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About ASTC and Community Science

ASTC's Approach to Community Science

ASTC’s Community Science Initiative—a set of interconnected projects, programs, and partnerships that are building capacity among science centers and museums to do community science—supports our members in leveraging community science approaches so that they can join their communities in responding to societal trends. ASTC is a professional membership organization with a vision of increased understanding of—and engagement with—science and technology among all people, and a mission to champion and support science and technology centers and museums. Learn more about ASTC.

ASTC members are science and technology centers, museums, and allied organizations. As institutions of science engagement, science learning, and scientific research, ASTC members often serve as boundary organizations, working to facilitate connections between communities and scientists and their work. While neither formal scientists nor science engagement practitioners need to be present in order for community science to be taking place, there is often a role for these partnerships and collaborations, and ASTC members can play this role.

ASTC’s Community Science Initiative, including the information and resources contained in this website, is aimed primarily at building capacity for and scaling the practice of community science among science and technology centers and museums, and allied science engagement organizations. The goal of this website is to help describe a set of broad and inclusive attributes, outcomes, and approaches to community science that can be applicable beyond ASTC members and support community science efforts in many types of organizations, while specifically targeting and contextualizing descriptions, examples, resources, and tools to support efforts within science and technology centers and museums.

This initiative builds on the work already taking place within ASTC member science centers and science museums, and has been significantly informed by dozens of partner organizations across the science engagement, science research, and community development ecosystems. The research and resources in this digital hub are the result of an extensive literature review, individual interviews, practitioner workshops, and organizational partnerships.

Expertise and experience in community science is widely distributed and is growing all the time. This website links to many resources, organizations, and networks engaged community science beyond our immediate, because we believe that there are so many opportunities for shared learning and collaboration.

Training and Development Opportunities for ASTC Members

With the support and collaboration of our partners, ASTC is developing a range of opportunities for professionals at our member organizations to build their skills and expand their institutional capacity for community science. From year-long fellowship programs to individual workshops and seminars and including pilot and seed funding programs, ASTC’s Community Science Initiative provides a range of opportunities to explore and expand promising approaches to community science. In addition to our Community Science Fellowship programs, we are working to create additional training modules, toolkits, and funding opportunities that welcome and include diverse community members in the practice of community science.

Our aim is that this platform will support science and technology centers and museums, and allied institutions of science learning and engagement, in fulfilling their missions to advance lifelong science learning, connect science and society, engage diverse audiences, and partner to solve local and global challenges. Stay tuned for future updates, and explore our current resources:

  • Our resource library includes promising examples and experimental models of community science that can be funded, evaluated, and replicated.
  • Our toolkit for Dialogue & Deliberation outlines key skills for engaging community members in discussions that surface or refine community priorities and support decision making around difficult complex societal challenges at the intersection of science, technology, and human well-being.
  • Join our online Community of Practice to connect with other science engagement professionals and share questions, challenges, expertise, and resources.

Thanking Our Funders and Supporters

This initiative is made possible with the generous support of Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, and is enabled through close collaboration with ASTC members and partners. We’re grateful for their support of—and vision for—community science at ASTC and across our member institutions with their community partners.

Key Partners

Thriving Earth Exchange

Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) Network

Credits and Acknowledgements

ASTC has engaged hundreds of individuals and scores of institutions in the research and development of this website and resource hub and we humbly thank all who have, and continue to so generously contribute your time and expertise to these efforts.

ASTC Dialogue & Deliberation Fellowship Resource Partners (2021-2022)

  • Courtney Breese, Executive Director, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD)
  • Nicholas Felts, Research Associate, Kettering Foundation
  • Nicole Hewitt-Cabral, Founder and CEO, Community Action Strategies LLC
  • Rebecca Reilly, Teen and Adult Engagement Assistant Manager, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)
  • Kathryn Semmens, Science Director, Nurture Nature Center
  • David Sittenfeld, Manager of Forums and National Collaborations, Museum of Science, Boston

ASTC Community Science Advisors (2020-2021)

  • Marcie Benne, Director of Engagement Research & Advancement, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
  • Kevin Farmer, Program Development Manager, University of Michigan Museum of Natural History
  • Jeremy Hoffman, Chief Scientist, Science Museum of Virginia
  • Jen Kretser, Director of Climate Initiatives, The Wild Center
  • Elizabeth Kunz Kollmann, Manager of the Research and Evaluation Department, Museum of Science, Boston
  • Jacob Martinez, Executive Director, Digital NEST
  • Verónika Núñez, Learner Empowerment R&D Manager, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
  • Kathryn Semmens, Science Director, Nurture Nature Center
  • David Sittenfeld, Manager of Forums and National Collaborations, Museum of Science, Boston

Special thanks to: Emily Howell, Rebecca Tiernan, Helen Tosteson, and Levon Williams.

ASTC Staff Contributors, past and present, include: Melissa Ballard, Laura Bartock, Rachel Diamond, Cristin Dorgelo, Jamie Durana, Adam Fagen, Ivel Gontan, Erica Kimmerling, Lesley Markham, Christofer Nelson, and Naomi Wallace.

Have a question?

Thriving Earth Exchange

The American Geophysical Union’s Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) program connects communities with AGU member scientists and supports them as they work together to tackle local challenges related to natural hazards, natural resources, and climate change. ASTC partnered with TEX and the American Meteorological Society (AMS) to launched a cohort of TEX Community Science Fellows for staff at ASTC-member institutions to receive training in the TEX model of community-driven science, as well as mentorship in designing and implementing a project that uses science to make their community stronger.

Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) Network

The ECAST Network—led by Arizona State University‘s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes (CSPO), the Museum of Science, Boston, and SciStarter—brings together academic research, informal science education, citizen science programs, and non-partisan policy analysis to engage citizens in peer-to-peer deliberations to inform decision-making on science and technology policy issues. In 2020, with the support of New America’s Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), ASTC and ECAST partnered to launch a pilot fellowship in which five science center professionals and their community partners co-developed a public-deliberation forum on participatory technology assessment and public-interest technology to advance a community priority. Learn more.