Network science is a significant pathway into understanding many kinds of Big Data. Since its inceptions during the late 20th century it has been increasing its relevance to people's everyday life. Networks can help us to make sense of this increasingly complex world, making it a useful literacy for people living in the 21st century.

Recent work involving interventions directly with middle and high school students and teachers in developing network science skills in informal and student research settings has demonstrated that network science can be a powerful and motivating approach to understanding and theorizing solutions to complex social, health and environmental problems. Network science research also provides opportunities to develop many of the skills, habits of mind and core ideas from nascent teaching and learning standards that are not being addressed in extant curricula and teaching practice. There is a need for curricula, resources and professional development about networks, and the network science community needs to take the first steps in making a societal impact by developing accessible educational materials, tools and techniques.

To initiate this process, one key question was posed to the network science community: What should every person living in the 21st century know about networks by the time they finish secondary education? The result presented here -- Network Literacy: Essential Concepts and Core Ideas -- is truly a group effort, representing the distillation of the thoughts, comments, and writings of over 30 network science researchers, educators, teachers and students.


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