for the March for Science in Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Holly Taylor of Northeastern University with a sign she created for the March for Science in Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Marchers from Harvard and MIT head down the Commonwealth Avenue Mall toward Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Marchers from Harvard and MIT head down the Commonwealth Avenue Mall toward Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Harvard and MIT students, faculty and alumni march down the Commonwealth Avenue Mall Saturday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Harvard and MIT students, faculty and alumni march down the Commonwealth Avenue Mall Saturday. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Hundreds of Harvard and MIT students, faculty and alumni march over the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge toward Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Hundreds of Harvard and MIT students, faculty and alumni march over the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge toward Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Harvard students, faculty and alumni meet with a group from MIT to head toward the March For Science at Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Harvard students, faculty and alumni meet with a group from MIT to head toward the March For Science at Boston Common. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
MIT alumna Deborah Wilbert came from Boxborough to join the rally at MIT. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
MIT alumna Deborah Wilbert came from Boxborough to join the rally at MIT. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Two-year old Nile Gray walks with a sign at MIT where students and faculty were making signs for Saturday's March For Science. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Two-year old Nile Gray walks with a sign at MIT where students and faculty were making signs for Saturday's March For Science. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Signs being made by MIT students and faculty Saturday in support of Boston's March For Science. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Signs being made by MIT students and faculty Saturday in support of Boston's March For Science. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

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Bob is a producer for WBUR's digital and radio broadcast units.

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