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A New Sustainability Fellowship for Science Center Staff

The ASU Sustainability in Science Museums Fellowship program is modeled on the ASU National Sustainability Teachers’ Academy. Here, participating middle school teacher Karen Batson tours the Roosevelt Center of Sustainability in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Tim Trumble

The ASU Sustainability in Science Museums Fellowship program is modeled on the ASU National Sustainability Teachers’ Academy. Here, participating middle school teacher Karen Batson tours the Roosevelt Center of Sustainability in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Tim Trumble

Written by Stacey Freeman

Science centers and museums have the potential to help millions of visitors understand the social, environmental, and economic impacts of human behavior on creating a sustainable future. Through our Sustainability in Science Museums program, the Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at Arizona State University (ASU) is working to bridge the knowledge of ASU’s 350 sustainability scientists and scholars with science centers’ expertise in reaching broad, diverse audiences.

As part of this effort, the Walton Initiatives have partnered with ASTC on the Sustainability in Science Museums Fellowship, which officially launched at the 2015 ASTC Annual Conference in Montreal in October. The Fellowship will help to equip science center and museum staff with tools and training to engage their visitors in sustainability efforts.

“Science centers and museums are trusted public institutions and a perfect venue to engage the world’s citizens in learning about solutions to global challenges,” said Patricia Reiter, executive director of the Walton Initiatives. “To work with ASTC and its member institutions is not just an honor but also an opportunity to develop the innovative change agents of tomorrow.”

Twenty Fellows from science centers and museums around the world will be selected to participate in the yearlong Fellowship. Fellows will be immersed in a weeklong intensive workshop at the ASU campus in Tempe, Arizona, where they will receive sustainability training and professional development from ASU scientists, faculty, and staff. The inaugural workshop will be held during the annual Sustainability Solutions Festival in February 2016.

After the workshop, Fellows will return to their science centers to implement sustainability-related public outreach projects with ongoing support from ASU’s Walton Initiatives. Fellows will maintain contact with each other through online learning resources, sharing best practices and building a valuable network. In addition, Fellows will train other informal science professionals on how to increase public understanding of sustainability.

“Science centers everywhere aspire to inform and engage their communities in science-based activities that help ensure a healthy and sustainable planet. The Science Centre World Summit 2017, scheduled to convene in Tokyo, has set a goal for ‘connecting the world for a sustainable future,’ and it is in this spirit that we are proud to partner in launching this Sustainability Fellowship initiative,” said Anthony (Bud) Rock, ASTC’s president and CEO. “This Fellowship will help science centers demonstrate commitment to the objectives set forth for the Summit by helping to raise public awareness and engagement in global efforts for a sustainable future.”

Applications for the Fellowship will be available in October at sustainabilitysolutions.asu.edu/sciencemuseums and accepted through November 30. Fellowship recipients will be announced on December 18. Travel and fees for the workshop will be covered by ASU, and Fellows will receive a $3,000 stipend ($1,000 at the beginning of the Fellowship and $2,000 upon completion of the approved project at their museum).

ASU is home to the School of Sustainability, established in 2006 as the first comprehensive degree-conferring sustainability program in the United States. The Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives are a program of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, the hub of ASU’s sustainability initiatives. To learn more, visit sustainabilitysolutions.asu.edu.

Stacey Freeman (Stacey.Freeman@asu.edu) is program manager for Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives at Arizona State University.