Broadening and Deepening the Impact: A Theoretical Framework for Partnerships between Science Museums and STEM Research Centres

Social Epistemology 23 (3):267-281 (2011)
The requirement by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that research proposals include plans for “broader impact” activities to foster connections between Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) research and service to society has been controversial since it was first introduced. A chief complaint is that the requirement diverts time and resources from the focus of research and toward activities for which researchers may not be well prepared. This paper describes the theoretical framework underlying a new strategy to pair NSF-funded nano research centres with science museums in order to achieve greater success in the broader impact mission, and to transform the perceived burden of the requirement into an opportunity to provide enhanced value to the constituencies of the partnering organizations, as well as to the larger community. This partnership approach is presented as a model that also can be applied to NSF-funded research centres in other STEM fields, and to non-NSF-funded STEM research centres nevertheless looking to pursue broader impacts types of activities. The model also provides an opportunity to stretch the typical spectrum of broader impacts activities to include citizen engagement in science, technology and societal concerns
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DOI 10.1080/02691720903364142
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