“Why Trust Science and Science Education?”
Public debates around issues such as climate change and vaccination have put into question the public trust in science (Oreskes, 2019). Some science education researchers have adopted positions that science is fundamentally shaped by ideology (Mackenzie, Good, & Brown, 2014). The emerging lines of research in science and science education have been based on claims that science suffers from a systematic bias through sexism, racism, capitalism, colonialism and other ideological interests. The methodological approaches such as ethnomethodology, deconstructionism and critical theory have mediated the propagation of such lines of research along with showcasing of historical case studies of misuse of and abuse by science in society.
In the broad context of social justice causes including efforts to combat structural racism and sexism, such framing of science as an oppressive endeavour would appear to garner support. Yet, the explanatory and predictive power of scientific knowledge as well as contributions of science to society, are undeniable, as evidenced by the current anticipation of an effective vaccine to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
Science has a history of not only contributing to society, for instance, through medical and technological innovations but also through rational and evidence-based debate on social issues. In the post-truth era where the legitimacy of expertise and evidence-based claims are increasingly eroded, the consequences of science denial can be fatal. For example, climate change denial is likely to lead to a planetary emergency where the natural world and the environment will suffer an irreversible destruction.
The complex interaction between science and society points to some key tensions: tensions between uncertainty in scientific knowledge versus the capacity to build powerful explanatory and predictive models; tensions between democratic values versus undemocratic decision-making given priority of evidence; tensions between science as an economics-driven enterprise versus a knowledge-driven enterprise.
At a time when science education needs to instil in future citizens robust evidence-based reasoning skills for the sake of social and planetary justice, how can such tensions be reconciled? The Editors of Science & Education invite papers that address this fundamental question through theoretical and empirical studies in a special issue with the theme of “Why Trust in Science and Science Education?”. Some example themes that papers can explore are the following:
Why should science be trusted? How is trust established in scientific communities? How can science education foster trust in science? For example, what examples of curricula are available that support trust in science and what impact do they have on science teaching and learning? How can science learning environments be shaped to acknowledge the power and the limitations of science? What evidence is there that such learning environments improves students’ understanding of and engagement with science? Can approaches based on critiques of science help students appreciate evidence-based discussions, contribute to their understanding of policy-debates, and the need for scientifically informed regulatory practices? If so, how? If science is inherently oppressive (ie. sexist, racist, imperial), how can it be salvaged from its exploitative nature and legacy? How can learning environments be designed to foster understanding of how science should work? What role can informal and non-formal learning environments play in educating the public about why and when trust in science is warranted? How do the political landscapes of different nations and communities foster public trust or mistrust in science? What are some examples from history of science as well as contemporary science? What implications do they present for education?
About the Journal
Science & Education publishes research using historical, philosophical, and sociological approaches in order to improve teaching, learning, and curricula in science and mathematics. In addition, the journal disseminates accounts of lessons, units of work, and programs at all levels of science and mathematics that have successfully utilized history and philosophy. The journal promotes the inclusion of history and philosophy of science and mathematics courses in science and mathematics teacher education programs. Moreover, it promotes the discussion of the philosophy and purpose of science and mathematics education and their place in and contribution to the intellectual and ethical development of individuals and cultures. To achieve its goals, Science & Education fosters collaboration among an interdisciplinary group of scholars including scientists, mathematicians, historians, philosophers, cognitive psychologists, sociologists, science and mathematics educators, and school and university teachers.
Deadline for submission of papers: April 30th, 2021
Instructions for the preparation and submission of manuscripts can be accessed at the following website:
Mackenzie J., Good R., & Brown J.R. (2014). Postmodernism and science education: an appraisal. In, M. Matthews (Eds), International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching. Dordrecht: Springer.
Oreskes, N. (2019). Why trust science? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.