Town hall meeting on February 9 – IU science community addresses threats to scientific research

To members of the IU scientific community:

 

We invite you to join us for an open, town-hall meeting of the IU science community to address concerns about growing threats to the integrity of scientific research in this country.  The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 9, at 5:30 PM in the Georgian Room at the IMU.

Like many in our community, we are concerned by signs of growing indifference, and even hostility, toward the scientific community displayed by Congress and the incoming presidential administration.  As Indiana University scholars, researchers, and educators committed to advancing science in this country, we are deeply alarmed by growing evidence of a blatant disregard for scientific integrity by the Trump administration and its allies in Congress.  Although we are only a few days into the new administration, and few concrete actions have taken place, we note:

 

  • Selection of cabinet appointees for critical science-related posts who have been publicly hostile to accepting the evidence from scientific research on key policy issues
  • Administrative efforts (now temporarily suspended) to place a ‘gag order’ on the EPA and other federal agencies and remove material related to climate change from its websites
  • The presidential transition team’s attempt to identify all research groups in the Energy Department involved in climate research
  • Preliminary evidence suggesting an administration plan for significant cuts to science funding
  • Announced intent to significantly reduce, or even eliminate, sister funding agencies: the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Executive order on immigration with significant impacts on scientific and engineering research communities

 

Through most of the history of our country, support for basic scientific research has been a bipartisan affair, recognized by presidents from both political parties as essential to our collective, long-term well-being.  As noted by a letter to the incoming administration signed by over 5,000 prominent scientists—including 22 Nobel laureates—“Scientific knowledge has played a critical role in making the United States a powerful and prosperous nation and improving the health and well-being of Americans and people around the world. From disease outbreaks to climate change to national security to technology innovation, people benefit when our nation’s policies are informed by science unfettered by inappropriate political or corporate influence.”

 

With that goal in mind, we invite you to join us for an open, town hall meeting for the Indiana University scientific community to discuss the perceived threats to scientific integrity and the role of our scientific community in supporting impartial scientific research—both basic and applied—and defending research from politically motivated antagonism, such as restrictions on open dialogue.  The meeting will focus solely on scientific issues, and all members of the IU scientific community—students, faculty, and staff—are invited to attend.

 

The meeting will take place next Thursday, February 9, at 5:30 PM, in the Georgian Room, IMU (Indiana Memorial Union).  We have no specific agenda or intended outcome for the meeting; we invite the civil exchange of ideas on how—or whether—to address these issues in a coordinated way.  If you have specific agenda items to propose, please contact Michael Hamburger (hamburg@indiana.edu), Ben Brabson (brabson@indiana.edu) or Tim Londergan (tlonderg@indiana.edu).

 

Yours,

 

Colin Allen (Cognitive Science)

Ben Brabson (Physics)

Simon Brassell (Geological Sciences)

Eduardo Brondizio (Anthropology)

James Farmer (School of Public Health)

David Fisher (Mathematics)

Michael Hamburger (Geological Sciences)

Julia Heiman (Psychology)

Michael Hendryx (School of Public Health)

Ellen Ketterson (Biology)

Rebecca Lave (Geography)

Dan Lodge-Rigal (Medical Sciences)

Elizabeth Lloyd (History & Philosophy of Science)

Tim Londergan (Physics)

Sara Mincey (Integrated Program in the Environment)

Larry Moss (Mathematics)

Heather Reynolds (Biology)

Scott Robeson (Geography)

Jeanne Sept (Anthropology)

Sara Skrabalak (Chemistry)

Rick van Kooten (Physics)

Jeff White (SPEA)

For additional information on these issues…

  1. Science News, Jan. 26, “Trump administration clampdowns on research agencies worry scientists
  2. The Hill, Jan. 27, “Trump sparks fears of war on science
  3. The New Yorker, Dec. 12, “Donald Trump’s War on Science
  4. Scientific American, Jan. 25, “Trump Administration Orders EPA to Remove Its Climate Change Web Page
  5. Washington Post, Dec. 9, “Trump transition team for Energy Department seeks names of employees involved in climate meetings
  6. Business Insider, Jan. 23, “Trump plans to ban the EPA from funding science, report says
  7. Chronicle of Higher Education, Jan. 20, “A ‘Shot Over the Bow’: Groups Respond to Reported Plan to Cut Arts and Humanities Endowments
  8. Science, Jan. 29, “Scientists’ lives upended by Trump’s immigration order
  9. The Atlantic, Jan. 29, “Trump’s Immigration Ban Is Already Harming American Science
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