ASTC’s Community Science Initiative is comprised of several new and interlinked philanthropically-funded programs to connect and support our members in building capacity for their own community science work. Our online resource hub describes a community science framework—including a set of broad and inclusive attributes, outcomes, and approaches to community science—as well as examples, resources, and tools to support efforts within science and technology centers and museums.

Visit communityscience.astc.org to read about our community science framework and explore our resource library.

What is Community Science?

Community science is an emerging practice for the science and technology center and museum field aimed at nurturing relationships between science and communities. We define “communities” broadly as connected or organized groups of people who share a common geography, jurisdiction, set of characteristics, or interests and goals. Community science gives science-engagement practitioners and scientists the opportunity to collaborate with community members to do science that advances community priorities.

Community science encompasses a diverse set of community-centered approaches, models, and tools that science and technology centers and museums can use to fulfill their missions to advance lifelong science learning, connect science and society, engage diverse audiences, and partner to solve local and global challenges. A wide variety of approaches to community science are currently in use by our members and partners, including:

  • Dialogue and deliberation: Public dialogue and deliberation programs on how science, technology, and innovation intersect with societal issues 
  • Community-driven citizen science: Projects that address community interests and questions using research approaches co-developed by non-professional scientists
  • Civic engagement and policy making: Using research as an input for collective action and making policy and governance decisions to advance communities’ goals
  • Open innovation: Open challenges, competitions, and calls to action that use science and technology to solve difficult problems 
  • Participatory research: Community participation in the design and implementation of research initiatives

What’s Next for ASTC’S Community Science Initiative?

ASTC’s Community Science Initiative supports our members in leveraging community science approaches so that they can join their communities in responding to societal trends. In alignment with ASTC’s Strategic Direction, the Community Science Initiative, including the information and resources contained in this website, is aimed primarily at building capacity for and scaling the practice of community science among science and technology centers and museums, and allied science engagement organizations. 

With the support and collaboration of our partners, ASTC is developing a range of opportunities for professionals at our member organizations to build their skills and expand their institutional capacity for community science. From year-long fellowship programs to individual workshops and seminars and including pilot and seed funding programs, ASTC’s Community Science Initiative provides a range of opportunities to explore and expand promising approaches to community science. In addition to our current Dialogue & Deliberation Fellows and Thriving Earth Exchange Community Science Fellows, we are working to create additional training modules, toolkits, and funding opportunities that welcome and include diverse community members in the practice of community science. 

Our aim is that this platform will support science and technology centers and museums, and allied institutions of science learning and engagement, in fulfilling their missions to advance lifelong science learning, connect science and society, engage diverse audiences, and partner to solve local and global challenges. Stay tuned for future updates, and explore our current resources:

  • Our resource library includes promising examples and experimental models of community science that can be funded, evaluated, and replicated. 

  • Our toolkit for Dialogue & Deliberation outlines key skills and methods for engaging community members in discussions that surface or refine community priorities and support decision making around difficult complex societal challenges at the intersection of science, technology, and human well-being.

  • Join our online Community of Practice to connect with other science engagement professionals and share questions, challenges, expertise, and resources.

Our Partners in This Work

This initiative is made possible with the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Public Interest Technology University Network. We’re grateful for their support of—and vision for—community science at ASTC and across our member institutions with their community partners.

Interested in Community Science? 

To stay connected to ASTC’s Community Science Initiative and to learn about upcoming community science activities, including clinics, webinars, and more, sign up for our interest list below.

If you have any additional questions or feedback for ASTC about the Community Science Initiative, please send us an email.

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