NARST Membership Activities
It was an honor to be elected to serve in the role of NARST president-elect. Since the NARST 2015 annual international conference in Chicago, Illinois in April, I have become an active member of the presidential team (including Mary Atwater, current president, and Valarie Akerson, immediate past president) and have been working closely with the team on various tasks in support of the NARST membership and objectives. Among these tasks was the important work of having members vote for the revised NARST bylaws, which will move NARST from an operating organization to a governing organization. An historic number of NARST members voted (593), which equaled 36.9% of the total membership. Although this was the highest participation rate for any NARST vote, it did not reach the required 50% + 1 criterion. A second round of voting will be held in January, 2016. We need your full support to make NARST stronger as a governing organization so the board of directors (BOD) can shape and implement policies and goals that reflect the interests and objectives of the membership for NARST’s future.
Recognition of International Science Education” (RISE) program
As promised in my election statement, “I will extend NARST relationships with other scientific and educational organizations to collaborate on sustaining science education.” As the NARST president-elect, I initiated the “Recognition of International Science Education” (RISE) program, which is designed to recognize international events that demonstrate quality science education research and practice. The aim of RISE is to build relationships across organizations and provide publicity for NARST in international contexts. The RISE program is meant to act as a catalyst to extend NARST’s interests and collaboration efforts with other science education researchers in different countries. Furthermore, it is expected that NARST will be able to attract more regional scholars to become NARST members through this expanding social network. Finally, NARST anticipates that the countries that apply to the RISE program will experience local benefits with long-term impact on local needs. In developing the RISE program, I worked closely with Greg Kelly, Chair of the NARST Committee on External Policy and Relations, and RISE was approved by the NARST BOD. RISE eligibility, recruitment, application, review, and approval guidelines will be developed to fit with NARST’s policies and procedures.
NARST representatives to serve as research school mentors, speakers, and in other professional roles for NARST international affiliate events
In addition to the tasks described above, Valarie Ackerson, Tali Tal, and I met with ESERA board members and discussed collaboration between our two associations. One area where NARST can increase its presence is in the ESERA Summer School, which is designed to assist PhD students in science education by providing them with the opportunity to further their research and network with colleagues from around the world. ESERA invites experts in specific areas of science education to be mentors for their Summer Schools, including experts from NARST. To extend this collaboration with NARST, the following motion was made and approved by the BOD at our October meeting: In the event that an international affiliate of NARST requests NARST to identify representatives to serve as research school mentors, speakers, or in other professional roles, the International Committee should recommend NARST members in good standing and with the appropriate expertise and rank.
Ad Hoc Committee on Virtual Conference Options
Third, the needs of the membership are an ongoing focus of my work for NARST. Although there are more and more NARST members attending the annual international conference (attendance was around 1,800 in 2015), there remain some national and international members who cannot attend the conference for various reasons. In order to provide more opportunities for NARST members to discuss current issues related to science education, a virtual pre-conference before the annual international conference might be organized to allow interactive online discussions. At the October BOD meeting, the BOD approved the president-elect to create an ad hoc committee to investigate the feasibility of a virtual conference and to report to the BOD by the April 2016 board meeting.
A formal call to the membership for involvement in NARST committees and strands
Finally, NARST has been growing over the past decade in terms of membership and programming. NARST members are actively involved in various activities, including attending the annual international conference and serving as members of committees and strands in order to contribute their wisdom, creativity, and passion to the continued growth of NARST. As President-Elect, one of my responsibilities is to recommend to the NARST BOD the appointment of new committee members to the NARST eight Standing Committees (see details at https://www.narst.org/about/committees.cfm) and 15 Strand coordinators. All members worldwide (including those in graduate programs) are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to serve the Association by participating on a committee or strand. The Association needs you!
For NARST members who wish to nominate themselves for the service openings that will start after the 2016 annual international conference, please keep your eyes open for the call for nominations. We will try to balance the members in terms of level of seniority, gender, and ethnicity. Once you are appointed to a committee or strand, you are expected to attend the related meetings at the international conference in order to discuss issues and initiatives relative to your committee or strand mission(s). Such appointments usually span multiple years so each appointed member can capitalize on developing and implementing long-term plans and develop a deep commitment to the committee or strand. In turn, appointed members benefit from building social networks, enhancing professional connections, and developing leadership through their involvement on a committee or strand. Committee and strand members also learn about the functions and composition of the Association and help to shape the directions and visions of NARST. NARST relies on your input and effort to make it a sustainable Association that positively impacts science education societies across the world. Serving on a committee or strand extends your contribution to the global science education community for the next generation. I hope you will consider applying for one of the NARST openings when the call comes out in January.
If you have any questions related to serving on a committee or strand, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On a more personal note, I want to express how much I value the opportunity to serve the Association and its members. I hope my enthusiasm for science education will be felt at all levels of the organization and that the coming year will be filled with opportunities for collaboration and growth for all of the wonderful science researchers and practitioners who make NARST the organization it is.
I look forward to continuing my work with the presidential team and other NARST officers and members. By working together, NARST’s impact on the future of science education, both locally and globally, will be profound.