Center for Engagement & Training in Science & Society

Changing the way we think, learn, and talk about science and technology

Scientists make discoveries, engineers design new technologies, corporations develop and distribute new products, policymakers and researchers attempt to create positive impacts, and the public, ultimately, lives with the consequences.  Ideally, however, all of these stakeholders would be informed and work together at all stages of scientific and technological development to ensure the best outcomes for society as a whole. But figuring out how to integrate the work of these often disparate and sometimes competing spaces—including labs, corporations, universities, funding organizations, governing bodies, and the homes and communities of the public—is challenging.

adult working with children at science centerThe Center for Engagement and Training in Science and Society (CENTSS) is working to dissolve those boundaries and to confront the challenge with creativity. CENTSS is a multi-disciplinary research center that aims to change how we as a society think about, learn about, and talk about science and technology. It develops novel approaches to interaction and engagement by integrating multiple disciplines, education levels, experiences, areas of expertise, and modes of communication.

Along with the Center for Nanotechnology in Society (CNS) at Arizona State University, CENTSS will be housed at ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes (CSPO), where existing research and partnerships will be leveraged to integrate natural sciences, social sciences, ethics, education, communication, and journalism.

rae workingWhile additional objectives will likely emerge and grow out of unique partnerships and interdisciplinary explorations, intended outcomes for CENTSS include the following:

  • Expanded formal & informal science and engineering education opportunities that integrate ethics, policy, and social studies
  • Novel and effective methods to communicate science studies and policy issues to a larger audience
  • Civic involvement methods that promote a shift from public understanding of science to public engagement with science
  • Transformative research, training, and demonstration at the intersection of science and society


Who is CENTSS?



Ira Bennett, Co-director of CENTSS

As Assistant Director of Education at CNS-ASU, Ira Bennett leads numerous education and outreach programs, including an NSF-funded program spanning 11 universities to increase diversity in science and technology studies and science policy fields; the Science Outside the Lab (SOtL) program; and the Informal Science Communication Program for graduate students.



Jameson Wetmore, Co-director of CENTSS

As associate director of engagement and co-leader of the Equity, Equality, and Responsibility research track at CNS, much of Jameson Wetmore’s work focuses on developing ways for scientists, policymakers, and others to think about the relationships among science, technology, and societies, including technologies’ contribution to inequities between people, institutions, and countries.




Darlene Cavalier

Founder of Scistarter and Science Cheerleader, Darlene Cavalier has been a pioneer in creating spaces to facilitate lay citizen involvement in authentic science research.




Netra Chhetri

With a joint appointment in ASU’s CSPO and School of Geographical Sciences, Netra Chhetri’s interdisciplinary work focuses on integrating geographic inquiry with science and technology, including examining the human dimensions, such as politics and economics, of climate change.



Mahmud Farooque

As associate director of the DC CSPO office, Mahmud Farooque’s work focuses on linking science and innovation policy to improved decision-making and better societal outcomes.



Lee Gutkind

Editor of the literary journal Creative Nonfiction and author and editor of more than 25 books, Lee Gutkind’s work with CENTSS focuses on using storytelling techniques to reach a wider audience with science policy and other science and society issues. He co-led the NSF-funded program To Think, To Write, To Publish, which teamed up policy wonks and writers to produce and publish creative nonfiction pieces on science policy.



Rae Ostman

Drawing on her extensive museum experience, Rae Ostman has been a driving force behind coordinating the nationwide public outreach of the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net), a national community of museums, researchers, and informal science educators.



Cynthia Selin

As leader of anticipation and deliberation research for CNS-ASU, Cynthia Selin has designed and led multiple projects focused on scenarios, strategic planning, and public engagement related to emerging technologies. She holds joint appointments in ASU’s CSPO and the School of Sustainability and currently has fellowships at the Technical University of Denmark and the University of Oxford.



Gregg Pascal Zachary

Professor of Practice Gregg Zachary brings his skills as a journalist and historical researcher to better understand how people and institutions initiate technological change. Much of his recent work focuses on how African scholars and entrepreneurs are designing technologies for Africa.



Core Programs

CENTSS comprises eight core programs:

Informal Science Education (ISE)

CENTSS will partner with practitioners and scholars at science centers, museums, and other community education spaces to create cutting-edge science-meets-society content, train the next generation of ISE professionals, and explore the future role of ISE institutions in our society.

Formal Science Education

Spanning grades K-20, CENTSS will develop, package, and deploy ready-to-use curricula and programs aimed at changing the way students view the role of science in society.

Writing & Journalism

Designed to increase the public’s access to thoughtful content exploring science and society links, CENTSS writing programs will develop new generations of writers who can communicate the opportunities and challenges of science in 21st century society through a variety of communication genres and platforms.

Citizen Science

CENTSS will develop novel methods to involve lay citizens in local, national, and international science projects.

participatory Technology Assessment (pTA)

CENTSS will develop new tools to expand on current pTA capacities to not only bring the public voice to technological decision-making, but create opportunities for citizens to take action.

Community Engagement

Through novel methods of experiential learning, guided deliberation, and interactive experiences, CENTSS will move beyond the goal of public understanding of science to authentic public engagement with science regarding the role of emerging science in their homes, communities, and cities. Programs will also seek to reduce barriers between the multiple stakeholders involved in science and technology development and implementation.


To help increase interdisciplinary capacity in the sciences, engineering, and social scientists, CENTSS will develop and implement programs to provide mentorship and guidance to undergraduate and graduate students as they work to integrate disciplines in their research and practice.


Through partnerships with organizations and programs, such as the ASU Lincoln Center and the Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl among others, CENTSS will conduct research, and training in the ways in which science and technology have a profound impact on the world, and the ethical implications for those who shape S&T.