(→ Deutsche Version)
At an estimate of 2,500 participants, the attendance at Goettingen’s March for Science on Saturday 22 April far exceeded the expectations of the organizers. Goettingen, Germany is a mid-sized university town in the heart of Germany which calls itself “the city of science” (“die Stadt, die Wissen schafft”) with a population just over 100,000 inhabitants. In the area of Germany known as “Measurement Valley,” it has a long history of famous scientists and boasts more Nobel Prize winners than any other in the world. The event was attended by scientists, non-scientists, families, residents, visitors, and various notable guests, such as presidents of nearby universities, foundation chairs, and political figures.
Despite the threat of rain, many people participated in the “Science Fun Warm Up” before the official start of the march. There were interactive science experiments, the opportunity to make your own sign, and various other family-friend activities. “Ask me anything” scientists holding signs (in whichever language they spoke) encouraged passersby to ask them about their work. Several organizers circulated through the crowd with microphones and asked participants to speak about why they were standing up for science.
With the crowd sufficiently warmed up, drums led the marchers through the city, ending with a rally on the grounds of the University of Goettingen. Organizers from Science March Göttingen shared why ‘they march for science’ and introduced a series of guest speakers. Dr. Ulrike Beisiegel, President of the University of Goettingen spoke about the importance of empirical research and the importance of freedom of research, underscoring the need for international cooperation. Dr. Gabriele Heinen-Kljajic, Minister for Science and Culture in Lower Saxony, talked about the importance of evidence-based discussion in the public and spoke in support for scholars and journalists worldwide who have been affected by their work. Dr. H. Pinar Senoguz, a Turkish scientist currently in exile in Germany, reported about her home country and the challenges that she and her colleagues are facing. She included a message from her colleagues in Turkey to the marchers. Pastor Ludgar Gaillard, an expert on local history, spoke about the history of scientific protest in Goettingen, which started influential movements in Germany such as the opposition of the use of tactical nuclear weapons. He called for scientists to continue to work for our future. Professor Arnulf Quadt, director of the II. Institute of Physics at the University of Goettingen, underscored the international nature of scientific research and the importance of empirical research. The event ended with a call to the March for Science participants to continue to engage in science and to engage in public dialogue on the value of science.
The “March for Science” in Goettingen is a grassroots initiative that is not affiliated with any state or private institution. The event was organized by an independent, non-partisan team consisting of scientists and non-scientists.