Introducing ASTC’s Community Science Initiative

As communities grapple with daunting global and local challenges, and as the role of science and technology in our society continues to evolve, access for all people to engage with, participate in, and benefit from science, technology, and innovation is more important than ever.

The Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) is excited to announce a significant new Community Science Initiative—comprising several new and interlinked philanthropically funded programs—to connect and support our members in building capacity for Community Science programs, in which science-engagement practitioners and scientists collaborate with community members to do science that advances community priorities.

Community Science is an emerging practice aimed at nurturing relationships between science and communities—defined broadly as connected or organized groups of people who share a common geography, jurisdiction, set of characteristics, or common interests and goals.

ASTC is launching this new initiative because 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, connecting science and society, engaging diverse audiences, and partnering to solve local and global challenges.

A widely varied set of Community Science approaches in use by science and technology centers and museums and our partners include:

  • Public dialogue and deliberation programs on how science, technology, and innovation intersect with societal issues
  • Co-creation and co-design—with community members—of exhibits, content, programs, curriculum, and project-based learning opportunities
  • Citizen-science projects to address community questions (not just researcher questions)
  • Participatory, evidence-based policymaking
  • Environmental- and social-justice initiatives supported by researchers and by scientific evidence, data, and technology
  • Open challenges, competitions, and calls to action that seek specific scientific and technical solutions to difficult problems
  • Public participation in the design and implementation of research initiatives
  • Other community-centered science activities

ASTC’s new Community Science Initiative is an interconnected set of funded programs under ASTC’s second strategic pillar designed to support our members in leveraging community-science approaches so that they can lead with their communities in responding to societal trends. This initiative will:

  • Build capacity within ASTC members and their workforce to address community priorities through Community Science generally, and public dialogue and deliberation programs specifically
  • Create a framework and documentation of experimental models for Community Science that can be funded, evaluated, and replicated
  • Provide training on—and funding support for—approaches and models that welcome and include diverse community members
How YOU Can Get Involved
  • ASTC Science Center and Museum members can apply now to be a part of a pilot fellowship cohort to train one staff member and a community partner on participatory technology assessment and public-interest technology, and to receive a mini-grant to support fellows in convening a public-deliberation forum at their institution to advance a community priority or challenge related to public-interest technology. Apply by January 29, 2020!
  • In the coming months, ASTC will issue an open request for you to share your approaches to community science and be a part of one of our virtual listening sessions to learn more about the wide range of approaches that ASTC members and our partners are deploying to put community priorities at the center of their work.
  • This summer, ASTC and the Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) will announce opportunities for staff at ASTC member institutions to receive training in the TEX model of community-driven science, as well as mentorship in designing and implementing a project that uses science to make your community stronger.
  • In October 2020 at the ASTC Annual Conference, we will host a series of sessions to share findings from a landscape analysis, connect our members working on diverse approaches to community science, provide training on community-science models and practices, identify gaps, and assess opportunities for capacity building for community science generally, and for public dialogue and deliberation programs specifically.
  • In 2021 and beyond, ASTC will work with our partners and funders to launch additional capacity-building programs on community science, including dedicated support for scaling community dialogue and deliberation programs on issues of emerging science and technology.
Our Partners in This Work

The launch of 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.

In implementing the initial set of programs within our Community Science Initiative this year, ASTC will partner with the Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX), a multi-member collaborative launched by the American Geophysical Union (AGU)—as well as the Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) Network through two of its founding partners Arizona State University and Museum of Science, Boston—among other partners.

If you have any additional questions or feedback for ASTC as we launch this new Community Science Initiative, please email

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