Over 2,500 people took to the streets to participate in the March for Science in Stockholm on 22 April. Marches were also held in four other Swedish cities, Gothenburg, Uppsala, Umeå and Luleå, as part of the global March for Science initiative that involved hundreds of thousands of people in a total of 610 cities worldwide.
Following a march through the streets of Stockholm, participants gathered in the square at Medborgarplatsen to listen to a range of speakers talk about the importance of science and using evidence-based research in society.
Speakers included Ola Rosling, who together with his late father, the visionary statistician Hans Rosling, founded the educational foundation Gapminder; Helene Hellmark Knutsson, the Swedish Minster for Higher Education and Research; and Christina Moberg, President of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
The March for Science initiative originates from the United States and involves scientists and the general public coming together to demand greater use of scientific evidence in policy making and to protest against the new administration’s discrediting of scientific consensus. Concern about resistance to facts and the rise of alternative facts and fake news was also one of the reasons behind the Swedish marches, which particularly sought to highlight the importance of examining sources, critical thinking and taking a scientific approach as well as to be a celebration of science and its contribution to society.
Broad support across the whole of society
The March for Science in Sweden received the support of over 80 partner organisations. Many individuals also volunteered their time to help with the planning and running of the Stockholm March for Science, which was coordinated by VA (Public & Science). VA was also responsible for coordinating promotional activities for the March for Science in Sweden and setting up the March for Science Sweden website.
On the morning of 22 April, a debate article was published on the news site of Sweden’s public service broadcaster, SVT, signed by 68 representatives of trade unions, educational associations, universities, research funders, companies and other organisations. In the context of the March for Science, the statement highlighted three important areas of action for Sweden.
- For the scientific method to become more prominent in general education.
- For politicians and decision-makers to have greater access to and use evidence-based research.
- For researchers to communicate more with the rest of society.
Work to highlight the importance of science and build on the momentum generated by the March for Science now continues. In Stockholm, a meeting is to be held on 8 May for all of the organisations that supported March for Science to discuss future collaborations.