Scientists Dating Forum (SciDF) is a non-profit organization founded in 2016 in Barcelona, Spain, formed by a multidisciplinary team of more than 20 volunteers who are directly or indirectly related to scientific disciplines. SciDF aims to create awareness of the importance of science in politics, economics and society. These areas sometimes act as separate fields, but we believe that the only way to foster the immense value of science in our society is by creating dialogue to bring them together.
What does SciDF do? Our main actions revolve around creating projects and debates on issues that affect the development of science. We organize roundtable discussions and debates in bars (SciDF-Bars) and at institutes (SciDF-Talks), and collaborations with other institutions and programs. These are usually Barcelona based, as our resources are located in this city, although collaborations also are organized at the national and international level. More than 80 young and dynamic professionals from over 50 entities have been involved in the SciDF, and over 1000 people have attended SciDF events so far.
The gap between politicians and science is one major issue we face. This lack of communication has damaging consequences, as it leads to lower funding and resources for science. Not only does the problem affect academic research, but it limits the ability of industry and politics to use science for our common good. Understanding this situation, SciDF acts as an intermediary between politicians and scientific institutions. We want politicians to consider science in their decision-making process and electoral platforms. We also want to involve scientists in the development of policy-making strategies. In this context, mobilizing our community is a powerful way to make an impact and create change.
This is why SciDF was the driving force of the March for Science 2017 in Barcelona, where over 600 people participated. We were so thrilled with the response that we are currently organizing the next March for Science 2019 as a MFS satellite. On this occasion, our program will also be associated with the event També Votem Ciència (“we also vote science”) because the European and municipal elections will happen shortly after. At this event, we will invite politicians to participate in a debate to analyze their main strategies related to science in an easy, participatory and constructive atmosphere. Prior to the event, we will send a survey to the citizenship to know their questions, so the debate can be linked to people’s interests and concerns. Furthermore, this year, we will count on the collaboration of the Spanish Association for the advancement of science (AEAC), as well as the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona (RACAB), and La Caixa Foundation for the development of the event.
Another critical issue we currently face in Barcelona is the lack of economic resources. Sadly, this problem is not only restricted to the city, but to the whole country as well. What this situation means is that high qualified PhDs do not have opportunities to continue their research careers and are cast out of the system. There is also a lack of knowledge about alternative scientific careers that can provide a large-scale return on the investment. We are currently working on developing workshops aimed at PhD students to raise awareness about the mental health issue. We also organized different SciDF-Talks about alternative ways to public funding or funding in a economic crisis, and SciDF-Bars on possible scenarios in a putative independence of Catalonia or strategies in science and science policies.
Bridging the gap between science and society is another of our aims. Our main goal is to raise awareness about society’s dependence on science. To narrow this gap, we have participated in different events, such as the Youth Mobile Festival (YoMo) or Festa de la Ciència 2018, in which we presented a global challenge puzzle, a role playing activity to develop critical thinking in the decision-making process. We have also organized different SciDF-Talks on how to engage society in science. Other SciDF-Bars covered interesting topics, for example women in science, science and poetry, etc. All the events we organize are addressed both to people working in the research, and to people without a scientific background.
Indeed, we firmly believe that interaction is the solution, and future perspectives in science and society require the active participation of citizens, researchers, politicians and economists. We are passionate about standing up for science and we will continue our efforts in the long term.