What is astrosociology?

High school students studying at the Barboza Space Center are excploring careers as astrosociologists.   We invite you to explore this exciting field of study.  www.astrosocialogy.org.

What is ARI’s Mission?

Mission Statement 

The main purpose of the Astrosociology Research Institute (ARI) is to develop astrosociology as a multidisciplinary academic field consisting of the social and behavioral sciences, humanities, and the arts.  Astrosociology is defined as the study of astrosocial phenomena (i.e., social, cultural, and behavioral patterns related to outer space). ARI’s development of astrosociology serves to unite interested theoreticians, researchers, scholars, and STUDENTS together so they may more easily collaborate on space issues from a broad social-scientific perspective; that is, a concentration on the human dimension.

This effort includes, but is not limited to, the recognition of astrosociology as a legitimate field by the social science community and the space/aerospace community (including space agencies such as NASA and ESA). ARI is dedicated to assisting anyone interested in the development of astrosociology including, but not limited to, faculty, students, social science scholars and researchers, space scientists and engineers, and space advocates. Beyond individuals, ARI works with organizations of various types that support the development of astrosociology in a variety of different ways.

Related Practical Objectives

ARI seeks to carry out its mission in a number of different ways that are instituted simultaneously as well as added later to the program agenda as funding and relationships with other individuals and entities allow in the future.

World-Class Research and Theory BuildingARI Research Associates, along with ARI staff, members, supporters, sponsors, and volunteers, will continue their first-rate efforts already begun that further the astrosociology knowledge base and improve humanity’s understanding of its presence in space and the impact of space on societies on Earth.  The development of this field requires conducting pioneering research and the construction of new theoretical constructs.

ConferencesARI seeks to demonstrate the relevance of astrosociology and make significant contributions to space research involving human beings at all levels of social analysis (i.e., micro, meso, macro, global, and interplanetary) at conferences of different types.  It is important for ARI to take advantage of such forums in order to inject the human dimension into traditional approaches such as engineering.  Attempts to understand human groups and societies in space environments, as well as the impact of space on terrestrial societies, will become vital as the twenty-first century unfolds.  ARI will continue to send out Calls for Papers and endeavor to create new relationships with the hosting professional organizations.

Presence in Academia A core component of ARI’s mission involves various types of efforts aimed at establishing astrosociology in academia by creating courses in existing departments and programs, and at some point in the future as part of independent dedicated departments and programs.  Astrosociology cannot remain relegated to conferences alone, but must move into traditional academic settings.  Many of the projects and other efforts that arise in the future will dedicate themselves to this vital objective.

Student SupportAs funding allows, ARI assists students to study astrosociology, and excel in school while doing so.  Forms of assistance include providing scholarships, partial defrayment of expenses associated with conference attendance/participation, internships at ARI (online and eventually at ARI’s physical site), and access to academic resources.

Liaison Program — ARI serves to promote students to pursue astrosociology for term papers, theses, and dissertations through formal contact with their faculty members and/or advisors in order to demonstrate to everyone involved of the legitimacy of astrosociology as an emerging academic field.  Students have somewhere to turn if faculty question their decisions to pursue a topic related to astrosociology.

Faculty Support — ARI assists faculty members and independent scholars interested in astrosociology by providing resources to utilize in their research efforts.  ARI serves as a contact from whom their colleagues and superiors can request information about astrosociology and the efforts of ARI.  ARI encourages faculty to pursue astrosociological research.

World-Class Library Online and physical manifestations of the ARI Library will provide students and scholars with access to a growing catalog of astrosociological materials useful to their research.  The Virtual Library already exists at this website — continued from the site called Astrosociology.com — and serves to provide all interested parties, from veteran astrosociologists to newcomers to the field, with an ever-growing number of references for use in their work.

Future Projects ARI plans to institute a wide-ranging array of projects to assist interested individuals and organizations in contributing to the development of astrosociology.  ARI will provide research opportunities and supportive programs for organizations in addition to the members, supporters, and others with whom ARI forms a relationship.  Thus, ARI seeks to work with individuals and organizations who wish to assist in furthering ARI’s mission in a variety of ways.  Possibilities of collaborative relationships include conference sponsorships, curriculum development, and work on individual research projects.

Programs relating to the following areas remain under consideration for the future:
Annual astrosociology conference
• Online astrosociology course(s)

• Astrosociology research affiliations

How Do I Become an Astrosociologist?

When we state that ARI seeks to develop astrosociology as a legitimate field, we refer to the process in which we are working to move the subject matter that falls under its purview into academic programs and departments.  This means that a big part of ARI’s mission involves assisting students who decide they wish to pursue astrosociology in their academic careers. ARI seeks to bring space into the social science classroom (and any classroom receptive to it) in the form of astrosociology.  We believe that a considerable number of social science students will gravitate toward astrosociology once academic organizations make it available.

This mission also involves providing assistance to faculty and independent scholars who wish to pursue astrosociology or include it in some way in their existing research.  “Astrosociological” research has been taking place throughout the space age on a limited, individualistic basis.  ARI now seeks to create a viable astrosociological community in which proponents of this field can interact in various ways.


What do I need to know about portfolio and authentic assessement?


What is a Portfolio?

Why use Portfolios?

How do you Create a Portfolio Assignment?

Can I do Portfolios Without all the Fuss?


Portfolio: A collection of a student’s work specifically selected to tell a particular story about the student


What is a Portfolio?

Note: My focus will be on portfolios of student work rather than teacher portfolios or other types.

Student portfolios take many forms, as discussed below, so it is not easy to describe them. A portfolio is not the pile of student work that accumulates over a semester or year. Rather, a portfolio contains a purposefully selected subset of student work. “Purposefully” selecting student work means deciding what type of story you want the portfolio to tell. For example, do you want it to highlight or celebrate the progress a student has made? Then, the portfolio might contain samples of earlier and later work, often with the student commenting upon or assessing the growth. Do you want the portfolio to capture the process of learning and growth? Then, the student and/or teacher might select items that illustrate the development of one or more skills with reflection upon the process that led to that development. Or, do you want the portfolio to showcase the final products or best work of a student? In that case, the portfolio would likely contain samples that best exemplify the student’s current ability to apply relevant knowledge and skills. All decisions about a portfolio assignment begin with the type of story or purpose for the portfolio. The particular purpose(s) served, the number and type of items included, the process for selecting the items to be included, how and whether students respond to the items selected, and other decisions vary from portfolio to portfolio and serve to define what each portfolio looks like. I will describe many of the purposes and characteristics in the sections below.

Are Portfolios Authentic Assessments?top

Some suggest that portfolios are not really assessments at all because they are just collections of previously completed assessments. But, if we consider assessing as gathering of information about someone or something for a purpose, then a portfolio is a type of assessment. Sometimes the portfolio is also evaluated or graded, but that is not necessary to be considered an assessment.

Are portfolios authentic assessments? Student portfolios have most commonly been associated with collections of artwork and, to a lesser extent, collections of writing. Students in these disciplines are performing authentic tasks which capture meaningful application of knowledge and skills. Their portfolios often tell compelling stories of the growth of the students’ talents and showcase their skills through a collection of authentic performances. Educators are expanding this story-telling to other disciplines such as physical education, mathematics and the social sciences to capture the variety of demonstrations of meaningful application from students within these disciplines.

Furthermore, in the more thoughtful portfolio assignments, students are asked to reflect on their work, to engage in self-assessment and goal-setting. Those are two of the most authentic skills students need to develop to successfully manage in the real world. Research has found that students in classes that emphasize improvement, progress, effort and the process of learning rather than grades and normative performance are more likely to use a variety of learning strategies and have a more positive attitude toward learning. Yet in education we have shortchanged the processof learning in favor of the products of learning. Students are not regularly asked to examine how they succeeded or failed or improved on a task or to set goals for future work; the final product and evaluation of it receives the bulk of the attention in many classrooms. Consequently, students are not developing the metacognitive skills that will enable them to reflect upon and make adjustments in their learning in school and beyond.

Portfolios provide an excellent vehicle for consideration of process and the development of related skills. So, portfolios are frequently included with other types of authentic assessments because they move away from telling a student’s story though test scores and, instead, focus on a meaningful collection of student performance and meaningful reflection and evaluation of that work.


Why use Portfolios?top

The previous section identifies several valuable goals that make portfolios attractive in education. The sections that follow emphasize that identifying specific goals or purposes for assigning a portfolio is the first and most critical step in creating such an assignment. Just as identifying a standard guides the rest of the steps of developing an authentic assessment, identifying the purpose(s) for a portfolio influences all the other decisions involved in producing a portfolio assignment. I will list several of the most common purposes here, and then I will elaborate on how each purpose affects the other decisions in the section below.


Why might you use a portfolio assignment? Portfolios typically are created for one of the following three purposes: to show growth, to showcase current abilities, and to evaluate cumulative achievement. Some examples of such purposes include

1. Growth Portfolios

a. to show growth or change over time

b. to help develop process skills such as self-evaluation and goal-setting

c. to identify strengths and weaknesses

d. to track the development of one more products/performances

2. Showcase Portfolios

a. to showcase end-of-year/semester accomplishments

b. to prepare a sample of best work for employment or college admission

c. to showcase student perceptions of favorite, best or most important work

d. to communicate a student’s current aptitudes to future teachers

3. Evaluation Portfolios

a. to document achievement for grading purposes

b. to document progress towards standards

c. to place students appropriately

The growth portfolio emphasizes the process of learning whereas the showcase portfolio emphasizes the products of learning. Of course, a portfolio may tell more than one story, including more than one category above. For example, a showcase portfolio might also be used for evaluation purposes, and a growth portfolio might also showcase “final” performances or products. What is critical is that the purpose(s) is clear throughout the process to student, teacher and any other pertinent audience. To elaborate on how the purpose affects the portfolio assignment let me answer the question…


How do you Create a Portfolio Assignment?top

I think of most tasks as problems to be solved, or questions to be answered. So, I find it useful to approach how to do something by thinking of it as a series of questions to be answered. Thus, I will attempt to offer a possible answer to the question above by answering a series of questions that need to be addressed when considering the design of a portfolio assignment. Those questions are:

1. Purpose: What is the purpose(s) of the portfolio?

2. Audience: For what audience(s) will the portfolio be created?

3. Content: What samples of student work will be included?

4. Process: What processes (e.g., selection of work to be included, reflection on work, conferencing) will be engaged in during the development of the portfolio?

5. Management: How will time and materials be managed in the development of the portfolio?

6. Communication: How and when will the portfolio be shared with pertinent audiences?

7. Evaluation: If the portfolio is to be used for evaluation, when and how should it be evaluated?


Purpose: What is the purpose(s) of the portfolio?

As mentioned above, before you can design the portfolio assignment and before your students can begin constructing their portfolios you and your students need to be clear about the story the portfolio will be telling. Certainly, you should not assign a portfolio unless you have a compelling reason to do so. Portfolios take work to create, manage and assess. They can easily feel like busywork and a burden to you and your students if they just become folders filled with student papers. You and your students need to believe that the selection of and reflection upon their work serves one or more meaningful purposes.

Audience: For what audience(s) will the portfolio be created?top

Selecting relevant audiences for a portfolio goes hand-in-hand with identifying your purposes. Who should see the evidence of a student’s growth? The student, teacher and parents are good audiences to follow the story of a student’s progress on a certain project or in the development of certain skills. Who should see a student’s best or final work? Again, the student, teacher and parents might be good audiences for such a collection, but other natural audiences come to mind such as class or schoolmates, external audiences such as employers or colleges, the local community or school board. As the teacher, you can dictate what audiences will be considered or you can let students have some choice in the decision.

Just as the purposes for the portfolio should guide the development of it, the selection of audiences should shape its construction. For example, for audiences outside the classroom it is helpful to include a cover page or table of contents that helps someone unfamiliar with the assignment to navigate through the portfolio and provide context for what is found inside. Students need to keep their audiences in mind as they proceed through each step of developing their portfolios. A good method for checking whether a portfolio serves the anticipated audiences is to imagine different members of those audiences viewing the portfolio. Can each of them tell why you created the portfolio? Are they able to make sense of the story you wanted to tell them? Can they navigate around and through the portfolio? Do they know why you included what you did? Have you used language suitable for those audiences?

Content: What samples of student work will be included?

