Science for the People

This website was created to organize and archive a conference on the history and legacy of Science for the People (SftP), held in April 2014 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and hosted by the Social Thought & Political Economy Program. The site will be maintained as a hub for studying the history of Science for the People and for future organizing. We invite visitors to explore the Conference tab for video of all conference sessions, along with abstracts and presentation files for many of the presentations. We also invite you to explore the History tab for historical materials on the movement, which includes many SftP publications along with FBI files obtained through a FOIA request. In the coming months, we expect to develop a new section of the website to support an SftP “revitalization” project.

What was Science for the People?

Science for the People arose in 1969 out of the anti-war movement and lasted until 1989. With a Marxist analysis and non-hierarchical governing structure, Science for the People tackled the militarization of scientific research, the corporate control of research agendas, the political implications of sociobiology and other scientific theories, the environmental consequences of energy policy, inequalities in health care, and many other issues.

Its members opposed racism, sexism, and classism in science and above all sought to mobilize people working in scientific fields to become active in agitating for science, technology, and medicine that would serve social needs rather than military and corporate interests. They organized in universities and communities, published a magazine offering sharp political analysis, and sought meaningful scientific exchange internationally in Vietnam, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, and other countries.

Some of the issues we face today have changed in important ways, but fundamental questions of power, ideology, and democracy in science remain. The time is ripe to gather SftP veterans with other scientists, activists, students, and scholars in an exploration of what the history of SftP can teach us… and where we go from here.