Middle Ground: Experiments in Urban Social Science

Sunday, October 1, 2017 to Wednesday, September 30, 2020
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Project Descriptions
Environment Type: 
Exhibitions, Museum and Science Center Exhibits, Parks, Outdoor, and Garden Exhibits
General Public | Museum/ISE Professionals
Social science and psychology
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The Exploratorium, in collaboration with the city of San Francisco, the Tenderloin and Civic Center communities, and national museum-community partners, are excited to announce Middle Ground: Experiments in Urban Social Science (fka Street Smarts), a project to bring research on social psychology to public urban environments. Middle Ground combines recent work by the Exploratorium in social science exhibitry and urban learning spaces to develop a novel contribution to science learning in public spaces. The project will produce an outdoor learning installation in front of San Francisco City Hall that will serve the exceptionally diverse audiences that frequent the area. The installation will be populated with exhibits that engage this public in social observation and participatory experiences, promoting learning about the science of social polarization, social dilemmas, and social norms. The project will also produce an online "Guide to People Watching" for the general public, with additional materials to support professionals in the creation of social science learning experiences. The project will be supported by a community of practice of professionals engaged in educational place-making. Finally, Middle Ground will produce new research on how to design experiences that prompt structured, quasi-scientific social observation skills and foster empathy for the social experience of others.

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Team Members

Shawn LaniPrincipal Investigator
Josh GutwillCo-Principal Investigator

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