Outreach, inreach, midreach, let’s call the whole thing off

19 July 2006

In semi-work mode, I read Carolyn Collins-Peterson‘s essays on philosophy and astronomy. I am heartened to read about her philosophy of using astronomy to inspire interest in other areas of science and society. It resonates particularly with some discussions at work about who we reach with astronomy education. Thinking about my own experiences from public stargazing, observatory tours, and science center programs, they all seem fairly skewed demographically towards those already culturally, economically, educationally, or in some other way predisposed towards science and astronomy.

The title of this post comes from an article in the proceedings from Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2005. I can’t remember the specific article in which I read about talking to people who have had little to no contact with your ideas versus talking to those already more or less on your side. The best example of that I have seen is a beach cleanup I was invited to participate in as a member of UHH GLO. The event was hosted by a group associated with Kulia Na Mamo, and the site was selected because, in addition to having lots of litter, it would bring participants into contact with people not familiar with, for example, transgender lifestyles. If science education were really as visionary and brave as those ladies are, I think it would be much cooler.

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