Talking About My Generation: Creating Lifelong Learning Opportunities for Diverse Audiences at the American Museum of Natural History

By Edith Gonzalez de Scollard and Margaret Jacobs.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

We live in an era that is science and technology-driven, yet public understanding of even simple scientific concepts is extremely poor, often due to unequal access to educational opportunities. As society continues to be challenged with complex scientific and cultural issues, the role of informal education institutions becomes more critical in developing and supporting an informed and engaged citizenry. Like most museums, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) works to provide access to lifelong learning opportunities for individuals and families of all backgrounds and levels of knowledge and training. We envision AMNH as a place that could serve as a touchstone for science education, throughout one’s life. As AMNH continues to develop an educational pipeline spanning academic levels from pre-K to post-doc, we are exploring the “complexity and interconnectedness of learning experiences across the lifespan (Falk, et al 2008:4).” These efforts to engage our audiences in deeper and more sustained learning raises the question, “How can museums encourage audiences, with incredibly diverse educational backgrounds, to maintain lifelong relationships with science?” This paper examines strategies for engaging diverse audiences in lifelong learning.

Keywords: Lifelong Learning, Informal Science Learning, Scientific Literacy, Family Learning, Science Museums

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.19-26. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 610.747KB).

Edith Gonzalez de Scollard

Associate Director, Federal Programs, Strategic Project Development, New York, New York, USA

Edith Gonzalez de Scollard, Ph.D. is the Associate Director of Federal Programs at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. She is an historical anthropologist with an MA in anthropology (Hunter College, CUNY), an MA in historical archeology (University of Virginia) and a PhD (The Graduate Center, CUNY) fo-cusing on the historical archeology of slavery in Antigua, West Indies. She has worked in museum education for the last decade, specializing in family learning, object-based inquiry, cultural programming, engaging Latino audiences, and strategic project development.

Margaret Jacobs

Director of Youth Initiatives, Education Department, New York, New York, USA

Maggie Jacobs is the Director of Youth Initiatives at the American Museum of Natural History, where she supervises program staff for all middle and high school informal programming. Ms. Jacobs received a J.D. from Columbia Law School and a Masters in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University. Ms. Jacobs has spent over 15 years in the fields of child advocacy and youth development, prosecuting child abuse cases, teaching high school history, serving as a college counselor at a Harlem community-based organization and founding and running her own non-profit after-school program for public middle and high school students in Harlem. She has also served on the board of directors of the Educational Priorities Panel, a watchdog group monitoring the New York City public education budget, and currently serves on the Youth and Education Committee of her local Community Board.

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