As you can imagine, the answer to the question of content is dependent on the answers to the questions of purpose and audience. What should be included? Well, what story do you want to tell? Before I consider what types of items might be appropriate for different purposes, let me make a more general point. First, hypothetically, there is no limit as to what can be included in a portfolio. Paper products such as essays, homework, letters, projects, etc. are most common. But more and more other types of media are being included in portfolios. Audio and videotapes, cd-roms, two- and three-dimensional pieces of art, posters and anything else that can reflect the purposes identified can be included. Some schools are putting all the artifacts onto a cd-rom by videotaping performances, scanning paper products, and digitizing audio. All of those files are then copied onto a student’s cd-rom for a semester or a year or to follow the student across grades as a cumulative record. Realistically, you have to decide what is manageable. But if the most meaningful evidence of the portfolio’s goals cannot be captured on paper, then you may consider including other types of media.top

Obviously, there are a considerable number and variety of types of student work that can be selected as samples for a portfolio. Using the purposes given above for each type of portfolio, I have listed just a few such possible samples of work in the following tables that could be included in each type of portfolio.

Growth Portfolios: What samples might be included?
Some possible inclusions
a. to show growth or change over time
  • early and later pieces of work
  • early and later tests/scores
  • rough drafts and final drafts
  • reflections on growth
  • goal-setting sheets
  • reflections on progress toward goal(s)
b. to help develop process skills
  • samples which reflect growth of process skills
  • self-reflection sheets accompanying samples of work
  • reflection sheets from teacher or peer
  • identification of strengths/weaknesses
  • goal-setting sheets
  • reflections on progress towards goal(s)
  • see more detail below under Process below
c. to identify strengths/weaknesses
  • samples of work reflecting specifically identified strengths and weaknesses
  • reflections on strengths and weaknesses of samples
  • goal-setting sheets
  • reflection on progress towards goal(s)
d. to track development of one or more products or performances
  • obviously, drafts of the specific product or performance to be tracked
  • self-reflections on drafts
  • reflection sheets from teacher or peer




Showcase Portfolios: What samples might be included?
Some possible inclusions
a. to showcase end-of-year/semester accomplishments
  • samples of best work
  • samples of earlier and later work to document progress
  • final tests or scores
  • discussion of growth over semester/year
  • awards or other recognition
  • teacher or peer comments
b. to prepare a sample of best work for employment or college admission
  • cover letter
  • sample of work
  • reflection on process of creating sample of work
  • reflection on growth
  • teacher or peer comments
  • description of knowledge/skills work indicates
c. to showcase student perceptions of favorite, best or most important
  • samples of student’s favorite, best or most important work
  • drafts of that work to illustrate path taken to its final form
  • commentary on strengths/weaknesses of work
  • reflection on why it is favorite, best or most important
  • reflection on what has been learned from work
  • teacher or peer comments
d. to communicate a student’s current aptitude
  • representative sample of current work
  • match of work with standards accomplished
  • self-reflection on current aptitudes
  • teacher reflection on student’s aptitudes
  • identification of future goals




Evaluation Portfolios: What samples might be included?
Some possible inclusions
a. to document achievement for grading
  • samples of representative work in each subject/unit/topic to be graded
  • samples of work documenting level of achievement on course/grade-level goals/standards/objectives
  • tests/scores
  • rubrics/criteria used for evaluation of work (when applied)
  • self-reflection on how well samples indicate attainment ofcourse/grade-level goals/standards/objectives
  • teacher reflection of attainment of goals/standards
  • identification of strengths/weaknesses
b. to document progress towards standards
  • list of applicable goals and standards
  • representative samples of work aligned with respective goals/standards
  • rubrics/criteria used for evaluation of work
  • self-reflection on how well samples indicate attainment ofcourse/grade-level goals/standards/objectives
  • teacher reflection of attainment of goals/standards
  • analysis or evidence of progress made toward standards over course of semester/year
c. to place students appropriately
  • representative samples of current work
  • representative samples of earlier work to indicate rate of progress
  • classroom tests/scores
  • external tests/evaluations
  • match of work with standards accomplished
  • self-reflection on current aptitudes
  • teacher reflection on student’s aptitudes
  • parent reflection on student’s aptitudes
  • other professionals’ reflections on student’s aptitudes

Other Content

In addition to samples of student work and reflection upon that work, a portfolio might also include a table of contents or a cover letter (both typically composed by the student) to aid a reader in making sense of the purposes, processes and contents of the portfolio. This can be particularly useful if the portfolio is to be shared with external audiences unfamiliar with the coursework such as parents, other educators and community members.top


Process: What processes will be engaged in during the development of the portfolio?

One of the greatest attributes of the portfolio is its potential for focusing on the processes of learning. Too often in education we emphasize the products students create or the outcomes they achieve. But we do not give sufficient attention to the processes required to create those products or outcomes, the processes involved in self-diagnosis and self-improvement, or the metacognitive processes of thinking. As a result, the products or outcomes are not as good as we or the students would like because they are often unsure how to get started, how to self-diagnose or self-correct or how to determine when a piece of work is “finished.”

Although a variety of processes can be developed or explored through portfolios, I will focus on three of the most common:

  • selection of contents of the portfolio;
  • reflection on the samples of work and processes;
  • conferencing about the contents and processes.


    Selection of Contents

Once again, identifying the purpose(s) for the portfolio should drive the selection process. As listed in the tables above, different samples of student work will likely be selected for different purposes. Additionally, how samples are selected might also differ depending on the purpose. For example, for an evaluation portfolio, the teacher might decide which samples need to be included to evaluate student progress. On the other hand, including the student in the decision-making process of determining appropriate types of samples for inclusion might be more critical for a growth portfolio to promote meaningful reflection. Finally, a showcase portfolio might be designed to include significant input from the student on which samples best highlight achievement and progress, or the teacher might primarily make those decisions.

Furthermore, audiences beyond the teacher and student might have input into the content of the porfolio, from team or department members, principals and district committees to external agencies to parents and community members. External audiences are most likely to play a role for evaluation portfolios. However, it is important to remember there are no hard rules about portfolios. Anything can be included in a portfolio. Anyone can be involved in the processes of selection, reflection and evaluation of a portfolio. Flexibility applies to portfolios as it does to any authentic assessment. That is, you should be true to your purpose(s), but you should feel no constraints on how you meet them with a portfolio assignment.top

How might the selection take place?

What I will describe below are just a few of the many possible avenues for selecting which samples will be included in a portfolio. But these examples should give you a good sense of some of the choices and some of the decisions involved.


  • when a sample of work is completed — at the point a piece of work is ready to be turned in (or once the work has been returned by the teacher) the student or teacher identifies that work for inclusion in the portfolio;
  • at periodic intervals — instead of selecting samples when they are completed, the samples can be stored so that selection might occur every two (three, six or nine) weeks or once (twice or three times) every quarter (trimester or semester);
  • at the end of the … unit, quarter, semester, year, etc. 

    By whom?

  • by the student — students are the most common selectors, particularly for portfolios that ask them to reflect on the work selected. Which work students select depends on the criteria used to choose each piece (see below).
  • by the teacher — teachers may be the selector, particularly when identifying best pieces of work to showcase a student’s strengths or accomplishments.
  • by the student and teacher — sometimes portfolio selection is a joint process involving conversation and collaboration.
  • by peers — a student might be assigned a “portfolio partner” or “portfolio buddy” who assists the student in selecting appropriate pieces of work often as part of a joint process involving conversation and collaboration. A peer might also provide some reflection on a piece of work to be included in the portfolio.
  • by parents — parents might also be asked to select a piece or two for inclusion that they particularly found impressive, surprising, reflective of improvement, etc.top

    Based on what criteria?

  • best work — selection for showcase portfolios will typically focus on samples of work that illustrate students’ best performance in designated areas or the culmination of progress made
  • evidence of growth — selection for growth portfolios will focus on identifying samples of work and work processes (e.g., drafts, notes) that best capture progress shown on designated tasks, processes or acquisition of knowledge and skills. For example, students might be asked to choose
    • samples of earlier and later work highlighting some skill or content area
    • samples of rough drafts and final drafts
    • work that traces the development of a particular product or performance
    • samples of work reflecting specifically identified strengths and weaknesses
  • evidence of achievement — particularly for showcase and evaluation portfolios, selection might focus on samples of work that illustrate current levels of competence in designated areas or particular exemplars of quality work
  • evidence of standards met — similarly, selection could focus on samples of work that illustrate how successfully students have met certain standards
  • favorite/most important piece — to help develop recognition of the value of the work completed and to foster pride in that work, selection might focus on samples to which students or parents or others find a connection or with which they are particularly enamored
  • one or more of the above — a portfolio can include samples of work for multiple reasons and, thus, more than one of the above criteria (or others) could be used for selecting samples to be included


Reflection on Samples of Work

Many educators who work with portfolios consider the reflection component the most critical element of a good portfolio. Simply selecting samples of work as described above can produce meaningful stories about students, and others can benefit from “reading” these stories. But the students themselves are missing significant benefits of the portfolio process if they are not asked to reflect upon the quality and growth of their work. As Paulson, Paulson and Meyer (1991) stated, “The portfolio is something that is done by the student, not to the student.” Most importantly, it is something done for the student. The student needs to be directly involved in each phase of the portfolio development to learn the most from it, and the reflection phase holds the most promise for promoting student growth.

In the reflection phase students are typically asked to

  • comment on why specific samples were selected or
  • comment on what they liked and did not like in the samples or
  • comment on or identify the processes involved in developing specific products or performances or
  • describe and point to examples of how specific skills or knowledge improved (or did not) or
  • identify strengths and weaknesses in samples of work or
  • set goals for themselves corresponding to the strengths and weaknesses or
  • identify strategies for reaching those goals or
  • assess their past and current self-efficacy for a task or skill or
  • complete a checklist or survey about their work or
  • some combination of the aboveReflection sheets

Probably the most common portfolio reflection task is the completion of a sheet to be attached to the sample (or samples) of work which the reflection is addressing. The possibilities for reflection questions or prompts are endless, but some examples I have seen includetop

Selection questions/prompts

  • Why did you select this piece?
  • Why should this sample be included in your portfolio?
  • How does this sample meet the criteria for selection for your portfolio?
  • I chose this piece because ….

Growth questions/prompts

  • What are the strengths of this work? Weaknesses?
  • What would you work on more if you had additional time?
  • How has your ______ (e.g., writing) changed since last year?
  • What do you know about ______ (e.g., the scientific method) that you did not know at the beginning of the year (or semester, etc.)?
  • Looking at (or thinking about) an earlier piece of similar work, how does this new piece of work compare? How is it better or worse? Where can you see progress or improvement?
  • How did you get “stuck” working on this task? How did you get “unstuck”?
  • One skill I could not perform very well but now I can is ….
  • From reviewing this piece I learned ….

Goal-setting questions/prompts

  • What is one thing you can improve upon in this piece?
  • What is a realistic goal for the end of the quarter (semester, year)?
  • What is one way you will try to improve your ____ (e.g., writing)?
  • One thing I still need to work on is ….
  • I will work toward my goal by ….

Evaluation questions/prompts

  • If you were a teacher and grading your work, what grade would you give it and why?
  • Using the appropriate rubric, give yourself a score and justify it with specific traits from the rubric.
  • What do you like or not like about this piece of work?
  • I like this piece of work because ….

Effort questions/prompts

  • How much time did you spend on this product/performance?
  • The work would have been better if I had spent more time on ….
  • I am pleased that I put significant effort into ….

Overall portfolio questions/prompts

  • What would you like your _____ (e.g., parents) to know about or see in your portfolio?
  • What does the portfolio as a whole reveal about you as a learner (writer, thinker, etc.)?
  • A feature of this portfolio I particularly like is ….
  • In this portfolio I see evidence of ….

As mentioned above, students (or others) can respond to such questions or prompts when a piece of work is completed, while a work is in progress or at periodic intervals after the work has been collected. Furthermore, these questions or prompts can be answered by the student, the teacher, parents, peers or anyone else in any combination that best serves the purposes of the portfolio.top

Other reflection methods

In addition to reflection sheets, teachers have devised a myriad of means of inducing reflection from students and others about the collection of work included in the portfolio. For example, those engaging in reflection can

  • write a letter to a specific audience about the story the portfolio communicates
  • write a “biography” of a piece of work tracing its development and the learning that resulted
  • write periodic journal entries about the progress of the portfolio
  • compose an imaginary new “chapter” that picks up where the story of the portfolio leaves off
  • orally share reflections on any of the above questions/promptsReflection as a process skill

Good skill development requires four steps:

  • Instruction and modeling of the skill;
  • Practice of the skill;
  • Feedback on one’s practice;
  • Reflection on the practice and feedback.

Reflection itself is a skill that enhances the process of skill development and virtually all learning in innumerable settings. Those of us who are educators, for example, need to continually reflect upon what is working or not working in our teaching, how we can improve what we are doing, how we can help our students make connections to what they are learning, and much, much more. Thus, it is critical for students to learn to effectively reflect upon their learning and growth.top

As a skill, reflection is not something that can be mastered in one or two attempts. Developing good reflective skills requires instruction and modeling, lots of practice, feedback and reflection. As many of you have probably encountered, when students are first asked to respond to prompts such as “I selected this piece because…” they may respond with “I think it is nice.” Okay, that’s a start. But we would like them to elaborate on that response. The fact that they did not initially elaborate is probably not just a result of resistance or reluctance. Students need to learn how to respond to such prompts. They need to learn how to effectively identify strengths and weaknesses, to set realistic goals for themselves and their work, and to develop meaningful strategies to address those goals. Students often have become dependent upon adults, particularly teachers, to evaluate their work. They need to learn self-assessment.

