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

The Path Forward

By Cristin Dorgelo

I am thrilled to have taken the helm in January as ASTC’s president and CEO, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from, and serve, our members around the world.

In my path to this point, I’ve focused on the role of science and technology in solving the grand challenges facing society. Suffice it to say, I’m an optimist.

Talking with leaders and staff of science centers and museums at the 2017 ASTC Annual Conference, the Science Center World Summit 2017, and over the course of my first months at the helm here at ASTC, I heard repeatedly about your desire to collaborate across our community in shaping the future of our field. You know that science centers and museums must adapt our work to the impacts of changing economic, political, technological, and social landscapes in our communities.

This is a pivotal time for all of us, when informal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning is also changing rapidly. Advances in information technology, data science, and digital tools—and the resulting impact on social networks, communication, and learning—have significant implications for each of our institutions, and for the science-engagement opportunities we offer. As Peter Linett points out in this issue of Dimensions, “science is having a pretty impressive cultural moment.”

In the middle of all this change, ASTC members have vital roles to play in their local communities as well as in national and global efforts. As a field, we can offer inclusive and inspirational opportunities to engage with STEM, as demonstrated by the innovative adult-engagement programs in the pages that follow. We also can infuse the principles of scientific inquiry further into public discourse, organize our communities in advocating for investments in STEM education, and more. These opportunities and your enthusiasm for pursuing them have fueled my excitement for coming aboard here at ASTC.

ASTC’s membership is not homogenous—our nearly 700 member organizations from almost 50 countries around the world represent a wide range of institutional size and circumstance. You each face a unique context as you engage adults and youth in your communities.

Looking ahead at how ASTC will continue to serve and support you, our diverse members, in navigating the challenges you face—and reaching for the promising opportunities we together see on the horizon—I’m committed to working with the ASTC Board of Directors and all of our membership on forging our path forward. Together, we’ll develop a new vision for ASTC, clarify our core purpose, focus our strategy, and set a course toward shared goals.

Our new direction, vision, and strategy must be informed by your needs and aspirations. During 2018, ASTC will host a series of listening and ideation sessions with members, including through regional dialogues, online engagement, and member surveys. We’ll also seek input and ideas from creative minds outside our field—and we will seek feedback where appropriate from adults, families, and youth representatives of the communities science centers and museums serve. The resulting strategy will govern ASTC’s path forward and guide updates and improvements to the services and support we provide to our members.

I look forward to learning from you, hearing your ideas and input, and building a bright future for our field together.

Cristin Dorgelo is ASTC’s president and CEO.

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