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Informal Science Education and Collective Leadership
The Innovation Center strongly believes that education occurs both inside and outside of the classroom; for years we’ve been members, contributors, and advocates of the informal science education (ISE) community and see ISE as an area ripe for innovation. To that end, we have begun to explore the intersection of ISE and collective leadership. Where these two fields meet is a deep but untapped potential for supporting positive youth development outcomes while building stronger and more sustainable communities.
Through ISE young people take an active role in their education and become more knowledgeable about the world around them as they participate in hands-on activities and projects that promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning. We see collective leadership – an approach that engages youth as catalysts for social change – as a complementary way of working; ISE opportunities that reflect the principles and practices of collective leadership would encourage youth to address STEM-related challenges in their communities.
Many of the challenges communities face today have science roots – or require STEM literacy to address. As young people develop their own STEM literacy through ISE, they gain the competencies they need to solve such challenges. And these competencies aren’t just STEM-related; with the infusion of collective leadership into the work, young people develop leadership and professional skills, as well as an investment in and commitment to their community that links their ISE work to a broad agenda for community change. Communities, for their part, gain an engaged citizenry that is committed to providing the best for the community’s future.
We have submitted a variety of proposals for work in this exciting field and welcome input and collaborations from other partners. For more information, please contact Carla Roach.