So, the reflection phase of the portfolio process should be ongoing throughout the portfolio development. Students need to engage in multiple reflective activities. Those instances of reflection become particularly focused if goal-setting is part of their reflection. Just as instruction and assessment are more appropriately targeted if they are tied to specific standards or goals, student identification of and reflection upon strengths and weaknesses, examples of progress, and strategies for improvement will be more meaningful and purposeful if they are directed toward specific goals, particularly self-chosen goals.

Once opportunities for reflection (practice) take place, feedback to and further reflection upon student observations can be provided by conversations with others. Conferencing is one tool to promote such feedback and reflection.


Conferencing on Student Work and Processes

With 20 or 30 or more students in a classroom, one-on-one conversations between the teacher and student are difficult to regularly arrange. That is unfortunate because the give and take of face-to-face interaction can provide the teacher with valuable information about the student’s thinking and progress and provide the student with meaningful feedback. Such feedback is also more likely to be processed by the student than comments written on paper.

Conferencing typically takes several forms:

  • teacher/student — sometimes teachers are able to informally meet with a few students, one at a time, as the other students work on some task in class. Other times, teachers use class time to schedule one-on-one conferences during “conference days.” Some teachers are able to schedule conferences outside of class time. Typically such conferences take only a few minutes, but they give the teacher and the student time to recap progress, ask questions, and consider suggestions or strategies for improvement.
  • teacher/small group — other teachers, often in composition classes, meet with a few students at a time to discuss issues and questions that are raised, sharing common problems and reflections across students.
  • student/student — to conserve time as well as to give students the opportunity to learn how to provide feedback along with receiving it, teachers sometimes structure peer-to-peer conferencing. The focus might be teacher-directed (e.g., “share with each other a sample of work you recently selected for your portfolio”) or student-directed (e.g., students use the time to get feedback on some work for a purpose they determine).



Management: How will time and materials be managed in the development of the portfolio?

As appealing as the process of students developing a portfolio can be, the physical and time constraints of such a process can be daunting. Where do you keep all the stuff? How do you keep track of it? Who gets access to it and when? Should you manage paper or create an electronic portfolio? Does some work get sent home before it is put in the portfolio? Will it come back? When will you find the time for students to participate, to reflect, to conference? What about students who join your class in the middle of the semester or year?

There is one answer to all these questions that can make the task less daunting: start small! That is good advice for many endeavors, but particularly for portfolios because there are so many factors to consider, develop and manage over a long period of time. In the final section of this chapter (Can I do portfolios without all the fuss?) I will elaborate on how you can get your feet wet with portfolios and avoid drowning in the many decisions described below.

How you answer the many management questions below depends, in part, on how you answered earlier questions about your purpose, audience, content and process. Return to those answers to help you address the following decisions:

Management Decisions
Possible Solutions
Should the portfolio building process wait until the end or should it occur as you go?
  • The easiest solution is to collect work samples along the way but save the selection and reflection until the end, keeping selection simple and limiting the amount of reflection.
  • The more involved (and more common) approach is for participants to periodically make selections and to engage in reflection throughout the process. This gives the student time to respond to identified weaknesses and to address goals set.
Will the portfolios be composed of paper or stored electronically (or both)?
  • Paper Portfolio: As you know, the most common form of portfolios is a collection of paper products such as essays, problem sets, journal entries, posters, etc. Most products produced in classrooms are still in paper form, so it makes sense to find ways to collect, select from and reflect upon these items.
  • Hybrid Portfolio: Other forms of products are increasingly available, however, so teachers are adding videotapes, audiotapes, 3-D models, artwork and more to the containers holding the paper products.
  • Electronic Portfolio: Since many of the paper products are now first created in an electronic format, it makes sense to consider keeping some samples of work in that format. Storage is much easier and portability is significantly increased. Additionally, as it becomes easier to digitize almost any media it is possible to add audio and video examples of student work to the electronic portfolio. A considerable amount of work can be burned to a CD or DVD or displayed on a website. An electronic compilation can be shared with a larger audience and more easily follow a student to other grades, teachers and schools. Copies can be made and kept.
Where will the work samples and reflections be kept? Obviously, the answer to this question depends on your answer to the previous question about storage format. The possible solutions I describe below will assume that you have chosen an option that includes at least some paper products.

  • A common model for portfolio maintenance is to have two folders for each student — a working folder and a portfolio folder. As work samples are produced they are stored in the working folder. Students (or other selectors) would periodically review the working folder to select certain pieces to be included in the portfolio folder. Usually reflection accompanies the selection process. For example, a reflection sheet may be attached to each piece before it is placed in the portfolio.
  • In addition to manilla or hanging folders, portfolio contents have also been stored in pizza or laundry detergent boxes, cabinets, binders and accordian folders (Rolheiser, Bower & Stevahn, 2000).
  • For older students, some teachers have the students keep the work samples. Then they are periodically asked to select from and reflect upon the work. Students might only keep the working folders while the teacher manages the portfolio folders.
  • As a parent, I know I also would like to look at my child’s work before the end of the semester or year. So, some teachers send work home in carefully structured folders. One side of a two-pocket folder might be labeled “keep at home” while the other side might be labeled “return to school.” The work likely to end up in the portfolio would be sent home in the “return to school” pocket.
Who will be responsible for saving/storing them?
  • Typically the teacher keep the contents of the portfolio as they are usually stored in the classroom.
  • Older students (and sometimes younger ones) are also given the responsibility of managing their portfolios in the classroom, making sure all samples make it into the appropriate folders/containers, remain there, are put back when removed, and are kept neatly organized.
  • As mentioned above, older students sometimes are required to keep track of their work outside the classroom, bringing it to class on certain days for reflection and other tasks.
  • For electronic portfolios, it usually depends on teacher preference and whether or not students have access to storage space on the network or can save samples locally, or burn them to CDs or DVD, or add them to websites.
Who will have access to it, and when? Who? Again, that depends on the purposes for the portfolio.

  • Usually the teacher and student will have access to the working folder or the final samples.
  • But, for some types of showcase portfolios, only the teacher might have access because she is constructing the portfolio about the student.
  • For older students, the teacher might only have limited access as the student controls the portfolio’s development.
  • Parents might have access and input as samples of work are sent home.
  • Other educators might also have access to final portfolios for larger evaluative purposes.


  • Typically, students and teachers contribute samples to a working folder as they are created. Access to a portfolio folder is gained on a more regular schedule as times for selection and reflection are scheduled.
  • Parents or other educators might have access at certain intervals depending on the purpose of the portfolio and the process that has been chosen.
How will portfolio progress be tracked?
  • A checklist sheet is sometimes attached to the front of a folder so that the teacher or the student can keep track of when and which samples have been added, which have been removed (temporarily or permanently), when reflections have been completed, when conferences have taken place, and whether or not any other requirements have been completed.
  • The teacher might just keep a schedule of when selections, reflections or conferences are to take place.
  • Older students might be required to keep track of the process to make sure all requirements are met.
What will the final product look like? Once again, this depends on the purposes and audiences for the portfolio, as well as the type of contents to be included.

  • Showcase portfolios will typically have a more formal and polished presentation. A cover letter or introduction along with a table of contents might be included to provide context for a potentially wide range of readers, and to give the student or teacher a chance to more fully flesh out the student’s story.
  • Growth or evaluation portfolios might have a less formal presentation, unless the evaluation is part of a high stakes assessment. If the student and teacher are the primary readers, less context is needed. However, if parents are the primary or a significant intended audience, more explanation or context will be needed.
What if students join your class in the middle of the process?
  • Obviously, one advantage of choosing to build the portfolio at the end of a period of time rather than build it along the way (see the first question) is that transient students can still easily participate. They have less work to consider, but they can still engage in the selection and reflection process.
  • If selection and reflection occur as work is being produced, the new student can simply join the process in progress. Some adaptation will likely be necessary, but the student can still demonstrate growth or competence over a shorter period of time.
  • If the portfolio is also to be evaluated, further adjustment will need to be made.


Communication: How and when will the portfolio be shared with pertinent audiences?

Why share the portfolio?

By the nature of the purposes of portfolios — to show growth, to showcase excellence — portfolios are meant to be shared. The samples, reflections and other contents allow or invite others to observe and celebrate students’ progress and accomplishments. A portfolio should tell a story, and that story should be told.

Students should primarily be the ones telling their stories. As students reflect on the balance of their work over some period of time, there is often a great sense of pride at the growth and the accomplishment. By telling their own stories students can take ownership of the process that led to the growth and achievement. Assessment is no longer something done to them; the students are playing an active role through self-assessment.

Furthermore, others will be able to recognize and celebrate in the growth and accomplishment of the students if their work is communicated beyond the borders of the classroom. A portfolio provides a unique vehicle for capturing and communicating student learning. Parents tend to learn more about their children’s abilities and propensities through a portfolio than they do through the odd assignment that makes it home and into the parents’ hands. Moreover, other interested members of the school and local community can recognize and celebrate the accomplishment.

Finally, the portfolio can provide an excellent tool for accountability. Parents, educators and community members can learn a great deal about what is happening in a classroom or school or district by viewing and hearing about the contents of these stories. Perhaps more importantly, the student and teacher can uncover a vivid picture of where the student was, where she has traveled to, how she got there and what she accomplished along the way — a fascinating and enlightening story.

Considering the audience

Of course, deciding how to tell the story will be influenced by the intended audience. For example, presenting a collection of work to a teacher who is already familiar with much of the content will likely require a different approach than presenting that work as part of a college application.

Audiences within the classroom

In some classrooms, a portfolio is used much like other assignments as evidence of progress towards or completion of course or grade level goals and standards. In such cases, the only audience might be the teacher who evaluates all the student work. To effectively communicate with the teacher about a body of work, the student may be asked to write a brief introduction or overview capturing her perceptions of the progress (for a growth portfolio) or accomplishments (for a showcase portfolio) reflected in the collection of work. Teachers who assign portfolios not only want to see student work but want to see students reflect upon it.

As a classroom assessor, the teacher also has the benefit of communicating face-to-face with each student. Such conferences take a variety of forms and vary in their frequency. For example,

  • A teacher might review a portfolio at one or more intervals, and then prepare questions for the face-to-face conversation with each student;
  • A student might run the conference by taking the teacher through her portfolio, highlighting elements consistent with the purpose of the portfolio;
  • A “pre-conference” might occur in which teacher and student discuss how the portfolio should be constructed to best showcase it or best prepare it for evaluation.

Additionally, classmates can serve as an audience for a portfolio. Particulary for older students, some teachers require or encourage students to present their portfolios to each other for feedback, dialogue and modeling. For example,

  • Pairs of students can review each other’s work to provide feedback, identify strengths and weaknesses, and suggest future goals;
  • Sharing with each other also provides an opportunity to tell a story or just brag;
  • Students can always benefit from seeing good (or poor) models of work as well as models of meaningful reflection and goal-setting.

As students hear themselves tell each other about the value and meaning of their work it will become more valuable and meaningful to them.

Audiences within the family and school community

As many of us have experienced with our own children, parents sometimes only receive a small, fragmented picture of their children’s school work. Some work never makes it home, some is lost, some is hidden, etc. It can be even harder for parents to construct a coherent picture out of that work to get a real sense of student growth or accomplishment or progress toward a set of standards.

Portfolios provide an opportunity to give parents a fuller glimpse of the processes and products and progress of their children’s learning. Many teachers intentionally involve the parents in the development of the portfolio or make parents an audience or both.

For example, to involve parents in the process,

  • teachers make sure parents view most student work on a consistent basis; for example,
    • some teachers require students to get much of their work signed by parents to be returned to school;
    • some teachers send work home in a two-pocket folder in which one pocket contains work that can stay home and the other pocket contains work that can be viewed by parents but should be returned to school, each pocket carefully labeled as such;
    • some teachers use a three-pocket folder in which the third pocket is a place parents can pass along notes or comments or questions;
  • teachers also invite parents to provide feedback or ask questions about student work; for example,
    • a reflection sheet, perhaps similar to the ones students complete, can be attached to some of the pieces of work sent home inviting parents to make comments, ask questions or provide evaluation;
    • parents might be invited to provide a summary reflection of work they have seen so far;
    • or simply identify one or two pieces of work or aspects of their children’s work that they most like or are most surprised about.

