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Professional Development

Communities of Practice
ASTC is committed to a Communities of Practice approach to growing the field of informal science education, with the goal of supporting sustained and impactful professional development that has field-wide impact. Participation in CoPs is open to all ASTC members and other Informal Science Education (ISE) partners.

What are Communities of Practice?

ASTC Communities of Practice (CoPs) are groups of ISE professionals who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.

All CoPs are organized around:
  • a shared domain of interest and/ or practice
  • opportunities for interaction and communication
  • shared goals for improving practice to advance the science center/ISE field

Explore these CoPs and sign up:
  • Advocates for Diversity
  • Citizen Science
  • Development Professionals
  • Early Childhood
  • Information Technology
  • Making & Tinkering Spaces in Museums
  • Membership Managers
  • Museum Screens
  • Network for Leaders of Interpreters, Facilitators and Explainers (NetLIFE)
  • Public Engagement with Science
  • Research & Evaluation
  • Science Centers and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
  • Small Museums
  • STEM Afterschool
  • Taking STEAM to TASC
  • Visitor Services
  • Volunteer Managers
  • Youth Programs
ASTC has many resources available to support these communities, including:
  • Dedicated ASTC staff liaison support
  • Listing of CoP on ASTC website, online calendar of events, and social media feeds
  • Marketing of CoP activity in appropriate ASTC member communications
  • Directed marketing to appropriate ASTC member segments and partner organizations
  • Implementation support for teleconferences, webinars, and in-person meetings at the ASTC Annual Conference
  • Ability to survey ASTC membership once annually (approval required)
  • Free access to full functionality of ASTC Connect, the association's online learning platform
  • Board level impact: CoP activities will shape ASTC's leadership and field development strategy

ASTC Communities of Practice are located on our Community site, This platform allows CoPs to host discussions, share resources, and connect with other members of the field. Instructions for joining the ASTC Community are below.

How to Join the Online ASTC Community (1 MB)| Need help?

Create a Community of Practice

ASTC welcomes and encourages proposals from the field. If you are interested in forming a new Community of Practice, please take a moment to review ASTC's eligibility requirements below before submitting your proposal.


  • Primary CoP contact must be an ASTC member or employed by an ASTC-member institution
  • Must have a specific issue or audience identified (e.g., Explainers and Facilitators, CEOs, Developing Content about Energy in Science Centers, Volunteer Management, etc.)
  • Should have a preliminary engagement plan developed (e.g., conference calls, in-person meetings, webinars, chat forum, etc.), including draft timeline for implementation
  • Must identify a legacy product for sharing CoP output with the field (e.g., white paper, presentation archives, annual conference session, ASTC Dimensions article, blog post, etc.)
For CoP consideration, please contact ASTC's Professional Development team.

COP Proposal Form (208 KB)| Need help?

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