The visit to Nacka Nature School was the final stop on my 3-month European tour. After returning to Munich for the last time, I flew to Los Angeles for the 2007 annual conference of the Association of Science-Technology Centers. Attended by nearly 2,000 delegates, this is the largest regular gathering of informal science education professionals and best place to get a sense of where the field is headed. It was my 17th year at the conference.
While I’ll leave a review of the conference to others, I would like to offer a few observations.
First of all, the topic of climate change was on everyone’s mind. Two years ago, intelligent design was part of many conversations. Last year, there really wasn’t a hot topic per se. In fact, ASTC’s campaign on global warming, called “IGLO,” was still new and struggling to gain traction.
This year, things were very different. Climate change was mentioned in almost every other conversation and at the highest levels. Even the after-dinner show at the conference banquet, generally a lighthearted event with local dance cloggers or an entertaining speaker, was devoted to a new high-energy, multimedia program on the poles and climate change, featuring live polar scientists and Andy Revkin, a well-published reporter from the New York Times who has covered the global warming beat for a long time. Dubbed “Polar Palooza,” the program was introduced by Walter Staveloz, who heads up ASTC’s IGLO project on global warming.
So what’s next?
Barring the unforeseen, this will be my last post to this blog. I will be writing up some observations on how European museums were representing the issue of global warming as of the summer of 2007. You can look for something by the end of the year – check http://www.sciencenter.org/ for a free download.
I also plan to write an article and share a few thoughts at future conferences, as opportunities come up.
At the Sciencenter, I look forward to working together with our staff and its new Green Team to see how we can further reduce our carbon footprint, become more sustainable as an organization, and use our experience in science and education to help accelerate the international effort to reduce global warming and its impacts.
For those interested, here are a few statistics:
35 science-related museums in 10 countries visited
50 museums (all types) visited
155 pages of notes transcribed
8,000 photos catalogued
27,000 km traveled
3,500 kg of CO2 generated by the travel
$55.08 in associated CO2 offsets purchased (via ClimateCare.org)
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I am thankful to everyone who has helped to make this tour possible. In addition to all of the wonderful museum people I met, who are far too numerous to list here individually, I would like to acknowledge the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Bonn for their financial support, the board of trustees of the Sciencenter of Ithaca, NY for granting me sabbatical leave with salary, Lara Kimber for not only filling in for me as executive director but also moving the organization forward in my absence, and the Deutsches Museum for hosting us in Munich.
I am grateful to my wife Nancy Trautmann for taking this adventure with me and providing so many good ideas and a regular sounding board along the way. Finally, I would like to close the loop by thanking her mother Ruth Morton, who is a constant source of inspiration to me and all who know her.