Global Goals – Awareness, Engagement, Impact
ASTC aims to help member institutions inform and educate the public about science through a global lens, engaging citizens directly on global issues where science understanding is imperative, and encourage ASTC-member institutions to serve as trusted and objective venues for learning and discourse.
ASTC achieves these goals by supporting member institutions all over the world with:
- Shared Experiences – exchanges, workshops, collaborative research and information sharing
- Organized Assistance – plans, designs, operations, and related capacity-building support
- Global Recognition and Advocacy – Promoting the assets of ASTC member institutions for public engagement in topical science based issues, locally and globally, and advocating collectively for continued global use and support of our field.
International capacity building
ASTC has gradually built its international agenda on the Toronto and Cape Town Declarations that resulted from the 5th and 6th Science Centre World Congresses (SCWC), respectively. Both Declarations state the importance of the science center field for STEM education and public engagement with science, as well as new responsibilities for the field to help build capacity for the creation and improvement of science centers worldwide. The Toronto Declaration recommends that science centers: “advocate that all citizens should have access to a science centre or its services in their own region”, and the Cape Town Declaration confirms and emphasizes the role and importance of a two-way dialogue that recognizes the role of Indigenous Knowledge Systems. To comply with these commitments, ASTC supports the establishment of science centers and museums in parts of the world where they are lacking. In that spirit, ASTC has contributed to discussions or has actively contributed to the plans for new science centers emerging in Argentina, Angola, and Sri Lanka. ASTC is willing to continue these efforts in other places in the world requesting its expertise.
The Mechelen Declaration
In 2014, at the First Science Center World Summit in Mechelen, Belgium, the Mechelen Declaration (MD) was signed. This seven point action plan provides a commitment to continue to move the informal science education and public engagement agenda forward, and suggests new ideas to allow partnerships to that purpose. ASTC has signed the declaration and is strongly committed to work toward the goals of the action plan. This is becoming crucial since it appears that there will be no new declaration, but that the Summit in 2017 will evaluate progress made on the Mechelen Declaration.
ASTC should consider acting on the following: help its members to live up to the declaration; set up specific network activities; help to increase visibility and recognition of the field with international organizations such as the UN, UNESCO, ICOM, ICSU etc. In addition, ASTC supports the idea to work towards the recognition of 2019 declared as the International Year of Science Centers.
There are many other science center networks and associations around the world, including those listed here.