President’s Podium: March for Science guidance

Bruce C. Thompson, President of The Wildlife Society

As many of you already know and others of you should become aware, there is a substantial effort underway known as March for Science. On 22 April 2017, many scientists and supporters of science are planning to conduct more than 400 marches in more than 40 countries globally. Those numbers are changing daily and could be much larger by late April. This communication is intended to inform members of The Wildlife Society about how our organization anticipates being involved.

First and foremost, The Wildlife Society Council views the Mission, Principles and Goals, and Marchers Pledge related to the March for Science as highly consistent with values, missions and policies of The Wildlife Society. We concur with the spirit, message and intent with which this overall effort is being organized and presented. The intent is consistent with the values that have driven The Wildlife Society since its beginning 80 years ago. See TWS Standing Position on Use of Science in Policy and Management Decisions.

In late February 2017, organizers of the March for Science invited The Wildlife Society to be a partner.  The Wildlife Society Council deliberated on that invitation quite seriously prior to and during our recent Council Meeting in Spokane, WA on 5-6 March 2017. Subsequent to that deliberation, we sought further information from the organizers to inform and clarify questions that remained among TWS Council members. Those questions primarily related to the degree to which adequate oversight is and will be in place to prevent that many events in that many places from becoming an opportunity for dissident interests to cause difficulties that could reflect negatively on sponsors. As President of The Wildlife Society, I communicated with the organizers about those concerns. I have not received sufficient information to set aside concerns raised by TWS Council. Thus, TWS does not plan to be a formal sponsor of the March for Science.

However, we recognize the prospective importance and value of these events to our members, chapters, and sections. In that regard, local units and members of TWS should feel comfortable to engage in March for Science events in a manner that is consistent with TWS policies, embraces diversity and inclusion in science endeavors, is respectful of a non-partisan constructive message about science applications to management and education, and promotes emphasis on non-confrontational activities. Also, local organizational units and members of TWS should feel welcome to assist March for Science organizers to make each event as informative and effective as possible within whatever resources such units and members may wish to commit to local efforts.

Thank you for understanding this deliberative position taken by TWS Council and for working to effectively instill TWS values into the forums in which you engage. Depending on the outcomes from the events on 22 April, there may be more formal ways for TWS to engage this partnership in future efforts to advocate for open, inclusive, and accessible science.