About the initiative | STRUCTURE

  The new album from rap legend   GZA  is "an ode to physics...inspired by curiosity about the universe." His Science Genius program connects NYC schoolkids to science through music.

The new album from rap legend GZA is "an ode to physics...inspired by curiosity about the universe." His Science Genius program connects NYC schoolkids to science through music.

As the diagram below illustrates, the Evolving Culture of Science Engagement initiative kicked off in September, 2013 with an unusual gathering of innovative science engagement practitioners, researchers, and funders from across the science communication and informal education spectrum, including both emerging producers and familiar. Those two days of conversation about the cultural dimensions of science engagement, analyzed in our report, laid the groundwork for what we hope will be a three-phase, multi-year inquiry. Participants identified a wide range of open questions about contemporary public science—its strategies, audiences, outcomes, contexts, risks, and rewards.

Now, in the second phase, those questions can be analyzed and prioritized for possible inclusion in a new research agenda, portions of which can be implemented in empirical research.  For that second phase, we imagine that partnerships would be formed that include practitioners and their programming organizations as well as researchers and theorists, and funding sought for studies that will fill important gaps in our knowledge about how public science engagement works in contemporary culture. That research could involve a wide range of methods, from sociological surveys of the population and ethnographic research with specific science engagement experiences or audiences, to historical analysis, social psychology experiments, or “big data” mining and mapping.

 

The findings from such studies will be valuable in their own right, but we hope they will also inform a number of new programming experiments in a third phase, collaborative public experimentation, designed to link the dialogue and research back to practice and yield practical insights about how science engagement professionals and organizations can leverage emerging cultural strategies to diversify and deepen the public connection to science. Ideally, the initiative would conclude with another dialogue or convening, this time larger, more representative, and more public, to share and discuss what has been learned.

So, what’s next, as we move into the second phase of the initiative? Most immediately, to turn the questions that surfaced at the 2013 convening into a research agenda. Read about the next steps.