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.
The International Science Center and Science Museum Day (ISCSMD) is a yearly, global event illustrating the impact and reach of all the world’s science centers and science museums. It demonstrates the role these institutions play with their millions of visitors in raising awareness of—and engagement in—sustainable development and the solutions to worldwide challenges such as climate change, human health, energy, waste, water shortages, gender, oceans, and other global issues.
Science centers and science museums worldwide take the opportunity of this day to celebrate and promote their missions through widely diverse informal science education and engagement activities addressing the critical topics articulated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the world’s nations in late 2015.
ISCSMD is held on November 10 annually, in conjunction with the World Science Day for Peace and Development.
The 2018 ISCSMD theme is “Science, a Human Right.”
Follow ISCSMD on Facebook @iscsmd.
The World Biotech Tour (WBT) was a three-year initiative designed to promote a greater understanding of biotechnology through public outreach and programming led by science centers and museums. The project was also an opportunity for ASTC to collect useful data on the resources required and challenges encountered at different science museums around the world when implementing a long-term, multi-country program. Learn more about the project and read the meta-study report on the WBT website.
2018 is a year of great opportunities for coral reefs. Coral reefs host 30% of the oceans ecosystem but 6,000 species—and the services of coral reefs to humans—are threatened by, among other things, climate change. A collective effort during this year could generate the necessary awareness on international level to mobilize partners who could create change. The BNP Paribas Foundation is one of the actors through its involvement in research on climate change. The Foundation’s Climate Initiative program supports a research project aiming at measuring and predicting the consequences of global warming on coral reefs. Between 2017 and 2019, a team of researchers from France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the role of every coral fish species ecological role around the French Polynesian islands.
ASTC and the BNP Paribas Foundation are partnering to increase people’s awareness of the threats to coral reefs and ways that scientists try to save them with the help of the public. Local and international science centers and museums, as well as scientific researchers, are involved and are supported by the foundation and/or working with ASTC to provide quality scientific content through an interactive experience.