February 2023

Meeting the Directors: Wade Berger

As we begin 2023, MER would like to spend some time celebrating the wonderful people that we have the opportunity to work with. We asked each director to answer a series of questions to allow us to get to know them better.

Wade Berger (he/him) is a PhD Candidate at Northwestern University and studies how informal educators learn from and with each other. His interests include learning in small moments, interaction analysis methods, informal educator professional training, and the connective infrastructure of community-based learning. To do this work, he collaborates with educators at parks, museums, science centers, and after-school clubs. His work recognizes how these spaces are particularly poised to address anti-blackness, settler colonialism, anti-LGBTQ perspectives, deficit-mindsets, ableism, and the faults of capitalism within education.

Wade is an active member of the Chicago Learning Exchange, a visioning committee for the RESHAPE graduate student network, and recently joined a graduate chapter of Iota Phi Theta. He previously managed teen programs and created the Teen Learning Lab at the Shedd Aquarium. He has an M.S. from UW-Madison from the Games+Learning+Society group and started his career in learning as a high school social studies teacher. He has been a board member since 2022 and is currently the Interim Co-Chair of Communications.

Wade has combined the first three questions into one answer:

  • What made you want to join MER?
  • What are your dreams/goals for the organization during your tenure?
  • How does MER align with your personal and/or professional work?

I joined MER because of how the Journal of Museum Education brings together researchers, educators, and many others who support museum learning, and I hope that my work with the MER board helps to further bring these groups together. While museums have rocky histories of exclusion and inequality, I believe they also have simultaneously benefited from change pushed through by those committed to engaging with and for the communities around our museums. I feel that the MER community, with its diversity of backgrounds, identities, and perspectives, is critical to pushing for and sustaining more equitable learning experiences within museums. This aligns with my PhD work in the Learning Sciences where I study how museum educators learn from and with each other in ways which create new knowledge for the field.

How do you relax and recharge after a long day?
I spend as much time in nature as possible. During the summer months, I typically kayak for a few minutes everyday to unwind and reset. The rest of the year I try to spend some time each day hiking, biking or walking somewhere in nature.

Who is someone you look up to?
I am inspired by the work of Eve Ewing, who as an academic, writer, activist, and even in her personal life speaks on behalf of young people trying to learn in and out of schools in Chicago. I am impressed by her ability to bring ideas about education to so many outlets, including to her work writing Marvel’s Ironheart comics!