Skip to main content

K C Busch

Assoc Professor


Center for Technology and Inno 324


Dr. K.C. Busch (she/her) is an Assistant Professor of STEM Education at North Carolina State University, specializing in science learning and affiliated with the Leadership in Public Science interdisciplinary cluster. Her long-term career goal is to explore and advance educational experiences that empower individuals to engage in collective action to improve their lives and their communities.

Drawing on research from the fields of science communication and environmental psychology, Dr. Busch has investigated the language used to teach about climate change in educational settings, and how that framing affects youth perception of the problem and their capacity for creating solutions. She is co-founder of the Climate Change Education Collective.

Her current research is investigating the role of social relationships in learning using social network analysis. Through an NSF-funded CAREER grant, Dr. Busch is reconceptualizing scientific literacy at the community level, exploring how scientific information is used in communities to make decisions about climate change adaptation.


View all publications 


Date: 05/01/21 - 4/30/26
Amount: $901,466.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The goal of this EHR Core Research CAREER project is to develop an empirically- conceptual model and metrics for community level scientific literacy. Solutions to large-scale, collective problems require scientifically literate communities and necessitate expanding the conception and measurement of scientific literacy from an individual level to a community level.Three North Carolina coastal communities of place, faced with the need to make scientifically informed adaptation decisions to combat the effects of sea level rise, serve as bounded cases. A convergent mixed methods design is employed, in which qualitative and quantitative data collection and analyses are performed concurrently. In particular, this project uses qualitative research methods, including document analysis, observation, and interviews, to understand and describe the case contexts. Social network analysis (SNA) is used to quantitatively measure the features of community organization.

Date: 02/01/22 - 12/31/24
Amount: $119,995.00
Funding Agencies: NCSU Sea Grant Program

In this two year grant, we propose to synthesize a decade of Sea Grant funded environmental literacy research into a scalable curricular framework that fosters coastal resiliency through youth-led conversations. In year one, we will form a curriculum advisory board (CAB) of teachers, students, and community partners. The CAB will work to construct a curricular framework that draws on best practices for youth-led environmental learning and builds community-level environmental literacy around coastal resiliency. The CAB will then recruit a cadre of classroom teachers to help pilot the framework, allowing for both formative and summative evaluation of the framework. We will then hold a culminating workshop to synthesize lessons learned and prepare the framework to export to other communities through larger regional and/or national grant efforts.

Date: 10/01/19 - 9/29/23
Amount: $356,750.00
Funding Agencies: Institute of Museum & Library Services

Through a collaboration between the NC Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS) and NC State University (NCSU), the goal of this proposed Building Capacity, research-in-service-of-practice project is to develop and foster a Community of Practice (CoP) for collective evaluation among a set of 54 non-formal science museums across the state of North Carolina. Programs at science museums have the capacity to contribute to a variety of informal learning outcomes across diverse populations, increasing knowledge and understanding of science as well as broader science literacy. Evaluation provides concrete evidence regarding the degree to which an educational program is working to achieve these goals, thus informing important decisions regarding further design, development, and implementation. However, despite these benefits, evaluation is not widely utilized across the field of informal science education. Many non-formal science education entities conduct programs without knowing if they are working and, perhaps more importantly, without identifying what they are trying to achieve. Over three years, a series of regional professional development workshops and subsequent program evaluations will: 1) create a shared sense of purpose for programming and evaluation, 2) build capacity among science museum educators to conduct evaluation for their programs, and 3) establish a set of common metrics and methodologies for collective evaluation across the state and beyond. In addition, as the concept of collective evaluation is relatively new in museum programming and informal learning, evaluation efforts from this project will contribute to the scholarship of informal learning research and evaluation. In addition to evaluation of the project using the IMLS??????????????????s Building Capacity Performance Measure Statements, project success will be evaluated through mixed methods measurement of the achievement of defined project outcomes: 1) Increased perception of a common agenda among informal science education museums across the state of NC, 2) Increased use of common metrics across informal science education museums across the state of NC, 3) Increased capacity to conduct program evaluation within NC science museums, and 4) Increased levels of collaboration among informal science education museums across the state of NC.

