Partner Highlight: Center for Nanotechnology in Society, Arizona State University

Deron Ash, Arizona State University

Center for Nanotechnology in Society, Arizona State University

In 2005, the National Science Foundation simultaneously announced funding both for NISE Net and the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University (CNS-ASU). Up to that point, the two proposed projects weren’t aware of each other, but after a few email exchanges and phone calls, Principal Investigators Larry Bell (NISE Net) and David Guston (CNS-ASU) initiated what would turn into many years of productive work together. CNS-ASU ideas have been incorporated into many NISE Net educational products, and so are integral to the public engagement work of many NISE Net partners.

CNS-ASU recently commemorated the ending of its NSF grant funding by bringing together over 100 faculty members, researchers, students and staff who have played a key role in the successful eleven year history of the Center. Participants representing nearly 50 institutions from 10 countries traveled to take part in the conference and festivities, including Larry Bell from the Museum of Science. Entitled "Advancing the Legacy of Anticipatory Governance," the event was designed both as a reflective retrospective of the impacts and outcomes of CNS-ASU as well as an exploration of the ways participants can, and already are, carrying on the legacy of the Center.

[Read a blog post by Larry Bell about his participation in this event]

A gallery area presented many of the various projects funded by CNS-ASU, including products made in collaboration with NISE Net. Among these were Nanotechnology and Society: A Practical Guide to Engaging Museum Visitors in Conversation, which summarizes the content of the Nano & Society workshops, the "tippy table" component of the Nano exhibition, and a number of NanoDays activities and posters that consider the societal dimensions of nanotechnologies.

Reflecting on the successful relationship, David Guston, Director of CNS-ASU and Founding Director of the newly established School for the Future of Innovation in Society, commented, "One cannot overstate the influence that our collaboration with NISE Net has had, not only on what we did in the Center for Nanotechnology in Society, but in how we are charting the course for the future of innovation in society at ASU." Larry Bell from NISE Net concurs, explaining that "The collaboration between NISE Net and CNS-ASU was transformative for both organizations. It was such a natural and mutually beneficial partnership, and produced a major breakthrough by bringing science and society content, and public engagement practices, into science and children’s museums everywhere." 

Although CNS-ASU’s federal funding will end come August, 2016, a number of "spinoffs" will continue to carry on the work of the Center, including the new CENTSS Center (Center for Engagement & Training in Science & Society) co-directed by Dr. Jamey Wetmore and Dr. Ira Bennett, who led CNS-ASU’s Outreach and Education efforts.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award Nos. 0531194 and 0937591.

Photos by Marissa Huth, ASU.