Science Iowa was born as part of a national movement to affirm the primacy of science and evidence in American life and government in response to troubling social and political developments: climate change denial, anti-vaccination movements, environmental regulation relaxation and more.
In early 2017, a group of leaders organized an Iowa version of what became the March for Science, held in Washington, D.C. and other cities across the United States and the world on Earth Day, April 22. The Iowa march drew around 3,000 activists to the state Capitol grounds, where they listened to speakers and made their own voices heard in return via posters and chants.
That year, March for Science Iowa, as our organization was known then, also participated in a June 10 rally in support of the Paris Accord on Climate Change. Speakers included Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie and professors in climatology, meteorology, agriculture and environmental science.
In 2018, we issued questionnaires to candidates for governor and other statewide offices, aiming to inform voters on science-related policy positions. Candidates were invited to meet potential constituents at an April march, but a spring snowstorm curtailed activities. Nonetheless, a hardy group showed up to support science.
We continued working to inform voters and ensure that science is included in political discussions in 2019 ahead of the 2020 Iowa caucuses. With a grant from Science Debate and in collaboration with the Drake University School of Journalism and Mass Communication, we held “Science on the Stump,” a forum of science experts and political journalists, on May 3. Participants discussed scientists’ role in advancing policy, how Iowans view science and its importance in their lives, and how political reporters can ensure candidates address such issues.
A month later we organized the Science Festival Trail, hosting numerous science advocacy and education groups at Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines. Participants walked the trail around the lake, visiting organizations stationed along the way and earning popcorn and ice cream, plus a reusable tote filled with science-related goodies. We distributed more than 100 of them.
In 2019 we also changed our name to Science Iowa, reflecting our independence from national groups and a focus on our state’s issues. We’re working with like-minded organizations to advocate for science in state policy, especially environmental- and climate change-related issues. Our group has had representatives at the Iowa Water Festival in June, the Iowa Climate Strike demonstration in September, and the 2020 Environmental Lobby Day organized by the Iowa Environmental Council.
We’re also collaborating on important projects to, once again, get candidates on the record regarding science and evidence-based policy so voters can weigh their positions. Too often these subjects are a second thought, if they are covered at all, when science is central to virtually every decision government makes.
We have a record of success, but we can do much more with your help. Sign on to stand up for science.