Date: 02/01/20 - 12/31/22
Amount: $119,998.00
Funding Agencies: NCSU Sea Grant Program

Developing solutions to large-scale, collective coastal challenges requires environmentally literate communities. In order to achieve this, we need to further conceptualize and design associated measurements of environmental literacy (EL) that focus on communities rather than individuals. The questions become not how individuals understand and interact with the world around them, but how communities share information, understandings, and associated action plans. To date, few, if any, have developed definitions or associated metrics to assess or benchmark progress toward community-level EL. Further, child-based environmental education (EE) is a promising, but understudied, strategy to build community-level EL. Children have been shown to foster EL among adults, particularly among those who may be most resistant to engaging with environmental topics. Given that school-based EE can reach a large proportion of adults in communities through their children and that children can effectively engage adults in environmental issues, school-based EE may be an effective strategy to build shared understandings, motivations and action strategies (i.e., community-level EL). Accordingly, this project will work toward two objectives. We will first conduct an online DELPHI study, a structured communication technique, to develop definitions and measurements of community-level EL. Next, we will train 30 middle and high school teachers in a citizen-science and school-based EE program around water quality that is specifically designed to build community-level EL through intergenerational learning. We will test how this curriculum boosts both individual and community-level EL among students, teachers, parents, and community members across the state of North Carolina.

Date: 03/01/20 - 8/31/22
Amount: $49,850.00
Funding Agencies: Spencer Foundation

We will convene 25-30 junior and senior scholars from a variety of academic fields to summarize, develop and advance research agendas in the emerging area of climate change education. We will convene a conference that will provide formal and informal opportunities for participants to network and engage in interdisciplinary dialogue. We will also invite scholars from outside educational research in particular fields that carry relevance for educational studies (e.g., anthropology, psychology, communications, climate science, sociology). Scholars will represent four germane strands of inquiry: 1) teaching, learning and curricula, 2) educational contexts and policies, 3) philosophical foundations, and 4) citizenship and climate justice. Given the social complexity of the issue, we give special attention to participants?????????????????? diverse theoretical, axiological, conceptual and methodological approaches, as well as their social and cultural backgrounds. We also focus on the interdisciplinary and intergenerational nature of this issue and are inviting both junior and senior scholars accordingly.

Date: 01/01/20 - 6/30/22
Amount: $29,626.00
Funding Agencies: Pisces Foundation

Pisces Foundation has invited Charlotte Clark from Duke University and colleagues to submit an addendum to an ongoing effort to study collective evaluation efforts across the field of environmental education. The NC State team has been asked to characterizing the landscape of collective evaluation in EE beyond our case studies. This will include sleuthing out candidate networks, developing a relationship with a leader in that network, and documenting their work using an interview guide collaboratively developed with the Duke team. Work may also include creating a social network analysis of collaboratives engaging in collective evaluation, led by KC Busch. In addition, Kathryn Stevenson will co-chair the Promising Practices Working Group, which will include preparation time and calls/virtual meetings, as well as other tasks as needed.

Date: 02/01/18 - 6/30/21
Amount: $119,998.00
Funding Agencies: NCSU Sea Grant Program

Numerous coastal environmental challenges including salt water intrusion, marine debris, and water quality threaten North Carolina??????????????????s (NC) coastal and estuarine ecosystems. Associated scientific recommendations abound but deficiencies in environmental literacy (EL), and failure to use scientific knowledge in environmental decision making stymie local efforts to employ solutions. Environmental education (EE) among K-12 audiences may address these barriers, as it can build EL among future generations and emerging research suggest that these impacts may ????????????????trickle up??????????????? to parents, community members, and even decision makers if programs are designed with that goal in mind. For this project, we will partner with Duke University Marine Lab to scale up two citizen science-based EE projects currently being piloted through NSF support. Each of these projects is specifically designed to enhance intergenerational transfer. We will expand the projects to 30 middle grade classrooms across the CAMA counties and experimentally test impacts on knowledge of and engagement with coastal environmental challenges, environmental self-efficacy, and pro-environmental behavior among students; and increased salience of coastal environmental issues in the eyes of decision makers and community members with whom students engage.

View all grants