To share the portfolio with parents,

  • many schools host Portfolio Nights, at which students often guide their parent or parents through the story of their work. Having the Night at school allows the student to more easily share the variety of two- and three-dimensional work they have created.
  • after teacher evaluation of the portfolio (if that is done), the complete portfolio might be sent home for the parents to view and possibly respond to. This might occur once at the end of the process or periodically along the way.

A Portfolio Night also provides an opportunity for other members of the school or larger community to view student portfolios. The portfolios may simply be on display to be sampled, or students might guide other audiences through their work.

Similarly, during the school day students can share their portfolios with students from other classes or with school personnel.

Audiences beyond the classroom, school and family

An external audience for student work can serve to motivate students to give more attention to and take more seriously their performance. First, it may give more legitimacy to assigned work. If the work is to be externally reviewed, it suggests that it is not simply “busy work” that provides a grade but that it is something authentic valued outside the walls of the classroom. Second, some students may take more care in their work when they believe a new, different, and perhaps expert audience will be viewing it.

To extend the audience beyond the classroom, school and family, teachers have adopted a variety of approaches, including

  • expanding the audience at Portfolio Nights to include a larger community, perhaps even authors, or scientists or other professionals relevant to the work in the portfolio;
  • inviting professionals or experts in a particular field to come listen to presentations of the portfolios;
  • inviting professionals or experts to serve as one of the reviewers or evaluators of the portfolios;
  • encourage or require students to share their work with a larger audience through the Web or other media. Publishing on the Web also allows students to solicit comments or questions.

    Preparing the student to share

Just as we do not expect children to write or speak well without considerable instruction and practice, it is not reasonable to expect students to effortlessly and effectively share their stories without some help. Teachers have devised a number of strategies to prepare students to communicate with the target audience. Some such strategies include

  • pairing up students in class (“portfolio partners”) to practice presenting their work to each other;
  • pairing up the author of the portfolio with an older student a few grades above. The younger student would practice presenting her work as if she is presenting it to the intended audience (e.g., parents at a Portfolio Night). Both students can benefit as the older student provides feedback and encouragement and may increase her own self-efficacy for the task through modeling and tutoring the younger student.
  • providing models. Teachers provide models of good portfolios that illustrate how the product itself can effectively communicate with an audience through the way it is constructed. Teachers can also model the process of communication by walking through how he or she would share a portfolio with a specific audience. 

Evaluation: If the portfolio is to be used for evaluation, how and when should it be evaluated?

As with all of the elements of portfolios described above, how and when evaluation is addressed varies widely across teachers, schools and districts. Take, for example, …

Evaluation vs. Grading

Evaluation refers to the act of making a judgment about something. Grading takes that process one step further by assigning a grade to that judgment. Evaluation may be sufficient for a portfolio assignment. What is (are) the purpose(s) of the portfolio? If the purpose is to demonstrate growth, the teacher could make judgments about the evidence of progress and provide those judgments as feedback to the student or make note of them for her own records. Similarly, the student could self-assess progress shown or not shown, goals met or not met. No grade needs to be assigned. On a larger scale, an evaluation of the contents within the portfolio or of the entire package may be conducted by external bodies (e.g., community members, other educators, state boards) for the purpose of judging completion of certain standards or requirements. Although the evaluation is serious, and graduation might even hinge on it, no classroom grade may be assigned.

On the other hand, the work within the portfolio and the process of assembling and reflecting upon the portfolio may comprise such a significant portion of a student’s work in a grade or class that the teacher deems it appropriate to assign a value to it and incorporate it into the student’s final grade. Alternatively, some teachers assign grades because they believe without grades there would not be sufficient incentive for some students to complete the portfolio. Ahh, but …

What to Grade

Nothing. Some teachers choose not to grade the portfolio because they have already assigned grades to the contents selected for inclusion.

The metacognitive and organizational elements. But the portfolio is more than just a collection of student work. Depending on its purpose, students might have also included reflections on growth, on strengths and weaknesses, on goals that were or are to be set, on why certain samples tell a certain story about them, or on why the contents reflect sufficient progress to indicate completion of designated standards. Some of the process skills may also be part of the teacher’s or school’s or district’s standards. So, the portfolio provides some evidence of attainment of those standards. Any or all of these elements can be evaluated and/or graded.

Completion. Some portfolios are graded simply on whether or not the portfolio was completed.

Everything. Other teachers evaluate the entire package: the selected samples of student work as well as the reflection, organization and presentation of the portfolio.

How to Grade/Evaluate

Most of the portfolio assignments I have seen have been evaluated or graded with a rubric. A great deal of personal judgment goes into evaluating a complex product such as a portfolio. Thus, applying a rubric, a tool which can provide some clarity and consistency to the evaluation of such products, to the judgment of quality of the story being told and the elements making up that story makes sense. Moreover, if the portfolio is to be evaluated my multiple judges, application of a rubric increases the likelihood of consistency among the judges.

Examples of Portfolio Rubrics

What might a portfolio rubric look like? If the focus of the grading is primarily on whether the samples of student work within the portfolio demonstrate certain competencies, the criteria within the rubric will target those competencies. For example,

Evaluating competencies

Or, Completing requirements

Meeting standards

Evaluating the portfolio as a whole


Who evaluates

The more we can involve students in the assessment process, the more likely they will take ownership of it, be engaged in it, and find it worthwhile. So, it makes sense to involve students in the evaluation process of their portfolios as well. They have likely engaged in some self-assessment in the reflection or goal-setting components of the portfolio. Additionally, students are capable of evaluating how well their portfolio elements meet standards, requirements, or competencies, for their own portfolios or those of their peers. Furthermore, older peers could make excellent judges of the work of younger students. Cross-grade peer tutoring has demonstrated how well the older and younger students respond to such interactions.

Obviously, the classroom teacher, other educators, review board members, community members, etc. can all serve as judges of student work. If multiple judges are used, particularly if they are not directly familiar with the student work or assignments, training on a rubric should be provided before evaluation proceeds. The evaluators should be familiar with and clear on the criteria and the levels of performance within the rubric. A calibration session, in which the judges evaluate some sample portfolios and then share ratings to reach some consensus on what each criteria and level of performance within the rubric means, can provide a good opportunity for judges to achieve some competence and consistency in applying a rubric.


Can I do Portfolios Without all the Fuss?

Oh, what fun would that be! Actually, the answer is a qualified “yes.” Portfolios do typically require considerable work, particularly if conferencing is involved. But with most anything, including assessment, I recommend that you start small.

Here’s a quick, easy way to get started if any of the above thoughts has either encouraged you or not discouraged you from considering assigning portfolios in your little world. The following describes just one possible way to get started.

Step 1. Depending on the age of your students and other considerations, have students select two pieces of their work over the course of a quarter (or three or four over a semester). Decide (with your students or without) upon one or more criteria by which the selection will be guided (e.g., their best work). To limit management time, don’t wait for the end of the quarter for students to make those selections. Otherwise, all their work will have to be collected along the way. Instead, if you want to keep it simple, tell your students ahead of time that they will be selecting two or more pieces matching certain criteria, and that you will ask them to do it at the point each sample is completed.

Step 2. At the time a student selects a sample to be included in his portfolio, require the student to complete a brief reflection sheet and attach it to the sample.

Step 3. Depending on the age of your students, ask your student to save that sample and the attached reflection sheet until the end of the quarter or semester, or collect it and store it yourself at that point.

Step 4. At the end of the quarter or semester, ask your students to reflect upon the samples one additional time by describing what they liked best about their work, or by identifying strengths and weaknesses, or by setting one or two goals for the future.

There, that wasn’t too painful. Okay, you ask, that was relatively simple, but did it really accomplish anything? Good question. If you don’t think so, don’t do it. On the other hand, it could possibly have a few benefits worth the effort. First, if nothing else it gave you some experience working with portfolios. If you want to pursue portfolios in a more elaborate manner, at least you are now more familiar with some of the issues involved. Second, if you think developing self-assessment skills in your students is a worthwhile goal, you have also begun that process. Even a little reflection on your students’ part may be more than some of them typically give to their work. Finally, you may have opened, even if it is just a little bit, a new avenue for you and your students to communicate with their parents about their performance, their strengths and weaknesses, and their habits. Any of those reasons may be sufficient to try your hand at portfolios. Good luck!




Copyright 2018, Jon Mueller. Professor of Psychology, North Central College, Naperville, IL. Comments, questions or suggestions about this website should be sent to the author, Jon Mueller, at jfmueller@noctrl.edu.


What is the International Space University?

International Space University

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
International Space University
Type Non-profit Interdisciplinary University
Established 1987
Chairman Chris Sallaberger
Chancellor Buzz Aldrin
President Juan de Dalmau
Vice-president Steve Brody, Vice President, North American Operations
Director Chris Welch, Omar Hatamleh
Students 200/year



48°31′23″N 7°44′13″ECoordinates: 48°31′23″N 7°44′13″E

Website isunet.edu

The International Space University (ISU) is a university dedicated to the discovery, research and development of outer space exploration for peaceful purposes, through international and multidisciplinary education and research programs. It is a not-for-profit interdisciplinary university founded in 1987 that offers a Master of Science in Space Studies (MSS) in addition to the flagship Space Studies Program (SSP), a professional development program that has convened annually every summer since 1988 at various locations around the world.[1]

The International Space University Central Campus and global headquarters are located in Illkirch-Graffenstaden near Strasbourg, France. ISU was founded on the “3-Is” philosophy providing an Interdisciplinary, Intercultural, and International environment for educating and training space professionals and post-graduate students. As of September 2018, there were over 4600 ISU alumni from more than 105 countries. In November 2017 the International Space University hosted a conference in Stasbourg that led to the formation of the Moon Village Association. [2][3]

The ISU faculty members include astronauts, space agency leaders, space engineers, space scientists, managers, and experts in space law and policy comprising an international collection of experts in technical and non-technical space-related fields.

The Chancellor of the International Space University is Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin,[4] who succeeded then–European Space Agency Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and acclaimed science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, in 2004. The sixth President of the International Space University is Juan de Dalmau who succeeded Prof. Walter Peeters, in September 2018[5].

In 1985, three young space enthusiasts created the Space Generation Foundation, dedicated to fostering a sense of identity for those people born since the beginning of the space era.[6] The ISU founders are Peter Diamandis, a medical doctor with a Master’s in aerospace engineering from MIT; Todd Hawley, a graduate from Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, and Robert D. Richards, an engineer and physicist, and former assistant of the well-known astrophysicist Carl Sagan. They generated a series of novel ideas from which a “Space University” was exceptionally well received.[7] The idea garnered the support of a number of important personalities in the space field, including Prof. U.R. Rao, president of the Indian Space Research Organization; Dr. Harrison Schmitt, an Apollo 17 astronaut and former senator; Dr. Burton Edelson, Associate Administrator of NASA for Space, Science, and Applications; Dr. Gerard K. O’Neill from the Space Studies Institute; space pioneer Prof. Hermann Oberth; and Arthur C. Clarke, the visionary writer, along with many others.[8]

This initiative was further developed and presented to the Advances in the Astronautical Sciences (AAS) Meeting dedicated to Aerospace Century XXI in Boulder, Colorado in 1986.[9] The following year, a three-day Founding Conference convened at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from 10–12 April 1987. These dates were chosen to commemorate the flight of Yuri Gagarin (12 April 1961), the first human in space. The Founding Conference culminated in the formal creation of the International Space University, established as a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization in the state of Massachusetts, USA. The first ISU Summer Session Program (SSP) took place at MIT from 20 June to 20 August 1988 with the support of the major space agencies. The artwork for the first brochure was made by Pat Rawlings.

Following an international competition for a host city for the Central Campus, the ISU home base moved from Massachusetts to Illkirch-Graffenstaden in the Urban Community of Strasbourg, France in 1994. ISU is now a non-profit association registered in Alsace (France), and is still registered in the USA as a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization. The Governing Members of ISU are international organizations, industries, space agencies, academic institutions, and individual members.

