On Earth Day, Kansas City's March For Science Aims To Show Science Isn't Conspiracy

Apr 22, 2017

A short march from 27th and Grand to Washington Square Park kicked off Kansas City's "March for Science" Saturday morning. One of hundreds around the world, the event was intended "to voice the critical role that science plays in each of our lives."

Kansas City organizers started planning on January 20: Inauguration Day. The movement gained some momentum in the months since, in response the Trump administration's suggested budget cuts to funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency. But, the organizers wanted to be clear that their agenda is nonpartisan.

Most of the speakers were scientists, but there were a few local elected officials, both Republican and Democrat, including Kansas State Senator Barbara Bollier, who called upon the participants to hold higher officials accountable. 

Ian Shea-Cahir was one of the organizers of the event.

"For us, it is about science, not politics," he says. 

Furthermore, he says that the legitimacy of science had been called into question before President Trump took office.

"This new administration is more a result of that questioning, than a creator of that questioning," Shea-Cahir says. "We may be playing a little bit of catch up here. That's why we need to get out and do this."

To that end, molecular biologist Kenny Lee, another organizer of Saturday's event, says their current goal is simple.

"I want people to see that scientists are just people," Lee says. 

Lee left his 25-year career at Stowers Institute for Medical Research six months ago to become a high school biology teacher. He wants to get kids interested and engaged in the fields of science and expects the exposure the scientific community gets from an event like this will encourage younger generations to know that anyone can be a scientist.

Shea-Cahir says this isn't just a message for the current administration.

"We hope that people around the country hear us, and understand that there is a face to the scientific community," Shea-Cahir says. "That it's not just people behind closed doors, or in dark rooms doing conspiracy type things."

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter and producer for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @adtudhope, or reach her by email at andreat@kcur.org.