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By Beth Hawkins on

Organisational change: Science capital and the Science Museum Group

The organisational change series shares our experience and progress to date in applying and embedding a science capital approach across the Science Museum Group. This first post looks at how we began the process.

Illustration of hanging globe exhibit in Science Museum with staff member engaging family groups.

From 2012-2017 we were a partner in the Enterprising Science project, a research and development project using the concept of science capital to understand how young people from all backgrounds engage with science and how their engagement might be supported.

As a STEM focused group of museums, science and cultural engagement is at the heart of our work and through our involvement in this project, we recognised that the concept of science capital spoke to our Science Museum Group mission and values.

So, as part of our new ’Inspiring Futures 2017-2030 strategic priorities’, we made our number one core priority to ‘grow science capital in individuals and society’. But, how do we deliver to this huge and ambitious strategic priority?

At the start of the process we asked ourselves:

  1. What value and benefits does a science capital approach offer our museums and visitors?
  2. What does science capital informed practice look like – what are we working towards?
  3. Will there be different messages and approaches across different departments and functions?
  4. Who needs to be involved and who needs to champion the effort?
  5. How do we reach such a large number of people across five different sites?

When discussing these questions, we saw the importance of taking an organisation-wide approach to enable us to translate the science capital research into operational realities. We wanted to help all staff to feel empowered and motivated to use and apply the good practice from the research, and not make it something that was simply voiced by the learning department.

What does, or could this, look like in practice?

With almost 2,000 staff and volunteers working in our museums, across many different departments and functions, we found many challenges that we needed to address. Dissemination involved utilising internal communication channels, distributing hard copies of materials and providing training both online and face-to-face.

Alongside this, the Science Museum Group Academy launched in October 2018. The Academy was set up to share research-informed science engagement training and resources for teachers, museum (both internal and external) and STEM professionals, and others involved in STEM communication and learning.

Future posts from the organisational change blog series will feature more detail, examples and stories from our roll out of the science capital approach, including how we created our courses and resources and our perspectives, findings and challenges from dissemination and internal communication.

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