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This talk is unfortunately cancelled, but hopefully will be rescheduled.


How Can We Inspire and Support the Next Generation of Scientists?

When: 13 Mar 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Where: The Simpkins Lee Seminar Room, Clarendon Laboratory, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PU (number 1 on this map)

Audience: Oxford Physics staff and invited guests (PE staff welcome)

We live during a time of unprecedented scientific discovery, but also pressing global challenges including climate change, increasing energy demands and healthcare for an ageing population. To lead the next wave of scientific discovery and address these challenges, we need to inspire, recruit and support the next generation of brilliant scientists. The question then is how best to do this? The standard model of science learning sets out a neat pipeline, whereby learners progress through a set of educational stages and a fully-formed researcher emerges at the end. Although this applies to some students, particularly those from more affluent backgrounds where school and home resources enable them to engage fully and consistently with science, does it hold true for students from other demographics? After all, in order to drive innovation we need diversity of thought, and integral to this is having a diverse cohort of researchers – the best of the best regardless of background.

Professor Kevin Crowley argues that the pipeline model isn’t fit for purpose because it doesn’t reflect the reality of how most people learn about science, therefore interventions to support science learning are misdirected, and consequently many potentially brilliant scientists drop out of the leaky pipeline. He maintains that science learning is better conceptualised as a “learning ecology” – a series of interconnected pathways encompassing both in-school and out-of-school experiences. In this talk, Professor Crowley will explore how a learning ecology model highlights opportunities for universities to support the next generation of scientists, and discuss some of the challenges we must overcome to realise their potential.

About the speaker: Professor Kevin Crowley is the director of the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE), which is a project of the Learning Research and Development Center and the School of Education. UPCLOSE conceptualises, develops and studies informal learning experiences. Their work explores what it means to learn and change as a result of activity in everyday environments including museums, commercial and community settings, on the web, and at home. They connect academic theory and real world practice. Their research focuses on relationships between learners, mediators, environments and experiences.