The National Science Foundation recently released a Dear Colleague letter inviting researchers to investigate the Science of Broadening Participation (SBP). This new proposal type is being offered jointly by the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate (SBE) and the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR). According to the letter, “in FY 2013, EHR and SBE will partner to support research that uses the theories, methods, and analytic techniques of the social, behavioral, economic, and educational sciences to better understand the barriers as well as the factors that enhance our ability to broaden participation in STEM.”
There are a wide variety of research questions that may be addressed in programs within both SBE and EHR. Of particular interest to informal educators may be the question of what aspects of informal learning environments and workplace culture “enhance the positive factors and moderate the negative factors impacting underrepresented minorities, women, and/or persons with disabilities?”
Proposals must be research-based in nature and be derived from established theory. However, according to the letter, “collaborations between social scientists, natural scientists, education researchers, and engineers on SBP research projects are welcomed.” See the Dear Colleague letter for more information about when, how, and where to apply, as well as additional guidelines for proposals.