GrowGreen at the Science Centre World Summit

The Science Centre World Summit was recently held in Tokyo, from 15–17 November. The Summit is a global meeting of professionals from science museums/centres and their networks, and takes place every three years. At the first Summit, in Belgium in 2014, the Mechelen Declaration was developed as an action plan for the international science museum/centre field, and its partners, to commit to concrete actions focusing public engagement on the development of a better world. In 2017, as a follow-on from the signing of the Paris Agreement and the agreement of the 17 Global Goals, the overall theme was on ‘connecting the world for a sustainable future’, with the launch of a re-energised Tokyo Protocol on the role and potential of science museums.

Henry McGhie, head of collections and curator of zoology at Manchester Museum, University of Manchester, took part in two sessions. The first presentation was part of a panel session organised by Future Earth, ‘Awareness to Action: global changes and future earth’ and was chaired by Asher Minns (Executive Director of the Tyndall Centre, based in Norwich), and explored the ‘ground’ between information and personal action, based on insights from cognitive behavioural therapy around the connection between thinking, feeling and doing.

The second presentation was part of a panel discussion themed around Sustainable Development Goal 17, ‘Partnerships for the Goals’. The speakers, from the UK, US, Brazil, Denmark, Japan, Zimbabwe and South Africa, joined to share perspectives on challenges and strategies for consolidating partnerships in different contexts and among different stakeholders. Henry spoke about ‘supporting personal action around environmental and social issues through partnerships’, and the role that museums can play in working with people to create a collective vision of a better future, and as a space that should focus on activities that people can do something about, whether locally or globally. He gave the example of how Manchester Museum has connected exhibitions and public engagement work with the shaping and action towards a variety of environmental policy agendas, through partnering locally and internationally.

He spoke about GrowGreen as a project that connects people’s lived experience, delivered at a local level but contributing towards a shared, global sustainability agenda, and the role that museums can play in negotiating such projects in an iterative way with different public groups, building trust, and promoting and supporting personal and collective action.


Henry McGhie
Head of Collections and Curator of Zoology
Manchester Museum, University of Manchester