The digital publication of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)

Dimensions, November/December 2018—Beyond STEM: 21st-century Skills


November/December 2018

General skills, soft skills, 21st-century skills: simple names for critical proficiencies. They include communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, curiosity, cultural competency, caring, empathy, the ability to listen, and the capacity to support and be supportive of colleagues and mentors. Whether we excel at them or are only just starting to recognize their importance in our lives and work, there’s plenty to learn in the following articles.Some key takeaways from the articles featured in this issue are that soft skills have been valued in the museum field since at least the 19th century. They are hard, but with the right training, anyone can learn and develop them. Empathy, for example, takes a lot of work but can yield positive business results. Creative communication approaches, such as musical theater productions, can engage broad audiences. Science center staff can model communication in life-changing ways for parents and children. And making personal connections and even relationships between scientists and visitors is an essential aspect of engaging the public.

  • The Place of Soft Skills in Informal Science Learning, by Lesley Markham
  • A Case for Empathy, by Anne Richardson
  • Designing for Empathy, by Elif M. Gokcigdem
  • Reconnecting Parents and Children Through Science, by Jaqueline Cummins
  • Musical Math, by Denise Studart, Paulo Colonese, and Leticia Guimarães
  • Portal to the Public: The Power of a Personal Approach, by Eve Klein and Anna Johnson
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