Indianapolis Residents’ Understanding of & Engagement with STEM & Urban River Ecology

January 25th, 2018 | EVALUATION

A mixed-methods series of surveys were used to explore public literacy related to environmental science and sustainability in Indianapolis. Surveys also explored predictive variables including environmental identity, nature affinity, use of nature places as learning opportunities, and motivations for visiting nature spaces. An online, citywide consumer survey was distributed alongside a parallel identical survey of employees at a major science-based corporation to assess variation in knowledge, attitudes, and learning behaviors. This science-based corporation provides substantial support to the restoration and improvement of the city’s waterways and cultural institutions. Through the company’s commitment to an annual day of service, staff remediate public and environmental spaces in the city. A third survey was undertaken at five public nature space locations adjacent to the five major waterways that traverse Indianapolis.

Results demonstrated that employees of the company that invests in environmental restoration as a day of service activity learn about important earth science topics that can help them be more informed decision-makers. These employees, however, are also less likely than general residents to use the city’s nature spaces and cultural centers for informal science learning. This result suggests that science literacy can be advanced when cultural institutions, nature spaces, and volunteer activities are situated as complementary vectors for learning and public discourse about science topics.



Team Members

John Fraser, Co-Principal Investigator, New Knowledge Organization Ltd.
Su-Jen Roberts, Project Staff, New Knowledge Organization Ltd.
Nezam Ardalan, Project Staff, New Knowledge Organization Ltd.


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1323117

Related URLs

Indianapolis as a Living Laboratory: Science Learning for Resilient Cities


Access and Inclusion: Urban
Audience: Adults | General Public | Scientists
Discipline: Ecology | forestry | agriculture | General STEM | Geoscience and geography
Resource Type: Audience Study | Evaluation Reports | Front-End
Environment Type: Community Outreach Programs | Park | Outdoor | Garden Programs | Public Programs