A conference to explore theories regarding how moral motives move people from STEM information learning to STEM-informed action

Wednesday, September 15, 2021 to Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Resource Type:
Project Descriptions | Projects
Environment Type: 
Professional Development, Conferences, and Networks, Conferences
Museum/ISE Professionals | Scientists | Learning Researchers
Health and medicine | Social science and psychology

Informal learning institutions--museums, libraries, news organizations, and others--work to inform their audiences about the rapidly emerging scientific consensus on various topics. Often this information invites action such as social distancing during a pandemic. What motivates people to act upon that information (or not)? When recommended actions can yield good or bad outcomes for oneself, the information needs to fit with motivational tendencies towards preventing bad outcomes and/or promoting good outcomes. Recent theories indicate similar motives for recommended actions that affect others: family, friends, neighbors, and up the scale to the societal and the biological world. This small virtual conference will bring together STEM researchers and practitioners to offer a transdisciplinary and practically minded critique of the model of moral motives and discuss its implications for actions related to STEM topics. Specifically, the conference will use data collected by NSF RAPID grant (#2027939) that connects people’s news consumption, their compliance with COVID-19 prevention recommendations, and their judgments of whose wellbeing (from self to society) recommended behaviors protect or promote.

This small virtual conference will recruit approximately 16 attendees including transdisciplinary scholars whose work addresses social responsibility in the context of STEM informal learning and practitioners from a broad range of sectors including science centers, libraries, zoos, and the media. Individual disciplines will include anthropology, psychology, the interdisciplinary fields of the learning sciences and judgement and decision-making. The conference strategy will include synchronous, asynchronous, and small group collaborations in addition to full-group discussion. Conference activities will spread over 8 weeks. The structure of the conference is loosely based on the Open Space Technology approach (i.e.: General & Lantelme, 2014, Owen 1997). To build capacity in these various informal learning sectors participants will distill implications about moral motives into practical advice to publish in the conference proceedings that will include a report on the initial and collaboratively revised models. An editable version of the proceedings will allow registered practitioners to further critique and develop that advice. The conference proceedings will be distributed as a short Creative Commons e-book with copies and links distributed on the website of the Center for Advancing Informal STEM Education , and through all the participant’s professional research and practitioner societies.

Funding Program: 
Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL)
Award Number: 
Funding Amount: 

Team Members

John VoiklisJohn VoiklisPrincipal Investigator
Jena Barchas-LichtensteinJena Barchas-LichtensteinCo-Principal Investigator

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