University of Freiburg March for Science: 2500 Demonstrate for the Freedom of Science

Donnerstag, 27. April 2017 | 

Schlagwörter »  |  Thema: 2017-1, Allgemein, englisch, Newsletter, Uni für Alumni

Director Professor Schiewer and the University Senate called upon scientists, students, alumni, members, and friends of the university and other research institutions in the region to take part in the “March for Science” on 22 April. More than 2500 people, including many alumni, responded to the invitation and participated in the march, making the Freiburg demonstration the largest in Baden-Württemberg.

People in more than 600 cities around the world took to the streets on 22 April 2017 to make it clear that scientific facts are not negotiable as a basis for the societal discourse and that the freedom of science is in need of protection. In Freiburg, the “March for Science” was organized by doctoral candidates and students in cooperation with the administration: The demonstration through the Freiburg city center ended on Augustinerplatz with speeches by Ingo Henneberg (doctoral candidate and co-initiator of the march), Director Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer, Deputy Mayor Ulrich von Kirchbach, the student Sina Elbers from the Student Council, the journalist Prof. Dr. Sabine Rollberg (ARTE), and the scientist Prof. Dr. Anna Lipphardt.

Rektor Prof. Schiewer am Freiburger March for Science
Rector Schiewer at the University of Freiburg March for Science (Foto: Sandra Meyndt)

In his speech, Director Professor Schiewer voiced his criticism of the current tendency in the political and societal discourse to regard scientific findings as “negotiable” – for instance in the form of so-called alternative facts.

“We want to make it clear that an appreciation of expertise and knowledge backed up by scientific evidence are essential preconditions for social cohesion and the capacity to engage in a dialogue,” said Director Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer. “Scientists are taking a stand with this “March for Science”: for the freedom of science and in support of research and education. Only with a belief in science will we be capable of solving the problems of the future.”

Research findings can be inconvenient, Schiewer continued, and they have often been so in past centuries – sometimes for the good of humanity. They can call everyday certainties and practices into question and destabilize the self-image of individuals and societies, but this is no reason to restrict the freedom of science, Schiewer concluded.

Director Schiewer also called for solidarity with scientists who are conducting research under highly difficult conditions or are suffering persecution. The University of Freiburg wants to do its part to support these scientists. The University of Freiburg has therefore joined the “Scholars at Risk” network, enabling researchers in danger of political persecution in their native countries to come to the University of Freiburg as visiting researchers. The University of Freiburg welcomed its first scientist last week, a researcher from Burundi.

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