In our research, we leverage ideas from citizen science and the open science movement to create an infrastructure for facilitating partnerships between volunteer STEM workers and social movement organizations. Towards this goal, we will do action research with the nonprofit organization Science for the People (SP). Science for the People engages in research, activism, and science communication for the betterment of society and the environment. Members of Science for the People are STEM workers, educators, and activists who are socially and ethically focused, and believe that science should be a positive force for humanity and the planet. We work with members of the Atlanta chapter of the organization, assisting them in building partnerships between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and STEM volunteers, and at the same time studying the process of how social movements can best use scientific knowledge of the volunteers.
The concept that people learn best when they are making something personally meaningful - also known as constructionism - is the lab's guiding philosophy. Computer networks have the potential to facilitate community-supported constructionist learning. The Electronic Learning Communities Lab examines ways communities of learners can motivate and support one another's learning experiences.