Despite the day-long drizzle that doused marchers, participants in the Washington, DC March for Science returned to the lobby of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in high spirits. As scientists and non-scientists alike mingled amidst earth-inspired artwork, a latent energy permeated the crowd. The pre-march rally, with notable speakers such as Bill Nye the Science Guy and former US Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, had amplified the desire of the attendees to do everything they could to support science. But a key question hung in the air: What could they do next?
While conversation on the topic undulated through the crowd, a GKI team was helping marchers channel their ideas through a not-so-subtle 8-foot tall Three Horizons poster, which invited them to think about their vision for an ideal future and the impact science could have on that future.
As marchers approached, they pondered the sinusoidal like curves that flowed the chart, wondering what the three horizons represented. Horizon 1 (The Present) was the role of science in American society today – both the good and bad. Horizon 2 (The Journeys), created a journey from the present to the future by linking the elements of the present that signaled either a positive or negative trajectory toward a vision for an ideal future in which science is cultivated and impactful (Horizon 3). This journey was presented as a list of concrete actionable steps that could be taken to move from the present to the ideal future.
Marchers got creative while envisioning the ideal future. Ideas ranged from intergalactic travel to electing a scientist as President of the United States. Despite diversity, two central themes emerged: the ideal future would include widespread and inclusive science knowledge and the integration of science into the political decision-making process.
This reflects the recognition that it’s not that people don’t care or that they are ill-intentioned, but that science is often inaccessible to much of the population.
In Horizon 2, marchers proposed many potential pathways toward this ideal future, but one of the critical elements that arose was a desire for improving science education and communication. This reflects the recognition that it’s not that people don’t care or that they are ill-intentioned, but that science is often inaccessible to much of the population.
As marchers interacted with the GKI team and the Three Horizons poster, they appeared hopeful and thoughtful; the activity left them with a clearer vision of the future and, most importantly, what they could do to see that it occurs. As GKI Junior Program Officer Chase Keenen stated, “the seeds of the future are planted in the present.” The GKI team, meanwhile, left feeling inspired by the thousands of scientist-advocates with whom GKI will undoubtedly interact in the future, leading problem-solving networks to address the world’s most intractable challenges.
Note: this post was written by our passionate science-loving intern, Meryl Kruskopf, who will be leaving us shortly to move on to her next adventure working in a National Park on the West Coast. Thanks Meryl for your great work!
Top photo taken by Becker1999 from Grove City, OH (March for Science, Washington, DC) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons