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Scientists make discoveries, engineers design new technologies, corporations develop and distribute new products, policymakers and researchers attempt to create positive impacts, and the public, ultimately, lives with the consequences. Ideally, however, all of these stakeholders would be informed and work together at all stages of scientific and technological development to ensure the best outcomes for society as a whole. But figuring out how to integrate the work of these often disparate and sometimes competing spaces—including labs, corporations, universities, funding organizations, governing bodies, and the homes and communities of the public—is challenging.
The Center for Engagement and Training in Science and Society (CENTSS) is working to dissolve those boundaries and to confront the challenge with creativity. CENTSS is a multi-disciplinary research center that aims to change how we as a society think about, learn about, and talk about science and technology. It develops novel approaches to interaction and engagement by integrating multiple disciplines, education levels, experiences, areas of expertise, and modes of communication.
CENTSS comprises eight core programs:
CENTSS will partner with practitioners and scholars at science centers, museums, and other community education spaces to create cutting-edge science-meets-society content, train the next generation of ISE professionals, and explore the future role of ISE institutions in our society. (Photo by Emily Maletz/ NISE Network.)
Designed to increase the public’s access to thoughtful content exploring science and society links, CENTSS writing programs will develop new generations of writers who can communicate the opportunities and challenges of science in 21st century society through a variety of communication genres and platforms.
CENTSS will develop new tools to expand on current pTA capacities to not only bring the public voice to technological decision-making, but create opportunities for citizens to take action.
To help increase interdisciplinary capacity in the sciences, engineering, and social scientists, CENTSS will develop and implement programs to provide mentorship and guidance to undergraduate and graduate students as they work to integrate disciplines in their research and practice.
The next upcoming Training Program is Science Outside the Lab, a two-week workshop located in Washington, DC during the summer. Students will meet and interact with the people who fund, regulate, shape, critique, publicize and study science, including congressional staffers, funding agency officers, lobbyists, regulators, journalists, academics, museum curators and others. More information at: http://cspo.org/program/science-outside-the-lab/
Spanning grades K-20, CENTSS will develop, package, and deploy ready-to-use curricula and programs aimed at changing the way students view the role of science in society.
CENTSS will develop novel methods to involve lay citizens in local, national, and international science projects.
Through novel methods of experiential learning, guided deliberation, and interactive experiences, CENTSS will move beyond the goal of public understanding of science to authentic public engagement with science regarding the role of emerging science in their homes, communities, and cities. Programs will also seek to reduce barriers between the multiple stakeholders involved in science and technology development and implementation.
While additional objectives will likely emerge and grow out of unique partnerships and interdisciplinary explorations, intended outcomes for CENTSS include the following:
Transformative research, training, and demonstration at the intersection of science and society
As Assistant Director of Education at CNS-ASU, Ira Bennett leads numerous education and outreach programs, including an NSF-funded program spanning 11 universities to increase diversity in science and technology studies and science policy fields; the Science Outside the Lab (SOtL) program; and the Informal Science Communication Program for graduate students.
Professor of Practice Gregg Zachary brings his skills as a journalist and historical researcher to better understand how people and institutions initiate technological change. Much of his recent work focuses on how African scholars and entrepreneurs are designing technologies for Africa.
As associate director of engagement and co-leader of the Equity, Equality, and Responsibility research track at CNS, much of Jameson Wetmore’s work focuses on developing ways for scientists, policymakers, and others to think about the relationships among science, technology, and societies, including technologies’ contribution to inequities between people, institutions, and countries.
Editor of the literary journal Creative Nonfiction and author and editor of more than 25 books, Lee Gutkind’s work with CENTSS focuses on using storytelling techniques to reach a wider audience with science policy and other science and society issues. He co-led the NSF-funded program To Think, To Write, To Publish, which teamed up policy wonks and writers to produce and publish creative nonfiction pieces on science policy.
Founder of Scistarter and Science Cheerleader, Darlene Cavalier has been a pioneer in creating spaces to facilitate lay citizen involvement in authentic science research.
Drawing on her extensive museum experience, Rae Ostman has been a driving force behind coordinating the nationwide public outreach of the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net), a national community of museums, researchers, and informal science educators.
As associate director of the DC CSPO office, Mahmud Farooque’s work focuses on linking science and innovation policy to improved decision-making and better societal outcomes.