The French Ministry of Education formally recognized ISU as an institute of higher education in 2004[10][full citation needed]. The International Space University has had permanent observer status with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs since 1998. ISU was also granted full membership of the Space Agency Forum (SAF) in 1995. ISU is a member of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and has been invited to contribute to a number of international activities including the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum,[11][full citation needed] the IAF Symposium on “Bringing Space into Education”, the World Space Workshop on Education, and the National Science Week Steering Committee.[citation needed]

To ensure that the programs offered meet the demands of a rapidly changing space sector, ISU regularly conducts surveys to ascertain the latest educational needs of the global space enterprises and updates its programs accordingly. The milestones of the history of ISU are noted in the Table below:[citation needed]

Date Milestone
1987 ISU Founding Conference and Incorporation in USA
1988 First Summer Session at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts
1993 Strasbourg selected as Location for ISU Central Campus
1993 First Affiliate Conference, Huntsville, Alabama
1994 ISU relocates to Strasbourg and incorporates in Alsace
1995 First Master of Science in Space Studies (MSS)
1996 First Short Programs (Symposium, Workshops and PDP)
2000 Groundbreaking for ISU Central Campus in Illkirch-Graffenstaden
2002 Official Opening of ISU Central Campus
2003 First Introductory Space Course (now the Executive Space Course)
2004 Official Recognition by the French Ministry of Education
2004 First Master of Science in Space Management (MSM)
2009 Beginning of the Space Executive MBA (EMBA)
2011 Beginning of the Southern Hemisphere Summer Space Program (SH-SSP)
2012 25th Anniversary of ISU celebrated on 12 April
2014 20th Anniversary of ISU in Strasbourg
2015 20th Anniversary of Master of Science in Space Studies (MSS)
2017 30th Anniversary of ISU celebrated

ISU originally evolved in a geographically decentralized way, with summer sessions convened in a different country each year. In 1994 the Central Campus was established in Strasbourg, Alsace, France, because of its central European location and unique[citation needed] character. During the first years, the Master of Science classes took place in the Pôle API of the École Nationale Supérieure de Physique de Strasbourg.

Since 2002 ISU has had its own building, thanks to the support of the local authorities. The Central Campus is now located in the Parc d’Innovation of Illkirch-Graffenstaden just south of Strasbourg, less than 30 minutes from the city center by public transportation.[12]

ISU’s organizational structure includes a Board of Advisors, chaired by the Chancellor, and a Board of Trustees elected by the Governing Membership of the ISU. The Board of Trustees determines ISU’s overall objectives, oversees the University’s affairs and appoints the ISU President. The President is supported by an Executive Committee, Academic Staff (who prepare and deliver ISU programs) and Administrative Staff (responsible for the daily operation of the Institution). The Academic Staff are led by the Dean, who is supported by staff responsible for ISU’s academic programs (Masters and SSP) and library services. The Academic Council of ISU is responsible for ensuring the academic quality of ISU’s teaching and research activities. ISU academic staff include a number of Resident Faculty, augmented by other Faculty and Lecturers as needed for the programs.[citation needed]

The programs offered by ISU are dedicated to the space-related fields, as well as sports programs.

  • A twelve-month Master of Science in Space Studies (MSS)
  • A two-month Space Studies Program (SSP)
  • A five-week Southern Hemisphere Summer Space Studies Program (SH-SSP)
  • A one-week Executive Space Course (ESC) providing a basic introduction to space topics for corporates executives.

  • Professional Development Programs
  • Workshops
  • Short Courses
  • Forums

Participation in these programs is open to individuals and institutions of all nationalities. As an open academic forum, ISU welcomes open and free ===Masters of Science===

The Master of Science in Space Studies (MSS) and the Master of Science in Space Management (MSM) are graduate-level degree programs in the space field. These one-year degree programs include a three-month professional internship and several professional visits. The main elements of the Masters are:[13]

  • Lectures covering all major disciplines related to space, with corresponding workshops and roundtables,
  • Lectures on contemporary space-related issues and events which as a whole provide an interdisciplinary and intercultural education,
  • Team Projects involving most, if not all, of those disciplines (see Table below),
  • Individual Projects performed during the academic year and during an internship period,
  • Professional Visits and participation to ISU Annual Symposium,
  • Specific skills training.
Year Team Projects
  • TerraSPACE: SPACE: the Final Frontier for CSR
  • Dragonfly: The Rise of Drones
  • LUNA HATHOR: Looked into the interest of drilling on the moon
  • SEDNA: Description of Icy Moons and selection of best candidates for astrobiological missions
  • Blue Marble : Space solutions for water management
  • Astra Planeta : Deals with an Interstellar Worldship
  • One Way Missions to Mars: Scenarios for Mars potential settlement
  • Migration and Population Opportunities for Space: Space to effectively prepare for migration
  • BRIAN: BRain for an Integrated Arctic Network[14]
  • Mars-X: Human Exploration of Mars from Martian Orbit[15]
  • IDEAS for Africa: Identifying and Developing Effective Applications of Space for Africa[16]
  • EC2LIPSE: Exploring Climate Change Lagrangian Point 1 Solutions for Earth[17]
  • KOUROU Vision 2030: Human Spaceflights from the Kourou Spaceport[18]
  • SHINE: Space for a Health Information Network on Earth[19]
  • MAP: Mars Analog Path[20]
  • CATCH: A space-based solution for illegal, unreported, unregulated fishing[21]
  • Climate LINKS: A terrestrial data collection network complementing satellite observations[22]
  • Space and Responsive Systems[23]
  • ALERTS: Analysis of Lunar Exploratory Robotic Tasks for Safety[24]
  • Great Expectations: Assessing the potential for suborbital transportation[25]
  • Full Moon: Storage & delivery of oxygen and hydrogen[26]
  • START: Space Tools supporting Archaeological Research and Tasks[27]
  • SWORD: Space Weather Observation, Research and Distribution[28]
  • FERTILE Moon: Feasibility of Extraction of Resources and Toolkit for in-situ Lunar Exploration[29]
  • Visysphere Mars: Terraforming meets engineered life adaptation[30]
  • SAOTEC: Space Aid for Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion[31]
  • Human Missions to Europa and Titan – Why not?[32]
  • SPIN: Space-based Progressive Interoperable Networks[33]
  • PATH – M: Program Advancing Towards Humans on Mars[34]
  • Navigation Systems for Future Space Vehicles: Requirements and recommendations[35]
  • Virtual EVA: A ground option for space tourism[36]
  • Charting Response Options for Threatening Near Earth Object[37]
  • ISIS: ISU Small Satellite Interdisciplinary Survey[38]
  • PISCES: Proposal for International Spacecraft Cooperation for Education and Science[39]
  • ALTV: Autonomous Lunar Transport Vehicle[40]
  • Open for Business: A new approach to commercialization of the ISS[41]
  • THIRD EYE: An aircraft collision prevention teleservice[42]
  • MISSION: Multi-mission Innovative Space System for an Information Optimized Network[43]
  • SAND: Space Assisted Network against Desertification[44]

The Space Studies Program (SSP) is an intense two-month course for postgraduate students and professionals of all disciplines. The curriculum covers the principal space related fields, both non-technical and technical and ranges from policy and law, business and management and humanities to life sciences, engineering, physical sciences and space applications. The shared experience of an international, interactive working environment is an ideal networking forum leading to the creation of an extensive, international, multidisciplinary professional network.

Each year the SSP convenes in a different location around the world. The SSP curriculum includes:

  • Core Lectures covering fundamental concepts across all relevant disciplines,
  • Theme days presenting keys/issues of space with an interdisciplinary approach,
  • Hands-on workshops providing practical applications of the concepts presented in the lectures,
  • Departmental Activities of the seven SSP departments providing in-depth lectures & workshops, professional visits, and individual research projects,
  • Team Projects in which the SSP participants address a relevant space topic as an international, interdisciplinary, and intercultural team.

Future Space Studies Programs Future Space Studies programs are planned for:[45]

Past Space Studies Programs, Locations and Team Projects

Year Location Team Projects
2018 Delft, The Netherlands
  • Climate Change
  • Space Debris
  • Weather
  • Lunar Night Survival
2017 Cork, Ireland
  • A New Vision: The Future of the ISS : A Journey to the Future Beyond 2024
  • Astropreneurs: The Galactic Guide to Space Entrepreneurship
  • ARESS: A Roadmap for Emerging Space States
  • NetSpace: The Internet of Things and Future Applications for Energy and Space
2016 Haifa, Israel
  • Artificial Gravity: Conceptualizing the design and associated analyses of a commercial artificial gravity LEO space station
  • Implication of New Discoveries in the Martian Environment: Drafting a Mars Human space exploration science and technology roadmap
  • Space Big Data: Learning how teamwork and problem solving are achieved in an international, multicultural and multidisciplinary environment
2015 Athens, USA
  • Planetary Defense: Defending our home planet is imperative since new technologies allow us to do so
  • Vision 2040: Studying the trends in major areas driving space exploration and development in order to construct a “vision” of what the year 2040 would look like
  • Monitoring Environmental Effects of Hydraulic Fracturing Using Remote Sensing: Tracking Fracking: Ohio used as a case study
2014 Montréal, Canada
  • Autonomous Mission for On-Orbit Servicing: Proposing to service defective satellites in Low Earth Orbit using unmanned space technologies
  • Exoplanets: Rich prospects exist for finding more exoplanets and learning more about those already found
  • Space and Open Innovation: Promoting and implementing a stronger horizontal approach between scientists, engineers, and the business community
2013 Strasbourg, France
  • SolarMAX: A space weather survival guide[46]
  • KOASTAL: Kenyan coast Observation through Affordable Space Technology Applications[47]
  • AMBIEnT: Affordable Microsatellite-based Internet access and EnvironmenTal monitoring[48]
2012 Florida Institute of Technology and NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA
  • BLISS: Beyond LEO Into the Solar System. A guide to future space stations[49]
  • OASIS: Operations And Service Infrastructure for Space[50]
  • Space Debris[51]
  • Space and STEM: One giant leap for education[52]
2011 Graz, Austria
  • CHARM: Cooperation of Humans and Robots for Mars[53]
  • GO SSP: Guidebook On Small Satellite Programs[54]
  • H2OPE: Tigris-Euphrates and the Global Water Crisis[55]
2010 Strasbourg, France
  • ecoSpace: Initiatives for Environmentally Sustainable Launch Activities[56]
  • ASTRA: Asteroid Mining[57]
  • RE-FOCUS: Carbon Cycle[58]
2009 NASA Ames Research Center, United States
  • ACCESS Mars: Assessing Cave Capabilities Establishing Specific Solutions[59]
  • SAFEN EARTH: Space Aid for Energy Needs on Earth[60]
  • DREAM: Disaster Risk Evaluation And Management[61]
2008 Barcelona, Spain
  • FuturIST: Future Infrastructure for Space Transportation[62]
  • VAPOR: An Integrated Framework for Early Warning and Hazard Tracking of Volcanic Activity on Earth[63]
  • Noumenia: Building on the Google Lunar X-Prize[64]
2007 Beijing, China
  • Space Traffic Management: Manage Spacecrafts and Debris in Space[65]
  • DOCTOR: Developing On-Orbit Servicing Concepts Technology Options and Roadmap[66]
  • Phoenix: Lunar Biological and Historical Archive[67]
  • TREMOR: Technology Resources for Earthquake Monitoring and Response[68]
2006 Strasbourg, France
  • Luna Gaia: A Closed Loop Habitat for the Moon[69]
  • MiNI: From Tiny to Infinity[70]
  • SOL: Earth Observation Systems for Small Countries and Regions[71]
2005 Vancouver, Canada
  • FLAMA: Fire Logistics And Management Approach[72]
  • CASSANDRA: A Strategy to Protect our Planet from Near-Earth Objects[73]
  • REVOLUTION: Robotic Exploration of Venus to Study Planetary Evolution[74]
2004 Adelaide, Australia
  • CONNECTS: The Role of Satellite Communications in the Development of Rural and Remote Regions[75]
  • STREAM: Space Technologies for the Research of Effective wAter Management[76]
  • LunAres: International Lunar Exploration in Preparation for Mars[77]
2003 Strasbourg, France
  • ECOSPHERE: Earth Climate Observation System Promoting Human Ecological Research & Education[78]
  • TRACKS TO SPACE: Technology Research Advancing Cooperative Knowledge Sharing to Space[79]
  • METZTLI: An International Space Station Approach to Lunar Exploration[80]
2002 Pomona, United States
  • Alone?: A Source Book for Astrobiology[81]
  • HI-STAR: Health Improvement using Space Technology and Resources[82]
2001 Bremen, Germany
  • C.A.S.H. 2021: Commercial Access and Space Habitation[83]
  • CASSIOPEE: Concepts for Advanced Small Satellites to Improve Observation and Preservation of Europe[84]
2000 Valparaíso, Chile
  • ENSO: A Global Challenge and Keys to a Solution[85]
  • Space Tourism: From Dream to Reality[86]
1999 Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
  • Out of the Cradle: An International Strategy for Human Exploration away from Earth[87]
  • SEADS: South East Asia Disaster Management System[88]
1998 Cleveland, United States
  • MAGIC: Moving Aside Gravity’s Influence and Constraints[89]
  • Hazards to Spaceflight[90]
1997 Houston, United States
  • International Strategies for the Exploration of Mars[91]
  • Technology Transfer: Bridging Space and Society[92]
1996 Vienna, Austria
  • Ra: The Sun For Science And Humanity[93]
  • DOCC: Distant Operational Care Centre[94]
1995 Stockholm, Sweden
  • Earth’s Polar Regions: Observation, Protection, and Applications[95]
  • Vision 2020: An International View of the Future[96]
1994 Barcelona, Spain
  • GATES: Global Access Tele-Health and Education System[97]
  • SSE: Solar System Exploration[98]
1993 Huntsville, United States
  • GEOWARN: Global Emergency Observation and Warning[99]
  • ILFOSS: International Lunar Farside Observatory & Science Station[100]
1992 Kitakyushu, Japan
  • ISUNET[101]
  • SSPP: Space Solar Power Program[102]
1991 Toulouse, France
  • International Mars Mission[103]
1990 Toronto, Canada
  • IAM: International Asteroid Mission[104]
  • International Program for Earth Observations[105]
1989 Strasbourg, France
  • Artemis: A Program to Identify and Map Lunar Resources[106]
  • Newton: A Variable Gravity Research Facility[107]
1988 Cambridge, United States
  • International Lunar Initiative Organization[108]

The Southern Hemisphere Summer Space Program (SH-SSP) is a five weeks course open to undergraduate students and professionals of all disciplines with space interest. As in all ISU programs, the curriculum covers not only the space related fields and space applications, but also non-technical fields such as policy, law, space business and management techniques.

