#ScienceInAction Twitter Chat

By: Lina Zhu
April 19, 2020
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On Friday, April 10th, ESAL and fellow organizations participated in a Twitter chat led by the Science Network of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The virtual conversation addressed the importance of scientific engagement in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through eight key questions, the UCS Science Network (@SciNetUCS) led a thoughtful and energetic exchange of tweets, which unfolded over the course of an hour. The spotlight was on how scientists can engage in meaningful discourse and lead with facts during a time when science has become increasingly relevant and necessary. ESAL was one of more than a dozen participants that included advocacy groups as well as individual science enthusiasts. Here are highlights from the #ScienceInAction chat.

ESAL (@ESAL_us) emphasized why scientists need to be vocal and help direct the public discourse, now more so than ever.

The AAAS Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues (@AAASEPICenter) jumped in, pointing out the significant opportunity in this moment to showcase the value of science.

At the same time, a lot of misinformation exists out there regarding COVID-19, and scientists of all stripes have sensed the imperative to combat falsehoods. The Puerto Rico Science Policy Action Network (@prspanetwork) has taken a publicity-based approach, by working to proactively spread accurate information through various media outlets.

Others, like neuroscientist Paige (@auburn__beauty), have taken an inner circle approach, by making sure real evidence is discussed with family and friends in our own social networks.

One question, in particular, about developing culturally appropriate solutions to the pandemic really struck a chord with this scientific audience, and received a lot of tweets in response. ESAL contributed just one of many thoughtful answers: part of the solution going forward is to strive for greater diversity in the scientific community.

CienciaPR (@CienciaPR), a nonprofit that supports scientific research in Puerto Rico, offered a compelling argument for why cultural understanding is so important. Through a series of tweets, CienciaPR explained that science-driven solutions can and should be tailored to individual communities. In Puerto Rico especially, the practice of affectionate greetings and familial gatherings can make social distancing difficult to implement, because big cultural barriers must be overcome.

Next, the #ScienceInAction chat moved on to a broader discussion of efforts happening at the federal and local levels. The Journal of Science Policy & Governance (@SciPolJournal)  is an open-access peer-reviewed journal for science policy. They presented a picture of what federal advocacy will look like in this new era of virtual-only contact.

As the focus of the chat switched to the local level, the answers were right in ESAL’s wheelhouse. ESAL took the chance to highlight resources it has compiled to provide scientists with different avenues for supporting their communities.

ESAL also received a friendly shoutout from Erin Heath (@PublicHeath), who expressed excitement about ESAL’s Local Engagement Playbook, a set of step-by-step guides that is intended to empower scientists and engineers to take civic action in their city, county, or state.

Finally, the #ScienceInAction conversation ended on a high note. A flurry of tweets arrived in response to the last question: What is one resource or opportunity you’d like to highlight that’s giving you hope right now? Chat participants quickly drew attention to a number of movements that have risen to the challenge. These include the Ask a Scientist tool by the Federation of American Scientists, where anyone can ask a question about COVID-19 and expect to receive a factual answer from a real scientist; the COVID-19 National Scientist Volunteer Database, where those with relevant technical skills can offer their services; Crowdfight COVID-19, a volunteer matching service; your local medical reserve corps, and more.

Perhaps the most important takeaway, however, isn’t any one specific resource or organization. As @reengineeredlab pointed out, we can find hope by simply turning to the intense collaboration and human creativity that are taking place all around.

Thank you to the the UCS Science Network (@SciNetUCS) for moderating this virtual discussion on #ScienceInAction and to ESAL’s fellow participants: Journal of Science Policy & Governance (@SciPolJournal), AAAS EPI Center (@AAASEPICenter), Puerto Rico Science Policy Action Network (@prspanetwork), Ciencia Puerto Rico (@CienciaPR), and re-Engineered (@reengineeredlab).

Please check the ESAL Events page for a list of upcoming opportunities.

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Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally (ESAL) is a non-advocacy, non-political organization. The information in this post is for general informational purposes and does not imply an endorsement by ESAL for any political candidates, businesses, or organizations mentioned herein.
Published: 04/19/20
Updated: 08/16/22
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