Network for Emergent Socio-Scientific Thinking (NESST)
Welcome to NESST! The Network for Emergent Socio-Scientific Thinking
The Smithsonian Science Education Center’s newest project, the Network for Emergent Socio-Scientific Thinking (NESST), brings together young people, educators, scientists, researchers, community leaders, and museum professionals who are dedicated to educating for the future. Together, this group is working across borders, disciplines, and generations to understand how the fields of STEM Education for Sustainable Development (STEM4SD), Emergence, and Socio-Scientific Issues Education come together to address the biggest global issues of our time, like those outlined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Contribute To Our Landscape
We invite you and your colleagues to complete two surveys:
Organizations and Individuals Survey: This survey seeks to capture organizations and individuals who are engaging young people in STEM Education for Sustainable Development, or Socio-Scientific Issues Education geared toward action taking and global understanding. We expect it will take 15 minutes to complete this survey.
Curricular Materials, Instructional Materials, and Resources Survey: This survey is for those who have developed curricular materials to educate on these topics of STEM4SD, SSI, and related disciplines. This survey is a bit more thorough, and should take around 20 minutes to complete.
We appreciate your time and consideration! By sharing your information, you are contributing valuable data to help our committee map the field. As our work evolves, we may send you opportunities to engage further in the future as well. Our deadline for completing this survey is March 1, though we will continue to review and incorporate additional responses through the remainder of 2022. If you have colleagues working in the field who should be included in this landscape analysis, please forward the materials to them.
What is NESST? The Network for Emergent Socio-Scientific Thinking
NESST is an inclusive, collaborative, action-oriented community of purpose and emergent practice supporting STEM education for a sustainable future.
It is designed to engage diverse stakeholders and elevate emerging global voices in search of contemporary understandings of socio-scientific issues and inclusive approaches to sustainable development.
NESST’s future-focused, transdisciplinary actions inspire optimism through local solutions to global challenges.
As a community of purpose, our values include:
- Commitment to education
- Inclusion, collaboration and connection
- Evidence- and research-based practices in STEM and education
- Honoring, embracing, and amplifying diverse ways of knowing and understanding
- Engaging and empowering youth as decision-makers in their own communities, and in their own education process
- Embracing emergence in the context of complex socio-scientific issues and in the process of developing the network
- Solutions-oriented approaches to issues of sustainability and other complex challenges
- Valuing process alongside outcomes
How Are We Building The Network?
Formed in early 2021, the inaugural NESST Advisory Committee includes K-12 educators, university faculty, scientists, researchers, computer scientists, architects, museum professionals, university students, educational administrators, curriculum developers, game developers, and non-profit and NGO leaders. Together, this group has set out to address the following key areas of work:
NESST as a Professional Learning Community
Being a part of a professional learning community (PLC) brings together individuals with diverse perspectives to think about and explore common interests linked to socio-scientific issues in order to cultivate a community of purpose that fosters sustainable futures. Attending to our practices within professional learning communities helps us ensure that our shared norms, practices, and values are made visible. Being part of a PLC within NESST provides a unique community of diverse voices and practices (regionally, culturally, ethnically, professionally, linguistically, etc.) and allows individuals to collaborate on an international level and celebrate the diversity and insight we all bring to the table. This work hopes to foster equitable and respectful collaborations, creating, evolving, and sustaining a change in practice over time. NESST has identified a hub-and-spoke model for cultivating PLCs engaging in this work around the globe, with an opportunity for PLCs to interact, engage, and learn from one another.
Resources, Instructional Materials, and Curricular Materials
The foundation of the Smithsonian Science for Global Goals project and many other similar projects are high-quality, research-based curricular materials. Advisory committee members involved in this area of work focus on how the network can identify, share, create, and support the implementation of these resources for educators and young people around the globe. The goals of this group are to collect, collate, and curate resources; collaborate and create new resources; and communicate and connect with others focusing on resources in this space. They will also consider how different members of the network can be involved in the process.
The Engaging Youth working group will convene an international council of diverse youth from age 13 through the end of secondary school, to elicit their perspective on the relevance and the potential benefit of NESST’s work on emergent socio-scientific thinking. One goal of this Youth Ambassador Council is to support other NESST Advisory Committee key areas of work by providing the committee with multiple youth perspectives that can inform and influence the foundations of the network. The youth council will also work to engage and collaborate around topics found within the SDGs. They will learn from others across the world while they are taking action in their own local communities. Read more about the first 2022 cohort of Smithsonian Science Education Center Youth Ambassadors below.
Scholarship and Research
NESST Advisory Committee members involved in this area of work will evaluate and increase the scholarship, academic presence, and academic literature in the current field of STEM Education for Sustainable Development (STEM4SD). To do this, the group will review current scholarship around the topics that contribute to STEM4SD, develop new publications, and design ways to share this with, and support educators in, the field of STEM4SD.
Growing the Network
Growing the Network is an umbrella for the “core four” areas of work and seeks to prepare NESST for a successful and expansive future. This includes defining the scope of the network, and developing the intellectual, cultural, and digital infrastructure that the future work of NESST can reside upon. Growing the Network has a goal of creating infrastructure through 2030 to coincide with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In addition to the activities laid out, this group seeks to develop a flexible, sustainable, resilient community of purpose that supports students, educators, researchers, and organizations seeking to engage with education about global issues using a transdisciplinary, socio-scientific approach.
The NESST Advisory Committee has selected an inaugural group of committed young people to help advise, support, and collaborate on the work of NESST. In addition to these roles, the formation of the youth council also aims to support youth in:
- Increasing their awareness of emergent socio-scientific issues;
- Exploring their community-based experiences with these issues;
- Building an understanding of global-local interconnection and;
- Developing capacity and agency for hopeful and positive action regarding through STEM Education for Sustainable Development.
Meet our first cohort!
Check back soon to learn more about our first cohort of youth ambassadors.
Join Us in This Work
NESST is emergent in nature, and responsive to the needs of the current moment, which means we cannot predict exactly how the network will grow in the future. There will be several opportunities to engage with NESST in 2022 and beyond. Upcoming opportunities will include:
Joining the NESST Advisory Committee (Applications opening in May 2022)
Joining the Smithsonian Science Education Center’s Youth Ambassadors (Applications opening in May 2022)
Become a member of the network as an individual, or organization (more information available mid-2022)
For additional information about NESST, please contact:
Katherine P. Blanchard
Assistant Division Director of Professional Services