The intention of a second program, next to the established SSP program of ISU, was to extend the offering to participants of the Southern Hemisphere, in line with the local summer holidays, but participants from all nations are welcomed.

The program is offered in partnership with the University of South Australia in Adelaide (Mawson Lakes Campus) and benefits from scholarship support from the Australian Space Research Program. The intention is to have the program iterating to different locations in the Southern Hemisphere, in particular in Africa and South America, but regularly returning to Australia.

Year Location Whitepaper Topic
2018 UniSA, Australia
  • Disaster Management: Space Based Solutions for Developing Nations
  • Space Ready: The Launchpad for Emerging Agencies
2017 UniSA, Australia
  • Small Sats Big Shift: Recommendations for the Global South
2016 UniSA, Australia
  • Space Solutions for Food & Water Security
2014 UniSA, Australia
  • Our Turbulent Sun
2013 UniSA, Australia
  • Common Horizons
2012 UniSA, Australia
  • Space-Based Tele-Reach Systems for Southern Hemisphere
2011 UniSA, Australia
  • Paths to Progress: Space and the Southern Hemisphere

Previous White Paper executive summaries and full reports are available for download from the ISU Library.

The Executive Space Course (ESC) provides an overview of space and of space-related subjects for professionals of diverse backgrounds, including marketing, finance, law, and contracts management, intended to improve their communication with technical colleagues.

Since 1995, the collection of the ISU Library has grown to reach about 9,000 space-related documents. The collection supports the interdisciplinary aspects of the courses and include subjects like space-related business and management, space policy and law, international cooperation, remote sensing and Earth observation, telecommunication, space engineering, space mission design, astronomy, space life sciences, and space medicine.The Library also features news about space, information from space agencies and research institutes around the world, and awareness and alerting services from journals. RSS feeds can be used to follow the library new acquisitions. Interested people may subscribe to the feeds for receiving regular updates about books, electronic documents, or Team Projects reports that are added to the online catalog.[109]

With the strong support from ESA, the following facilities were installed and put into operation:[citation needed]

Several optical and radio telescopes at ISU give students the opportunity of performing observations as well as the necessary analysis, which introduces them to typical techniques of astrophysical research and gives them a first-hand experience in the study of the invisible Universe.

The satellite television Ku band (10–12 GHz) is suitable to perform observations of the Sun and the Moon, using conventional material, such as a 1.2-meter parabolic dish, placed on the roof of the ISU building. This telescope, developed under ESA contract by the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits in Dresden for use in schools, has been given to ISU by ESA. It is capable of providing properly calibrated data, and hence allows to determine the surface temperatures of the Sun and the Moon. Since its in-depth testing by ISU Masters students, it has been extensively used in the framework of workshops and individual student projects. With the ESA-Dresden Radio Telescope the students can experience and perform all the necessary steps from observation, calibration, and data reduction to the interpretation and evaluation of the results.

The Haystack Observatory, run by MIT, developed a Small Radio Telescope (SRT) for educational purposes, consisting of a 2.3-meter diameter standard satellite dish antenna. This radio telescope operates at a 1.42 GHz frequency (21-cm wavelength) where hydrogen atoms emit a strong spectral line. This allows radio astronomers to detect hydrogen, the most abundant element of the Universe. One SRT has been donated to ISU by ESA and is operational since 2009. This new asset, named the ESA-Haystack Radio Telescope, provides the students with the opportunity of performing observations of astronomical objects even outside the Solar System.

When the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) acquired a new Concurrent Design Facility, its initial CDF was set up at the ISU Central Campus in 2008. The CDF brings the Masters students the possibility of familiarizing with concurrent engineering and its application processes through workshops and assignments. These hands-on activities always have double-oriented tasks, by combining the CDF process with the development of space-related topics. As the usefulness of concurrent engineering extends much further than space mission design, the use of the ISU CDF for design processes in other industry fields than space is also under consideration.

A fully automated satellite tracking station is installed at ISU since 2008. This ground station provides several hands-on training opportunities for the Masters students, as satellite communication is now a reality at ISU. The ISU Tracking Ground Station was built in the scope of the Global Educational Network for Satellite Operations (GENSO) project, an endeavor involving students worldwide and promoted by the International Space Education Board (ISEB), an organization including the educational departments of some of the major space agencies worldwide.

Established in 2009, the ISU Human Spaceflight Laboratory includes a rotating chair, the training model of the ultrasound echocardiograph and body motion analysis equipment that flew on Mir in 1988, and the flight model of the neuroscience Pocket equipment that flew on the Space Shuttle STS-51G mission. This equipment was all donated by CNES. In addition, NASA has loaned a training model of the ISS Advanced Life Support Pack (ALSP) and ESA has loaned a training model of the ISS 3DSPACE experiment. The Human Spaceflight Laboratory is also equipped with a clinostat, an autoclave, a laminar flow cabinet, microscopes, medical diagnosis and surgery tools, and other laboratory equipment to provide realistic hands-on training on the experiments performed in space by astronauts.

The goal of the Self Deployable Habitat for Extreme Environments (SHEE) is to develop a deployable space analog habitat demonstrating technologies and architecture that may one day be used in extreme environment habitats on the Earth, Moon, and Mars. This project is a partnership between seven different companies and institutions representing five different European nations. This habitat is designed to support two “astronauts” for missions of up to two weeks in duration. Construction was completed in July 2015, after which the SHEE was shipped to ISU for validation and testing. ISU faculty and students will spend the next six months evaluating the habitat and delivering a report on their findings to the European Commission. The SHEE will live in the ISU High Bay until April 2016 when it will take part in a Mars Analog mission called Moonwalk in Rio Tinto, Spain.

Up until 2013, an annual ISU symposium was convened to address a topic with broad interest both with space industry and among the space agencies. The Symposium has been suspended until further notice. Other international conference style events are being planned and convened on the ISU campus. Refer to the ISU web site for more details. The following table presents the topics covered from 1996-2013.

Year Subject
2013 Space Technology and Tele-Reach: Benefiting Humanity on Earth and Beyond
2012 Sustainability of Space Activities: International Issues and Potential Solutions
2011 The International Space Station: Maximizing the Return from Extended Operations
2010 The Public Face of Space
2009 Space for a Safe and Secure World
2008 Space Solutions to Earth’s Global Challenges
2007 Why the Moon?
2005 Space Exploration: Who, What, When, Where, Why?
2004 Civil, Commercial and Security Space: What Will Drive the Next Decade?
2003 Satellite Navigation Systems: Policy, Commercial and Technical Interaction[110]
2002 Beyond the International Space Station: The Future of Human Spaceflight[111]
2001 Smaller Satellites: Bigger Business? Concepts, Applications and Markets for Micro/Nanosatellites in a New Information World[112]
2000 The Space Transportation Market: Evolution or Revolution?[113]
1999 International Space Station: The Next Space Marketplace[114]
1998 Space and the Global Village: Tele-services for the 21st Century[115]
1997 New Space Markets[116]
1996 Space of Service to Humanity: Preserving Earth and Improving Life[117]

  • Ben Finney, 1994-2003 co-chair of Space and Society department

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  117. ^ Haskell G, Rycroft M, ed. (1996). Space of service to humanity : preserving Earth and improving life. Proceedings of an International Symposium, 5–7 February 1996, Strasbourg, France. Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7923-4344-8.
  118. ^ Buzz Aldrin [@TheRealBuzz] (14 October 2015). “I am so honored to be the new Chancellor of ISU at the #IAC2015 following in Arthur C Clarke’s footsteps” (Tweet) – via Twitter.


Introducing Robert Zubrin President of The Mars Society

Students at the Barboza Space Center will be reading Dr. Zubrin this summer. It will be part of the STEAM++ training program for Jr. astronauts, engineers and scientists.  www.BarbozaSpaceCenter.com


Robert Zubrin

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Robert Zubrin
Robert Zubrin by the Mars Society.jpg

Photo of Zubrin by the Mars Society
Born April 9, 1952 (age 67)
Residence Lakewood, Colorado, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Rochester
University of Washington
(M.S), (PhD)
Known for Mars Direct
Mars Society
The Case for Mars
Energy Victory
Scientific career
Fields Aerospace engineering
Institutions Martin Marietta
Pioneer Astronautics

Robert Zubrin (/ˈzbrɪn/;[1] born April 9, 1952) is an American aerospace engineer and author, best known for his advocacy of human exploration of Mars. He and his colleague at Martin Marietta, David Baker, were the driving force behind Mars Direct, a proposal in a 1990 research paper intended to produce significant reductions in the cost and complexity of such a mission. The key idea was to use the Martian atmosphere to produce oxygen, water, and rocket propellant for the surface stay and return journey. A modified version of the plan was subsequently adopted by NASA as their “design reference mission”. He questions the delay and cost-to-benefit ratio of first establishing a base or outpost on an asteroid or another Project Apollo-like return to the Moon, as neither would be able to provide all of its own oxygen, water, or energy; these resources are producible on Mars, and he expects people would be there thereafter.[2]

Disappointed with the lack of interest from government in Mars exploration and after the success of his book The Case for Mars (1996), as well as leadership experience at the National Space Society, Zubrin established the Mars Society in 1998. This is an international organization advocating a manned Mars mission as a goal, by private funding if possible.

Robert Zubrin was born April 9, 1952.[citation needed] Zubrin holds a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Rochester (1974), a M.S. in Nuclear Engineering (1984), a M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics (1986), and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering (1992) — all from the University of Washington.[3][4] He has developed a number of concepts for space propulsion and exploration, and is the author of over 200 technical and non-technical papers and five books. He was a member of Lockheed Martin‘s scenario development team charged with developing strategies for space exploration. He was also “a senior engineer with the Martin Marietta Astronautics company, working as one of its leaders in development of advanced concepts for interplanetary missions”.[5] He is also President of both the Mars Society and Pioneer Astronautics, a private company that does research and development on innovative aerospace technologies. Zubrin is the co-inventor on a U.S. design patent and a U.S. utility patent on a hybrid rocket/airplane, and on a U.S. utility patent on an oxygen supply system (see links below). He was awarded his first patent at age 20 in 1972 for Three Player Chess. His inventions also include the nuclear salt-water rocket and co-inventor (with Dana Andrews) of the magnetic sail. Zubrin is fellow at Center for Security Policy.[6]

In 2008, Zubrin founded Pioneer Energy, a research and development firm headquartered in Lakewood, Colorado. The company’s focus is to develop mobile Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) systems that can enable CO2-based EOR for both small and large oil producers in the United States. The company has also developed a number of new processes for manufacturing synthetic fuels.[7]

Zubrin has also edited or co-edited the following books, most of which include his contributions:

  • Mars Direct: A Simple, Robust, and Cost Effective Architecture for the Space Exploration Initiative (1991), co-edited by D.A.V.I.D. Baker and Owen Gwyne. This contains a series of rationales and data regarding the proposal of plan Mars Direct.
  • Islands in the Sky: Bold New Ideas for Colonizing Space (1996), co-edited with Stanley Schmidt. This is a collection of fifteen selected non-fiction entries that had been published in Analog magazine over the years; it includes five articles authored or co-authored by Zubrin, including “The Hypersonic Skyhook”, “Mars Direct: A Proposal for the Rapid Exploration and Colonization of the Red Planet” (co-authored with David A. Baker), “Colonizing the Outer Solar System”, “Terraforming Mars” (co-authored with Christopher McKay), and “The Magnetic Sail”. Notable additional contributors include Robert L. Forward and the godfather of terraforming, Martyn J. Fogg, each of whom contributed two articles.
  • From Imagination to Reality: Mars Exploration Studies of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society : Precursors and Early Piloted Exploration Missions (1997).
  • From Imagination to Reality: Mars Exploration Studies of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society : Base Building, Colonization and Terraformation (1997).
  • Proceedings of the Founding Convention of the Mars Society (1999), co-edited with Maggie Zubrin. This contains articles corresponding to talks presented at the founding convention of the Mars Society in Boulder, Colorado in August 1998; it includes contributions from Zubrin, Buzz Aldrin, Martyn Fogg, and many others.
  • On to Mars: Colonizing a New World (2002 Apogee Books), co-edited with Frank Crossman. This contains articles corresponding to talks presented at the annual conventions of the Mars Society in Boulder in 1999, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 2000, and at Stanford University, Palo Alto, California in 2001.
  • On to Mars 2: Exploring and Settling a New World (2005 Apogee Books), co-edited with Frank Crossman. This contains over 130 articles corresponding to talks presented at the annual conventions of the Mars Society in Boulder in 2002, in Eugene, Oregon in 2003, and in Chicago, Illinois in 2004.

