On April 22, 2017, thousands of scientists and supporters of science will come together to March for Science around the world. And I will be among them, joining my local march in San Francisco. On that day, I will be marching towards pervasive inclusion.
This administration has taken several steps towards dismantling the scientific enterprise, including leaving several critical science advisory positions completely vacant and enhancing defense operations in lieu of basic research. They have also instituted policies intended to exclude and remove certain people. Not only do these actions negatively impact federal and foreign scientists, but they also restrict standard government services that benefit us all. However, funding for science does not guarantee ethical practices or efficacy, especially when it comes to certain minority populations.
“Science may be more inclusive now, but it is clear that there is still much work to be done.”
Although science is intended to be objective and apolitical, it has not been practiced without bias. Scientists may unintentionally exclude a certain group from a study, but then broadly apply its findings. Science has also pushed the boundaries of our knowledge, but at the expense of vulnerable people who are underrepresented in science. We must acknowledge the harms that were incurred in the name of scientific advancement (including pseudoscience), and then recognize how subtler harms continue to be perpetrated. Once we identify these gaps in our scientific understanding, we can determine both the limits of science within the decision-making process, and where more information needs to be gathered and protections need to be applied.
So, why pervasive inclusion? When science is incorporated into policy, both practices — conducting science and policy-making — must address everyone. In the same vein, when we claim that science improves communities, it must be used to benefit all communities. Science may be more inclusive now, but it is clear that there is still much work to be done.
Thus, I am not only marching for pervasive inclusion, but towards it.