An update on international collaboration from ASPAC, ASTC, Ecsite, NAMES, RedPOP, and SAASTEC.
Over the past year, hundreds of science centers and science museums from around the world have gathered in virtual forums to share insights and strategies for advancing science engagement and science learning in our communities as we navigate the challenges and losses suffered through the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis has highlighted the need to increase the understanding of, and engagement with, science among all people and has reinforced the critical role that science centers, science museums, and science engagement organizations can play in meeting that need across diverse communities worldwide.
Through the global convenings between science centers and science museum representatives from around the world, institutional leaders have had the opportunity to discuss the challenges they are facing, share what’s working for navigating new approaches and delivering on their missions, and surfacing opportunities to collaborate across international borders to advance the work of our institutions.
These forums have been organized by the networks that serve the worldwide science engagement and science center community: ASPAC (Asia Pacific Network of Science and Technology Centers), ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers), Ecsite (European network of science centres and museums and science engagement), NAMES (North Africa and Middle East Science centres network), RedPOP (Network for the Popularization of Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean) and SAASTEC (Southern African Association of Science and Technology Centres).
International cooperation between these networks is not new. Over a decade of science center world Congresses and the previous Science Centre World Summits that took place in 2017 in Tokyo, Japan and in 2014 in Mechelen, Belgium, were leading to a third Summit in Mexico City, Mexico, in 2020 hosted by MIDE, The Interactive Museum of Economics. But at the beginning of 2020, the six science center networks and their science engagement representatives that form the International Planning Committee (IPC) made the determination that the COVID-19 pandemic would not permit the planned 2020 Summit to take place. We thank Silvia Singer, Chair of the IPC, and everyone who worked on the Mexico edition of the Summit.
Going forward, regional networks are continuing our active collaboration through future convenings and through common action to advance science engagement, science communication, and science learning in communities across the world. We will work together with and for our members to strengthen the work we do to connect science and society to solve global challenges and advance the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals.
We look for more opportunities in 2021 to connect with fellow leaders from around the world through each of the international science engagement networks.