Dr. Zubrin is known as an advocate of a moderately anthropocentric position in the ethics of terraforming. Discussions of the ethics of terraforming often[citation needed] make reference to a series of public debates Zubrin has held with his friend Christopher McKay, who advocates a moderately biocentric position on the ethics of terraforming. For example, a written account of some of these debates is available in On to Mars: Colonizing a New World, as a joint article, “Do Indigenous Martian Bacteria have Precedence over Human Exploration?” (pp. 177–182)

An aging Robert Zubrin also appears as a background character in The Martian Race (1999) by Gregory Benford, a science fiction novel depicting early human explorers on Mars in the very near future. Benford, who is also an astrophysicist, is a longtime member of both the board of directors and the steering committee of the Mars Society.

Robert Zubrin was also featured in a 2007 CBC Television documentary special, The Passionate Eye, dubbed “The Mars Underground”.[10]

The songwriter and musician Frank Black (alias Black Francis of the Pixies) penned an homage to Zubrin, “Robert Onion”, on the album Dog in the Sand. The lyrics are in the form of an acrostic, spelling “Robert The Case For Mars Zubrin”.[11]

In 2010 Robert Zubrin was featured in the Symphony of Science video “The Case for Mars” along with Carl Sagan, Brian Cox, and Penelope Boston.

The fictional character Dr. Zachary Walzer in the 2010-11 independent VODO series Pioneer One was inspired by Zubrin.[12]

In 2016, Zubrin was one of several scientists and engineers interviewed in the National Geographic miniseries Mars.

  1. ^ Mars And Beyond With Dr. Robert Zubrin
  2. ^ Robert Zubrin (April 21, 2005). “Getting Space Exploration Right”. Space Daily. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  3. ^ “Robert Zubrin”. Nasa. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  4. ^ “Robert Zubrin”. Pioneer Astronautics. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  5. ^ Zubrin, Robert (1996). The Case for Mars. Touchstone.
  6. ^ Zubrin, Robert (October 10, 2014). “ZUBRIN: Iran is 10 months away from the A-bomb”. The Washingtion Times. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
  7. ^ “Aerospace engineer bets on space tech to cash in on gas flaring”. September 16, 2014. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  8. ^ Email from Robert Zubrin to Tim McMahon dated 9-18-2003 requesting book review
  9. ^ Jack J. Woehr (November 17, 2003). “The galaxy strikes back”. Enter Stage Right. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  10. ^ “The Mars Underground”. CBC News. September 4, 2010. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  11. ^ “Robert Onion”. Frank Black Discopedia. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  12. ^ ‘Pioneer One’, the indie sci-fi drama, was released on BitTorrent 6 years ago. Now we have a shot at a big-budget reboot!


The AI Revolution ( When will it start?)

Comments on Michael Jordan’s Essay
“Artificial Intelligence: The revolution hasn’t happened yet”

Emmanuel Cande`s, John Duchi, Chiara Sabatti

Stanford University March 2019



We praise Jordan for bringing much needed clarity about the current status of Artificial Intelligence (AI)—what it currently is and what it is not—as well as explaining the current challenges lying ahead and outlining what is missing and remains to be done. Jordan makes several claims supported by a list of talking points that we hope will reach a wide audience; ideally, that audience will include academic, university, and governmental leaders, at a time where significant resources are being allocated to AI for research and education.

The importance of clarity

Jordan makes the point of being precise about the history of the term AI, and distinguishes several activities taking place under the AI umbrella term.

Is it all right to use AI as a label for all of these different activities? Jordan seems to think it is not and we agree. To begin with, words are not simple aseptic names; they matter, and they convey meaning (as any branding expert knows). To quote Heidegger: “Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man.” In this instance, we believe that mislabeling generates confusion, which has consequences for research and educational programming.

Mislabeling and lack of historical knowledge obscure the areas in which we must educate students. Jordan argues “that most of what is being called AI today, particularly in the public sphere, is what has been called Machine Learning (ML) for the past several decades.” This is a fair point. Now, what has made ML so successful? What are the disciplines supporting ML and providing a good basis to understand the challenges, open problems and limitations of the current techniques? A quick look at major machine learning textbooks reveals that they all begin with a treatment of what one might term basic statistical tools (linear models, generalized linear models, logistic regression) as well as a treatment of cross validation, overfitting, and related statistical concepts. We also find chapters on probability theory and probabilistic modeling. How about engineering disciplines? Clearly, progress in optimization, particularly in convex optimization, has fueled ML algorithms for the last two decades. When we think about setting up educational programs, clarity is recognizing that statistical, probabilistic, and algorithmic reasoning have been successful, and that it is crucial for us to train researchers in these disciplines to make further progress and understand the limits of current tools.

At the research level, different fields of research (e.g., optimization, control, statistics) use similar tools. These research communities, however, have distinct intellectual agendas and work on very different problems; by all being in “AI,” we obscure what progress is missing and what still remains to be solved, making it harder for institutions and society to choose how to invest wisely and effectively in research.

Mislabeling also hides the fact that a self-driving car requires more than just a good vision system. It will require roads and all kinds of additional infrastructure. Mislabeling hides the fact that,


even when we write that an “artificial intelligence” system recommends a diet [6], it is not AI that performs a study of gut microbiomes, measures their variety, evaluates insulin and sugar responses to different foods, nor even fits the model, which in this case, is a gradient-boosted decision tree [7]. This mislabeling also hides that machine learning should not be an end to itself: just getting people what they want faster (better ads, better search results, better movies, algorithms for more addictive “handles” in songs) does not make us better. What would make us better is a deep investment in real world problems, collaboration between methods scientists (ML researchers) and domain scientists, for instance, studying the persistent degradation of our oceans and recommending actions, or investigating susceptibility to and effective treatments for opioid addiction.

An important confusion Jordan addresses is the sense of over-achievement that the use of the term AI conveys. Bluntly, we do not have intelligent machines. We have many unsolved problems. We particularly applaud recognition that much progress is needed in terms of “inferring and represent- ing causality.” This is an area where the ingredients that have made AI very successful—trillions of examples, immense compute power, and fairly narrow tasks—have limited applicability. To recognize whether a cat is on an image or not, the machine does not reason. Rather, it does (so- phisticated) pattern matching. Pearl describes “the ability of imagining things that are not there” as distinctive characteristics of human reasoning, and he sees this counterfactual reasoning as the foundation of the ability of thinking causally; this is absent from the current predictive machine learning toolbox.

The role statistics can play

In contrast, counterfactual reasoning and imagining what is not there (yet might be) are not foreign to statistics. Statistics has grappled for many years with the challenge of searching for causal relations: emphasizing (sometimes stiflingly) how these cannot be deduced by simple asso- ciation, developing randomized trial frameworks, introducing the idea of “confounders.” Consider the Neyman-Rubin potential outcomes model, which effectively asks: what would have been my response, had I taken the treatment? Or the statistical approaches to estimate the unseen numbers of species, the “dark figure” of unrecorded victims of a certain crime. And more generally, the foundations of statistical inference build precisely out of the ability to imagine sample values you might obtain if you were to repeat an experiment or a data collection procedure. Recognizing how statistics incorporates this fundamental characteristic of human intelligence makes us think about its potential in accompanying the development of our data-laden society; we enumerate a few directions in which we think statistical reasoning is likely to be fruitful.

  1. Robustness: As systems based on data interface more and more with the world, it is important that we build them to be robust. It is not sufficient to achieve reasonable performance on a hold-out dataset. We would like to retain predictive power when circumstances are subject to reasonable changes. (Think of high profile failures: in 2015, software engineer Jacky Alcin ́e pointed out that the image recognition algorithms in Google Photos were classifying his black friends as “gorillas.”) Statistical reasoning and tools (for example, can we have “good enough” performance 99% of the time; can we be confident in our predictions; how confident are our predictions?) will be important.
  2. Validity of algorithmic inferences: Algorithmic techniques to infer patterns and structure have had exceptional success recently in many areas of practical value. They can also be important,


even revolutionary, for science in many areas. Data as divergent as social media interactions or satellite and drone images may provide vital results through such algorithms.

However, the scientific validity of the results cannot be assumed. Conventional concepts such as random sampling of the intended population are rarely relevant. A deeper understanding of the data sources and the computations applied will be essential. Jordan’s anecdote on the probability of Down Syndrome is telling in this regard: a carefully designed system, taking into account statistical uncertainty—in this case, Jordan himself—identified a major flaw. Surely, we cannot expect Jordan to come along every time we have a doctor’s appointment.

3. Fairness: Beyond the scientific validity of inferences, the use of algorithmic results to recommend practical actions raises important questions of equitable treatment. While humans differ in a variety of ways, as a society we tend to believe that individuals should be treated as equals, have freedom of opportunity, “stand in relations of equality to others” [1]. As we aspire to create automated decision rules, we need to make sure they incorporate this principle; we have just begun to think about the challenges here. While an “algorithm” may be automatic, following prescribed rules, and will apply an identical recipe to everyone, this notion of consistent treat- ment is only as good as the data that one uses to train it. We strive for equal opportunity, not “as good as things have been.” There is a growing understanding that biased data collection yields biased results: when more data is available from a particular social group, algorithms are likely to do better for this group, which can in turn lead to a vicious cycle of minority group abandonment [2], yielding ever more bias. Here, researchers in machine learning have begun to develop properties algorithms should satisfy to guarantee “equitable treatment;” the statistical calculus of uncertainty, robustness, conditioning, population (and sub-population) quantities, and prediction errors have important roles to play.

4. Privacy: Numerous high-profile failures of privacy—Homer and colleagues’ de-identification of study participants from microarray data [3], the canceling of the second Netflix prize because data was linked across multiple domains [4, 5]—highlight the challenges of large-scale data anal- yses. As computing moves ever closer to peripheral devices (watches, phones, smart appliances), more privacy concerns arise. Indeed, a major challenge in large-scale health and genetics studies is sharing data securely and privately. Yet given the potential positive impacts access to such data would have—better understanding of biological bases for disease, better energy allocation, emergency monitoring—it behooves us to develop a methodology around privacy and concomi- tant statistical analyses. While a sophisticated literature of algorithmic techniques under privacy constraints is growing, we believe more carefully integrated statistical reasoning is likely to yield tremendous benefits.

We can summarize the points above with a slogan: cross-validation is not enough. It is critical to carefully quantify our decision-making algorithms, their fairness, their real-world consequences, and their confidence and robustness in predictions. These challenges should be a clarion call for statistical thinking.

It is not just an engineering program: further clarity is needed

Jordan brings much clarity when he distinguishes human-imitative AI from other activities includ- ing ML, or when he explains why human-imitative AI has little to do with cybernetics, whose


“intellectual agenda has come to dominate in the current era.” After dismissing the idea of imi- tative AI as a guiding design principle—after all, we do not have feathered flapping airplanes—he suggests new disciplines of engineering around “Intelligence Augmentation” (IA) and “Intelligent Infrastructure” (II). (In passing, we personally appreciate the term Data Science as our ability to advance discovery, create new knowledge, and provide insights that suggest solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, as these will increasingly rely on our ability to learn from data.) Jordan names IA and II for what they are, helps us to recognize what is missing, and where progress needs to happen.

But of course, it is not just a matter of engineering. How AI, IA, II, and data sciences will develop and what our society will do with them depend on multiple aspects. Jordan’s piece touches at times on some of these larger questions; we selectively bring up a few here to emphasize the need both for these debates and greater clarity in these areas.

