iPAGE 2.0: Understanding and Supporting Transformative Change Toward Equity in the ISE Sector
The informal science education (ISE) sector has an important role to play in addressing current societal issues, including changes in environmental conditions, systemic poverty, and societal responses to natural and manmade disasters. These complex social problems require engaging all sectors of society in deep discussions around science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM) and inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (IDEA). To do this, ISE professionals need training in how to bring in diverse perspectives, support inclusive learning, and provide equal access to institutional policymaking, practices and systems. People from different backgrounds within informal science institutions (ISIs) and local communities bring new perspectives, identify new needs, and foster innovation. This broadening of perspectives is critical to address the complex social problems of the 21st century. A key part of the needed transformations in informal science institutions is the preparation of change agents within the ISE sector capable of reimagining what just and equitable informal science institutions might look like. iPAGE 2.0 is an NSF Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) Innovations in Development project conducted by the Science Museum of Minnesota and the Garibay Group in concert with 27 ISIs from across the US. The overarching goal of the project is to support transformative change toward IDEA in the ISE sector. The project is based on an extension service model of knowledge diffusion which seeks to bridge the knowledge-to-action gap by creating intermediaries that can translate research into practical innovations that can be used by practitioners in ISIs. The project brings together teams of strategically placed individuals within ISIs and prepares them to work with their colleagues to enact research-based practices and practical organizational changes toward greater equity and diversity. This project is funded by the AISL program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments. This includes providing multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences, advancing innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments, and developing understandings of deeper learning by participants.
This ISE professional development initiative will work with annual first-year cohorts consisting of leadership teams from 4-6 ISIs. Each new cohort will spend 11 days together in a 5-day institute and three 2-day colloquia either virtually or at the Science Museum of Minnesota. Individuals and teams will adapt, implement, and refine ideas, strategies, and tools from the iPAGE 2.0 framework for use within their specific ISI context and broader professional networks and engage in ongoing communication and consultation with the iPAGE 2.0 community. All individuals on the team will develop skills, such as communication and collaboration expertise, to function as change agents acting to transform their organizations with respect to inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (IDEA) in STEM. Participants from previous cohorts will continue their roles as change agents and enhance learning in the iPAGE 2.0 community by sharing what they have learned at iPAGE 2.0 colloquia. The iPAGE 2.0 framework focuses on developing participants' understanding of 1) how structural inequalities function to reproduce social advantage and disadvantage within ISIs and the ISE sector; 2) the barriers, supports, and transmission vectors that contribute to or inhibit a continued shift in the sector toward IDEA within a network of practitioners, organizations, evaluators and researchers; and 3) how to prepare and support diversity change agents within the network. The project will employ a creative evaluation approach that combines developmental, principles-focused, arts-based, and transformative evaluation and an interactive, mixed-methods research study grounded in culturally responsive methodologies to address central questions concerning individual, organizational, and sector change. The project's primary audience is ISE professionals, and the secondary audience is researchers and evaluators working within the ISE sector. The project will work directly with an estimated 122 individuals from 27 ISIs.
This Innovations in Development award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.