Schools as Field Sites

Part of our Community Science Lab model involves the active development of conceptualizing schools as field sites for community-based cultural evolution.

In evolutionary biology, ecology, and diverse disciplines across the human sciences, there is a long tradition of conceptualizing places of scientific interest as “field sites” for research and understanding. Sometimes, perhaps often, this has resulted in scientists studying human communities from the outside in.

In OpenEvo, we think about the concept of field sites differently. We work to advance a community-based model of field site research that is useful for all humans involved in school improvement and/or sustainable development. 

At every level of organization, individuals and groups can freely choose (or not) to think of themselves as a field site for understanding and improving valued outcomes.

Anytime we adopt a view of seeking to understand and improve the human systems around us, we can be said to be engaging a field site mindset.

Within this ecosystem, schools are likely needed to play a key role in the development of:

  • Healthy school cultures for valued outcomes
  • Scientifically adequate and adaptive understandings of self and society
  • Valued collaborations in understanding and improving the community and world beyond the school

For these reasons, thinking about schools as community-based field sites represents a novel interdisciplinary focus for participatory school improvement initiatives. 

Introduction for cultural evolution researchers

Through our Community Science Lab Model, we focus on the collaborative use of scientific methods to better understand and inform the cultural evolution of cooperation and well-being in our own communities. It is an approach to youth empowerment that works to bridge our evolutionary past with our preferred futures on issues that matter to students and their communities.

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