Funding, Grants & Awards

Arizona State Wins Grant To Tackle Frankensteinian Questions

Arizona State University has received a continuation of a multi-million grant to help the public explore questions first posed in 1818 with the publication of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. In total the funding is expected to reach $3 million over the course of the next four years.

In time for the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's classic novel, the primary goal of the project is to create, distribute and study three activities sets that involve science-in-society themes.

Deliverables will include:

  • An online digital museum with active co-creation and curation of its content by the public;
  • Activity kits, "Frankenstein's Footlocker," for table-top programming with experiments, crafting, problem-solving and storytelling activities on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, robotics and bioengineering and their connections to social and ethical issues; and
  • A set of maker activities in "Frankenstein's Workbench," to encourage people to build their own monsters with 3D printing as well as sculpting, woodworking, drawing and painting.

The project will also involve production of professional development workshops and materials to help education professionals learn how to engage the public in conversations about science in society. The initiative is funded by NSF's Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL), a program that seeks to advance new approaches to STEM learning.

The initiative brings together three Arizona State groups to co-create the activities and resources: the Center for Science and the Imagination, the new School for the Future of Innovation in Society (SFIS) and the Schools of Engineering.

"No work of literature has done more to shape the way people imagine science and its moral and social consequences than Frankenstein," said Dave Guston, director of SFIS and a co-investigator on the project. "The novel, along with its many adaptations in film, theatre and art, continues to influence the way we confront new technologies, imagine the motivations and ethical struggles of scientists and weigh the benefits of innovation with its unforeseen pitfalls."

The project is expected to encompass more than 50 institutional partners, including museums, science centers, libraries and archives.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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