Is there a place for ‘Kindness in Science’?

An initiative in New Zealand aims to make science kinder, gentler and more inclusive.

Scientists in New Zealand hope to kick-start a movement that will offer a kinder, gentler and more inclusive scientific culture.

The Kindness in Science movement intends to encourage a step away from the ‘winner takes all’ approach of individual endeavour. It aims towards a more collective way of working and achieving breakthroughs. In real terms, this might mean for example more effective mentoring, a ‘kinder’ tone in peer reviews, or less emphasis on ‘publish or perish’.

Where did the idea for Kindness in Science come from?

Tammy Steeves is a conservation geneticist at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch and one of the leaders in the Kindness in Science movement.

“The idea for the movement came when three of us were reflecting on an essay about kindness in science, written in September 2016 by Emily Bernhardt.”

“I see it as a shift away from empire building towards village growing.”

“We envisage a diverse collective of scientists leading a culture shift that embeds kindness in how scientists work and how science is conducted. I see it as a shift away from empire building towards village growing.”

“Collective efforts are rarely rewarded. That needs to change.”

“For me, as a mentor, this is about making space at the science table, creating an inclusive place for early-career scientists. Why does it matter? I believe that the inclusion of diverse perspectives is critical because it brings fresh approaches to tough scientific problems… Collective efforts are rarely rewarded. That needs to change.”

First New Zealand, then the world…

The founders of the movement see it as a local initiative that could gain popularity and become a global one.

Nature interviewed seven researchers at various career stages, including Dr. Steeves, to ask what such a culture shift might mean for them.

You can read the full Nature article here.