Monday, December 12, 2011

Who Defines Progress?

While researching science centers and museums, I read the following on under the heading "Who Defines Progress?" in the book Museums in Motion by Edward P Alexander and Mary Alexander. The question of defining progress also came up in my last Science and the Public class and it intrigues me.

In his book Museums of Influence, Kenneth Hudson closes his chapter on science, technology, and industry museums with this admonition: "In today's world, a museum of science and technology which does not encourage its visitors to think of the human and social consequences of new developments is acting in a singular irresponsible and out-of-date fashion. To worship Progress uncritically may suit the manufacturers and advertisers but it is not in the best interests of humanity." Environmental advocacy is not within the missions of most science and technology museums or centers, so how does an institution confront the impact of science and technology on the earth? What are the boundaries between representation of current environmental conditions and advocacy? And, who sets them?

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