About Us

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VILLAGE SCIENCE works to discover effective, enduring approaches that can improve access to information, increase the economic power of communities, and build trust and mutual respect between people in the developed and developing worlds.

We believe that a Participatory Design Process is essential. We create research initiatives to build data and to develop projects that local communities are willing to support and actively engage with. We then work on behalf of these communities to assemble a global network of partners and stakeholders who can help them build it.

VILLAGE SCIENCE also provides logistical support and technical assistance to other organizations. We’ve developed frameworks and workflows that improve cross-disciplinary collaboration, logistical planning, and information technology support. We also produce workshops, skill-building seminars, and conferences designed to build skills and lasting engagement between communities.

We are recognized as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. You can view a copy of our IRS 501(c)(3) ruling here.

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Justin Spelman, a former satellite engineer, formed VILLAGE SCIENCE in 2009 to develop culturally relevant science activities with students and teachers in Laos. As a volunteer teacher, Spelman saw students memorizing chemistry equations without understanding them – and met university students majoring in Physics who didn’t even recognize a photo of Albert Einstein.

“More that just a student’s lack of access to information”, Spelman says, “the education I encountered was an outdated system of rote memorization based on Western pedagogy – it just isn’t relevant to most villagers’ lives.” Through workshops and dialogues with villagers, Spelman realized that co-developed education programs which were linked to economic development could help people lift themselves out of poverty.

These early efforts guided the evolution of the VILLAGE SCIENCE ethos:

  • The existing aid model of outsiders coming into a community and telling people how they should live is ineffective and inappropriate;
  • To solve deeply entrenched problems of poverty or lack of access to education, we must connect people and groups across disciplines and regions to projects designed in partnership with the communities they serve.
  • Effective projects are “constellational”: They engage communities as long-term partners across multiple dimensions to educate and to provide economic growth.

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We believe that people in developing countries can benefit from the expertise and resources that are so hard to find from their friends in developed countries, and likewise, people in developed countries can benefit from ideas of sustainable ways of living that comes naturally to people living in developing countries. The basis of sustainable and self-sufficient communities of the future is built upon multilateral sharing of information and understanding among people in developed and developing economies.

VILLAGE SCIENCE has made a core commitment to promoting respectful, mutually beneficial exchanges among all parties – and every one of our programs will be designed to reflect this deep and abiding commitment.

Get Involved!

Want to help? Visit our Get Involved page to see if your skills match our needs!