Ensuring access to opportunity for all—and tackling today’s global challenges—requires that scientific research and technological development be connected with innovative approaches to lifelong learning and deep community engagement. 

The city of Pittsburgh, the site of our originally-planned in-person annual conference and national summit, inspired us: it evokes a sense of transformation and pursuit of change, and those traits have guided much of our thinking as we continue planning the ASTC Virtual 2020 Annual Conference and the New Frontiers Virtual National Summit

We chose the theme “New Frontiers in science, technology, learning, and community engagement toward a more equitable tomorrow” because of the essential and inclusive conversations we must have together to orient the future of research, innovation, education, and our communities toward a more equitable future. 

Two Events with One Shared Theme

  1. The ASTC Virtual 2020 Annual Conference will equip and inspire—via content and memorable, participatory experiences—professionals at the executive and staff levels in science and technology centers and museums as well as the broader science, technology, and learning ecosystems to deliver excellence in their institutions and value in their communities, across North America and around the world.
  2. The New Frontiers Virtual National Summit will highlight and pursue new approaches to scientific research and technology development, education and lifelong learning, civic participation, and policy development. The summit is an invitation-only convening for researchers, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and community leaders. For ASTC conference attendees, elements of this endeavor will already be a part of your experience. Science and technology centers and museums will be represented among summit participants.

The New Frontiers Summit, and elements of the ASTC Annual Conference related to the New Frontiers theme, have been generously supported by the Richard King Mellon FoundationThe Grable Foundation, and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

Additional Context on the Term “Frontiers”

The word “frontiers” is used in science and technology to refer to pushing the bounds of knowledge by tapping into human ingenuity, which often comes from unexpected places and collaborations. These pursuits lead us to expand our horizons in new and unknown ways.  

We acknowledge that “the frontier,” particularly in America, is a trope often used in connection with settler colonialism, as well as a logic used to justify its expansion and continuation. The violent, and ongoing phenomenon of colonialism, which significantly impacts Indigenous peoples, is antithetical to the spirit of the conference and ASTC’s work. Our goal is to define a set of new fields of knowledge generation and action, toward which we will set course together to ensure a more equitable tomorrow.

We find inspiration for this collective work and for our aim to foster a more equitable future in the legacy of the 2016 White House Frontiers Conference. This event took place in Pittsburgh and brought together innovators “reimagining the boundaries of what’s possible and shaping the future.”

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