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Community partnerships: more than new audiences

​​Commitment: Equity & inclusion

Science centres across Europe are pushing for the role of equity and partnership for diverse participation, with an aim to include and involve families who may not currently walk through the doors of our science centres. They have also been focussing on the value of partnership work, looking at how powerful relationships can have a far greater impact and are informing science content and programming, organisational policies and wider practice, and inspiring new ideas and new ways of working for practitioners.

A series of interviews with science centres and their community partners, alongside opportunity to share challenges, questions, resources and wider case studies and discussion with Jen DeWitt (senior research fellow, UCL Institute of Education) shares how equitable partnerships are vital for good community-based science learning and engagement and how, when built on trust with shared values, they provide great benefits for all parties and support science centres towards becoming more inclusive and open organisations.


Shaaron Leverment, Deputy CEO at ASDC
Acting CEO
The Association for Science and Discovery Centres
United Kingdom

Session speakers

Head of Education
Nature around the corner connects young people with nature for a sustainable future. It has opened up the organisation to working with local communities. All sectors of Naturalis Biodiversity Centre participate - not only education, but also collections and science. Yuri Matteman will speak on the wider positive effects on the commitment to be more diverse and inclusive this has had, both inside and outside the museum. He aims to be sharing his fireside chat with one of the students or teachers from the nature club to explore the benefits from their perspective.
Senior Research Fellow
IOE (UCL's Faculty of Education & Society)
United Kingdom
As an experienced researcher in the sector, Jen DeWitt will speak about the evaluation and measurement of partnerships and the impact on science centres, as well as participants. She will draw on the experiences of eight UK science centres involved in the Explore Your Universe programme, focusing on the beneficial impacts and exploring what common aspects across the programme supported the strongest partnerships.
Audience Development
MUSE - Museo delle scienze
AT MUSE: “not for me, without me” is in action. Two challenging pilot projects are taking place. The first project consists of guided tours of the museum led by mentally disabled persons backed by explainers, to break stereotypes, address prejudice & stress that disabilities might be unrevealed, but still among us with their inherent asset. A second programme involves meetings and large scale events co-produced with teenagers, where the teens are involved in selecting the topics and anchoring the meetings, requiring utmost openness & flexibility from staff at MUSE to highlight the contribution of the young people. Katia Franzoso will present the benefits of partnership for MUSE, and will bring a teenager, Suzanna, to join her for the fireside chat.
Senior project manager Education
NEMO is working with 3 different communities with a 'Tinkering with Adults' project, two working with migrant families, and one community within a neighbourhood with families with a low science capital. From the belief that Tinkering is a methodology that improves peoples self-confidence and their idea of science, NEMO works together with their community leaders to develop tinkering activities that suit their needs and train the community leaders to make sure the activities can continue after the end of the project. Meie will share how she values this project because of the two way learning curve and will aim to share their learning and shared expertise alongside one of their community partners.
Amanda smiling
Participation Catalyst
We The Curious
United Kingdom
‘Move at the speed of trust. Focus on critical connections more than critical mass – build the resilience by building the relationships.’ Adrienne Maree Brown We the Curious has been developing their approach to inclusion and representation through strategic partnerships with the West of England Centre for Inclusive Living and Creative Youth Network and will bring one of these community partners to the fireside interview. They seek partnerships to do more than just meet our needs, but seek partnerships because being an active part of our community is important and valuable. These powerful relationships have been informing content and programmes, policies and practice and inspiring us with new ideas and ways of thinking. Throughout the hiatus of a year’s enforced closure and staff furlough, We The Curious prioritised maintaining contact with partners and were able to offer support for their funding bids and co-design opportunities for young people on Creative Youth Networks courses. As they reopen, they are keen to continue to develop these relationships, where they move beyond a more transactional relationship of working together to deliver what we are good at - towards innovation and making the partnerships extraordinary – more than the sum of its parts!