Jordan writes “humans are not very good at some kinds of reasoning.” Where do we go from here? What sorts of decisions should we outsource to algorithms? It seems important to qualify what we want computers to do and how we want to receive help to make decisions. The current AI framework compares our situation with that of many others and gives us an answer that seems best for “people like us.” Over time, this encourages us to be more like these other people, and erodes our individuality. There are domains where this might be appropriate; we do not care about a radiologist’s personal bend when interpreting an image, but desire the most accurate reading, as there is an underlying truth we seek. In other domains, this may not be the case. We have political opinions, but society cannot afford to have our personal beliefs be forever reinforced until different points of view are (to us) moral outrages. On the lighter side, there is no single food I should order tonight. However, if we let the machine make recommendations on the basis of a series of healthy eating parameters, religious restrictions, previous choices, cost considerations, and other “mood indicators,” we will be divided into a few disjoint groups eating monocultural food. We are malleable, gullible, and have a tendency to follow the crowd. The influence of the crowd via recommendation systems can be truly overpowering. Even if AI systems may allow us to avoid some mistakes, it is not clear that we want the machine to take over. Making choices is difficult and history is full of unfortunate attempts to abdicate to higher powers this defining human act. We need to cultivate this trait of ours, and keeping it exercised with simple tasks is generally a well proven strategy

Elsewhere, Jordan writes that we “must bring economic ideas such as incentive and prices into the realm of the statistical and computational infrastructure that link humans to each other and to valued goods.” Recently, the governor of California has stated that the state’s “consumers should also be able to share in the wealth that is created from their data.” We must have a debate about how individuals control the data they generate and who is entitled to monetize their value. A “free market” where each one is free to sell their own data is one of the options, but care must be taken, as markets often provide socially detrimental solutions when there are participants with very limited agency (as a single individual is likely to be here).

To make progress on these questions, we need the participation of many, and as statisticians and ML researchers, we have a limited perspective and are poorly equipped even to outline the challenges. Still, we wish to emphasize that the “engineers of AI, IA, II” must engage in these debates, just as geneticists participate in panels discussing the ethical implications of gene editing. We are uniquely


aware of the merit and limitations of these engineering feats, and we have the duty to make them transparent to all.


  1. [1]  E. Anderson. What is the point of equality? Ethics, 109(2):287–337, 1999.
  2. [2]  T. Hashimoto, M. Srivastava, H. Namkoong, and P. Liang. Fairness without demographics in repeated loss minimization. In Proceedings of the 35th International Conference on Machine Learning, 2018.
  3. [3]  N. Homer, S. Szelinger, M. Redman, D. Duggan, W. Tembe, J. Muehling, J. V. Pearson, D. A. Stephan, S. F. Nelson, and D. W. Craig. Resolving individuals contributing trace amounts of DNA to highly complex mixtures using high-density SNP genotyping microarrays. PLoS Genetics, 4(8):e1000167, 2008.
  4. [4]  S. Lohr. Netflix cancels contest after concerns are raised about privacy. The New York Times, 2010. URL https://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/13/technology/13netflix.html.
  5. [5]  R. Singel. Netflix cancels recommendation contest after privacy lawsuit. WIRED, March 12 2010. URL https://www.wired.com/2010/03/netflix-cancels-contest/.
  6. [6]  E. Topol. The A.I. diet. The New York Times, March 2 2019. URL https://www.nytimes. com/2019/03/02/opinion/sunday/diet-artificial-intelligence-diabetes.html.
  7. [7]  D. Zeevi, T. Korem, N. Zmora, D. Israeli, D. Rothschild, A. Weinberger, O. Ben-Yacov, D. Lador, T. Avnit-Sagi, M. Lotan-Pompan, J. Suez, J. A. Mahdi, E. Matot, G. Malka, N. Kosower, M. Rein, G. Zilberman-Schapira, L. Dohnalov ́a, M. Pevsner-Fischer, R. Bikovsky, Z. Halpern, E. Elinav, and E. Segal. Personalized nutrition by prediction of glycemic responses.Cell, 163(5):1079–1094, 2015.


Twitter Hot Tips: 8 Steps to Get More Twitter Followers


8 Steps to Get More Twitter Followers

Photo of the author, Brent Barnhart

by Brent Barnhart


“So, like, how many Twitter followers do you have?”

This question is a tempting one for brands to brush off, isn’t it?

Here’s the thing, though: you can’t dismiss your follower count on Twitter as a total vanity metric.

Not only does a higher follower count mean more influence in your industry, but also signals that your audience, leads and customers are interested in your content.

According to social media statistics, nearly half of all marketers cite Twitter as their go-to network for engaging with customers. Fast-moving and so simple to use, Twitter is arguably the easiest social following to grow from scratch.

But how do you get those followers in the first place?

How to Get More Twitter Followers in 8 Steps

In this quick guide, we’re going to break down exactly how to get more Twitter followers in 2018.

Here are our top 8 tips:

  1. Tweet frequently
  2. Optimize your posting time
  3. Post visual content
  4. Utilize hashtags
  5. Engage with replies, retweets and tags
  6. Create an inviting profile
  7. Identify followers within your network
  8. Draw in followers outside of Twitter

No bots, no spammy tactics. Just eight actionable steps you can take ASAP to attract valuable, flesh-and-blood followers. Whether you’re after more leads or just want to get the attention of big names in your industry, the following tips are totally fair game.

1. When in Doubt, Tweet More Often

Versus the likes of Facebook or Instagram, Twitter requires a more aggressive content strategy.

According to data by CoSchedule, the “sweet spot” is anywhere between three and seven tweets per day to maximize engagement. Some brands tweet as often as 15 or 20 times per day, though, so context and competitive analysis are important here.

But given how quickly the platform moves, brands can always err on the side of posting more often rather than being reserved.

The key is to not only promote yourself. The good news? The possibilities for filling up your content calendar are seemingly endless.

Tweets from your followers. Relevant industry articles. Buzzworthy stats. Breaking news. Personal updates. The list goes on and on.

Filling up your Twitter feed with fresh content lets potential followers know that you’re active, engaging, and well, worth following.

With the help of social scheduling software, you can regularly queue up content without having to constantly tweet in real-time. This effectively allows you to attract new followers around the clock.


2. Time Your Tweets to Perfection

And speaking of timing, blasting your tweets while your target audience is sleeping won’t help you gain new followers.

According to Sprout’s own research on the best times to post on social media, brands typically see the most engagement during weekdays in the early and late afternoons.


While these numbers might vary depending on your time zone and audience, timing your tweets can help your account gain some much-needed exposure.

Figuring out how to get more Twitter followers doesn’t mean sitting in front of the screen for nine hours a day, either. Ideally, brands should schedule tweets to hit the times where users are more active and tweet in real-time at intervals throughout the day as well.

Not sure of when you should Tweet? Sprout’s ViralPost automatically schedules your Tweets to be sent out when your audience is most likely to see and engage with them.


3. Post More Visual Content

As you probably know, tweets containing visual content receive more likes, shares and retweets than those without them.

As such, brands should strive to couple their tweets with some sort of accompanying image. Although there’s nothing inherently wrong with solely text-based tweets, images are better poised to stop serial scrollers and encourage them to take a look at your post.

Even something as simple as a colorful blog post preview like this one from Slack can do the trick:

Coupling your tweets with GIFs or memes has become common practice, as illustrated by Beardbrand:

Meanwhile, infographics are shared three times more often than any other type of image on Twitter. If you’ve got some compelling data to share with the world, go for it. Here’s a great example from Forbes:

And signaling the strength of video content marketing, this medium is six times more likely to be shared than a typical text-based tweet. Quick-how-to’s and listicle videos like this one from Hubspot are all the rage right now:

Whether you’re looking to inform or entertain your audience (or both), filling your feed with visual content can help bring new followers into the fold.

4. Harness Your Hashtags

Think of hashtags as a way to make your posts searchable, almost as a form of SEO for your Twitter account.

According to data and best practices on how to use hashtags, tweets with at least one hashtag receive 12.6% more engagement than those without them.


Tacking on a couple of hashtags to any given tweet is a quick way to increase the likelihood of new followers finding your account. Plus, doing so only takes a couple of seconds and there are plenty of hashtags to choose from.

For example, you can use industry hashtags such as #SEO or #contentmarketing which are ideal for your professional content. Here’s a good example of an effective single hashtag tweet:

And here’s an example of a tweet containing two industry hashtags which don’t distract from the content of the post:

To inject some personality into your feed and to avoid sounding too suit-and-tie, you can also play with popular community hashtags such as #MondayMotivation:

Additionally, you can piggyback on event-based hashtags as well (think: hashtags awards shows, sporting events and anything else topical):

The only caveat with hashtags is that you don’t want to go overboard. Posts brimming with hashtags look spammy at a glance and are otherwise distracting.

And besides, spamming isn’t necessary when you know which of your hashtags attract the most followers. By taking advantage of Twitter analytics, you can dig deeper into the top-performing tags for your particular brand.


5. Master the Arts of Tagging, Retweeting & Replying

Getting more followers on Twitter doesn’t have to be a time-sink: it just means making the most of the time you spend on the platform.

Sure, you can and totally should schedule tweets to optimize engagement. But at the same time, you don’t want your Twitter account to look like it’s completely run by bots.

You need to get in the trenches with your followers, customers and industry leaders alike. Regularly engaging with other users via tagging, retweeting and replying immediately lets new followers that you’re human and gets more eyes on your brand.

For starters, let’s say you’re replying to another brand’s tweet to try to get their attention. Writing out a detailed, thoughtful response will score you more potential followers than a brief one-word reply.

Another smart way to get other brands interested in your account is by shouting them out. Tagging other brands as a compliment is a popular tactic to show some love to others in your industry.

In turn, they might give you a shout out as well.

Likewise, being tagged in a tweet can help you tap into new audiences by understanding who else is sharing your content. If you want to be tagged by others, you should do the same yourself.

And despite only taking a couple of seconds, retweeting your fans and followers can help introduce you to new ones, too. Check out how much love oVertone‘s retweet of a customer received:


These small pieces of your content strategy contribute to the bigger picture of attracting followers. Any combination of tagging, retweeting and replying don’t have to take long but are essential to letting those potential followers know you’re active.

6. Optimize Your Profile for New Followers

Considering that up to 15% of tweets are suspected to be bots, brands need to do everything they can to prove they’re human. In addition to a diverse content strategy, there are a few subtle steps to make your profile friendlier to new followers.

Optimizing your profile involves three straightforward steps:

  • A clean profile photo. According to the psychology of social photos, an unobstructed facial photo is ideal if you aren’t using a high-res brand logo.
  • Relevant tags, industry keywords and location information. In short, your profile should be “complete” through describing what you do, your title, what companies you work with and where you operate.
  • A taste of your personality. Giving your followers a sense of who you are is always a plus.

Check out how Ann Handley‘s profile ticks all of these boxes:


Rand Fishkin has a similarly clean-cut profile, and also throws in a mention of how often he typically posts:


Brian Honigman not only has a sleek cover photo to boot, but also tags Forbes and NYU to boost his credibility:


Simply put, fine-tuning these pieces of your profile help guarantee a positive first impression with new followers.

7. Find Followers Within Your Network

Here’s a simple, straightforward tip for gaining some new followers and making yourself more visible in Twitter’s search in seconds.

If you’re like most people, you’re hesitant about uploading your contact list to any social network. However, syncing your contact list to Twitter can help you tap into your existing network of people most likely to follow you.


If your synced contacts are on Twitter, your account has a higher chance of showing up as a suggestion under the “Who to Follow” section. Depending on the size of your contact list, this can score you a lot of new followers with very little work on your part.

8. Funnel Followers from Beyond Twitter

The last piece of winning more Twitter followers means promoting your profile beyond the platform.

Let’s take a quick look at how Lootcrate advertises their Twitter account and other social profiles throughout their site and marketing campaigns.

For starters, they include a link to their social accounts on-site next to their opt-in form. There are tons of social button plug-ins out there via WordPress if you’re interested in doing the same:


They also include social buttons at the bottom of their marketing emails:


Oh, and they also have a link to their Twitter account tucked away in their Facebook “About” section:


Considering how commonplace Twitter is for marketers in general, there’s no shame in plastering your profile wherever you can to help encourage new followers.

And on a final note, Lootcrate also provides a good example of how bloggers can encourage readers to get in touch via Twitter. This is especially valuable if you frequently guest post on other sites and want to turn those one-time readers into long-term followers.


And that wraps up our list!

What Are You Doing to Grow Your Twitter Following?

Growing your Twitter following doesn’t happen by accident. A combination of planning your content, engaging with fellow users and optimizing your profile is key to attracting new followers.

If you’ve been struggling to figure out how to get more Twitter followers, start with these steps. Many of them only require a small commitment of time but can make all the difference in terms of new leads, customers and exposure for your brand.

And on that note, what kind of traction are you seeing on Twitter these days? Anything special you do to bring in new followers? Let us know in the comments below!

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Published on August 28, 2018

Brent Barnhart: Brent Barnhart is a professional writer and content critic. When he’s not battling the latest buzzwords, you can often find him strumming the nearest guitar. Feel free to bug him on Twitter or check out his website (brentwrites.com)