Since Donald Trump was elected our new president the scientific community has tried to adjust to this new reality or at least absorb the shock that many felt. Responses from scientists range from “not my president” to “maybe it won’t be so bad”. Mostly it seems people are stressed about an uncertain future for science and our country overall. If you just look at a science-related Twitter feed you can feel the palpable tension in the air.
How should we scientists deal with this new reality from a utilitarian point of view? Below I’ve listed top bullet point ideas. Many would mean scientists have to go outside their comfort zones. I believe it is worth it to do so even if this is uncomfortable for many.
- Become more politically active overall. It may not always come naturally for many scientists, but more than ever it is time to dive in.
- If you see specific instances of injustice (sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, etc.) including in your science community, seriously consider taking action such as saying something. Already several people I know have had bad experiences post-election including with racism. There are risks to speaking out, but silence can do great harm too.
- Advocate for science funding and support the NIH, NSF, NASA, etc.
- Promote the reality that science is a key part of a democracy.
- Invest more time than ever in your trainees and work to instill in them the core values of science. The next generation of scientists are an amazing resource for positive change in the future.
- Reach out to Republicans, whichever party you belong to if any. Make the point that science funding is a non-partisan issue that also bears on our economy and national security. If you are a Republican scientist, reach out to your fellow party members about science.
- Recommit yourself even more actively to the importance of diversity in science that transcends borders. Our global scientific community should not let borders block collaborative science and continue to embrace our diversity.
- Support the free press. Get or renew a subscription to important magazines and newspaper(s) that are unafraid in their coverage. Of course scientists can’t do everything and a free press that rigorously does its job is essential.
- Keep your expectations high for a fact- and data-based reality. A democracy runs on data/facts or it runs into serious trouble.
- Finally, keep doing your science and rightly believe in making a difference through that work.
Please add your own ideas in the comments.