Diversity, equity, access, inclusion, and belonging-related change is often difficult to achieve in organizations. In the context of Informal STEM Learning (ISL), this results in inequitable opportunities for both ISL professionals and learners to engage in STEM environments and experiences. For people to thrive in these settings, creative and innovative approaches that address historical and current realities of intersectional marginalization and inequitable norms within informal STEM institutions are necessary to disrupt conventions, institutional barriers, and patterns of inequities. TERC and the Detroit Zoological Society will develop and implement an ISL Equity Resource Center (the Center). The Center will advance equity within the ISL field by cultivating a multi-sector, diverse learning community that designs and conducts evidence-based research and practice, including but not limited to equity-focused leadership, decision-making, theory, methods, project topic selection and design, and budget management.
The Center will cultivate lasting change in the ISL and broader STEM learning ecosystem via (a) sharing more inclusive, culturally relevant, and responsive ISE research and practice; (b) identifying scalable, equity-focused research findings useful in ISL programming; and (c) promoting greater public awareness of the importance of broadening participation in STEM. The Center's primary stakeholders are ISL professionals, including researchers, practitioners, and evaluators. The Center will maintain and expand a digital infrastructure to support innovation and sharing across the ISL field. Through its combined efforts, the Center will raise the visibility and impact of ISL equity-focused research and practice and its contributions to the overall STEM endeavor. The Center will also organize and host the biennial AISL Awardee Meeting. The Center is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program, which seeks to (a) advance new approaches to and evidence-based understanding of the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments; (b) provide multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences; (c) advance innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments; and (d) engage the public of all ages in learning STEM in informal environments.
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