He doesn’t want to fund research from those he doesn’t like. He wants academics to present their papers to the government before publishing. Important positions are given to those who are in line with his policies: Donald Trump’s attacks on free science have researchers fearing for their future and their country. For months, some of them have been saving data.
Some say it is time to take to the streets: We need to demonstrate for freedom, democracy and free information! Hold on, say others: A March for Science as planned in April might not be a good idea.
Pro: "I was shocked by the weak official statements"
"Academics face a dilemma: Most of us are part of an elite that has benefited from globalization, which Trump and his supporters are protesting against. In many quarters, universities are regarded as disconnected and out of touch. This means that even our best-supported and reasoned arguments are seen as biased and are unlikely to convince many in this so-called "post-fact" era.
Academics must try to connect and communicate effectively to a broader audience in society and foster an open, free and rational exchange of ideas. I am concerned, though, that academia will remain insulated and won't respond to the challenges posed by Trump and other populists, who seek to stir up fear and division and to govern by misinformation.
In February, the International Studies Association (ISA) annual conference took place in Baltimore, bringing together over 6,000 international relations scholars. I had hoped we would discuss how to respond to Trump’s policies and populism in our own contexts. Instead, I was shocked by the weak official statements: First the ISA council claimed incorrectly that they could not take a partisan position on Trump’s executive order banning travel from select, Muslim-majority countries. They then modified their position and condemned the executive order after many academics urged them to do so. But unlike the American Political Science Association and the American Anthropological Association, they did not strongly urge President Trump to rescind it.
I was also surprised by the ISA’s inability to react rapidly and flexibly and to organize space for debate. Instead, it was left to small groups of academics to organize panels and protests themselves, which were not well-advertised by the conference organizers. For most attendees, the conference proceeded normally, despite the fact that approximately 170 people had either boycotted the event or could not attend due to travel concerns as a result of the executive order. We can’t pretend that it is business as usual. We need to take action and build bridges between academia and the rest of society and not just build walls."