International Conference: Towards a 21st Century Approach to Science Education Policy

Leading science educators from 9 South and Southeastern Asian countries and the U.S. met for three days in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (October 4-6, 2017) in an effort to rethink and re-envision science education in the 21st Century. The attendees of this U.S. National Science Foundation-funded international conference reaffirmed the G8-Science Academies Joint Statement (2011) that education in science must be targeted not only to future scientists, engineers and other specialists in government and industry but also to the general public, including school-aged children and adults. The attendees at the October meeting further asserted that public science education should be relevant for all individuals. Participants unanimously approved a policy document that stated that all nations should move towards a four-pronged approach to science education; one that equally engages each of four critical educational sectors or pillars – formal; informal/free-choice; business/industry; and, family/community; all with the policy objective to:

1. Build awareness and interest in the importance of lifelong science learning and participation.

2. Share examples of evidence-based practice and seek opportunities for collaboration and cooperation nationally and internationally.

3. Leverage existing formal, informal/free-choice, business/industry and family/community assets and structures to support lifelong science learning and participation.

4. Ensure personal, cultural and societal/global relevance by connecting science to people’s lives and providing equal access for all.

A major focus of the meeting was the increasingly critical role played by informal/free-choice science learning. The important contributions this key educational sector makes are often under-appreciated and under-supported within national science education policy. The informal/free-choice science education community has demonstrated an ability to innovatively support the public’s learning in ways that are both relevant to their basic needs, as well as to the health of the planet. Attendees explored ways to better coordinate and support the actions of this vital sector in order to weave access to science learning throughout all of the learning spaces of societies and the activities of daily life.

Project  Team: John H. Falk Ph.D.Lynn Dierking Ph.D.Judith Koke

REPORT: Malaysia Conference