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March for Science
Dear University of Maryland community,
On Earth Day this Saturday, April 22, the March for Science will bring researchers and educators from all over the country to the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
A diverse coalition of organizations and individuals will march in support of research that expands the frontiers of knowledge and improves our health, security, economy, and society. The rallying cry is “Science not Silence.”
I will march with them to celebrate and support the work of our universities, where most of the learning and discovery take place. I encourage members of our UMD community to join.
There will be bus transportation from the campus to the Prince Georges' Plaza Metro Station. We will assemble at a designated location on the National Mall. Details are posted at https://go.umd.edu/march.
The day before, on Friday, April 21, our i-School is sponsoring a "Celebration of American Science and Engineering," open to the public, at Francis Scott Key Hall, 1 to 4 pm. Researchers from our campus and other universities will provide a whirlwind tour of breakthroughs and innovations from astrophysics to parasites to movies, all live streamed. There are also discipline-specific receptions and poster sessions. Information at: case.umd.edu.
We face the challenge of a generation. This is a pivotal moment. Our elected officials will soon determine funding priorities in the federal budget. Proposed cuts to the sciences, as well as to the humanities and the arts, are deep and broad. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has a summary at: https://www.aaas.org/news/first-trump-budget-proposes-massive-cuts-several-science-agencies.
We have a strong case for continuing federal investment in discovery and learning. The history goes back to the earliest days of our country. The founders, heirs of the Enlightenment, believed in "natural philosophy" (today, we call it science) and humanistic values in building the nation.
In 1862, the Morrill Act created the "land-grant" university to promote scientific agriculture, the “mechanical arts," and the liberal arts. The land-grant mission made that learning accessible to all, not just the privileged few. After World War II, the federal government unleashed competition by outsourcing research to universities rather than doing it in-house. Thus emerged the"federal-grant" (or modern research) university that integrates research with education and creates a pipeline of future scientists and citizens literate in scientific inquiry.
Today, our research universities are a landmark of American civilization, a beacon to the world. The federal government still funds most research and discovery, making the U.S. a global leader. But the proposed deep funding cuts put at risk the future of American science and its beneficent impacts on society.
We can influence our national leaders to keep strong our research enterprise and research universities. In recent decades, there has been bipartisan support in Congress for science. Our federal government relations staff has been meeting with members of our congressional delegation and their staff to strengthen that support. So have the government relations staff of the AAU, APLU, and other Big Ten universities. By standing strong together, we are part of the checks and balances that undergird our Republic.
We must keep the flame of the Enlightenment burning brightly in the 21st century.
Wallace D. Loh