Special Issue Learning and Teaching in Times of Science Denial and Disinformation

Special Issue Editors: K.C. Busch & Doug Lombardi

Contemporary challenges—such as climate change, food, energy and water security, and deadly virus transmission—call for all people to think critically and scientifically. These challenges are often complex and interrelated; for example, society’s increasing demand for energy contributes to the climate crisis, which in turn, could limit freshwater and food supplies, and contribute to worldwide spread of disease (Al-Saidi & Hussein, 2021; Lombardi, 2022). While many societal challenges are seriously impacting local, regional and global communities, an increasing availability of information has contributed to what many call a “Post-Truth Era,” where emotions and personal beliefs override scientifically-validated evidence and explanations, and create an atmosphere of distrust and discord (McIntyre, 2018). Scientific and technological advances have a responsibility in ushering in the current science denial era by facilitating the virtually instantaneous and worldwide transmission of information, including information’s maladaptive and nefarious form: disinformation (Wardle & Derakhshan, 2017). Scientific thinking, learning, and teaching are severely tasked by this treacherous situation of science denial and disinformation (Allchin, 2022; Osborne et al., 2022; Sinatra & Hofer, 2021).

Science denial and disinformation are also a worldwide danger to democracy. Over the past several decades, purveyors of science denial and disinformation have honed their crafts by rejecting scientific consensus on such things as tobacco-related health impacts and causes of current climate change (McIntyre, in press). This has created an environment where expertise and justice are rejected via mistrust, where deep and growing political polarizations threaten to thwart understanding of how science and science education can promote a common good (Feinstein & Waddington, 2020). Denial and disinformation about relevant and meaningful socioscientific issues have emerged from disordered identities and values (Gorman & Gorman, 2021). The techniques of science denial have been used to suppress voting rights, community collaboration, and human agency exacerbating inequalities and tensions across racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic lines; ultimately putting in question the world’s centuries-long experiment in self-governance and granting fundamental human rights to all people (McIntyre, in press). No single challenge is more urgent than addressing and guarding against these threats to scientific understanding and agency.

In response, the Journal of Research in Science Teaching (JRST) is issuing a call for papers for a Special Issue focusing on research related to learning and teaching in times of science denial and disinformation. In particular, the special issue will aim to focus on meaningful work around science learning teaching and science education policy in the context of media (e.g., social) and information literacy. The special issue editors invite a variety of manuscript types, and offer some areas for consideration that submitted manuscripts might address, though certainly should not be limited to:

  • impacts of science denial and disinformation, framed within the context of media and information literacy and related to science education contexts
  • children’s, adolescent’s, and adult’s (including, students, teachers, administrators, and policymakers) worldviews, values, attitudes, beliefs, and/or knowledge framed around media and information literacy about scientific topics
  • scientific thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving when immersed in media- and information-rich contexts
  • measures, methodologies, and interventions to gauge and promote collaboration, equity, and agency to productively address science denial and disinformation at local, regional, and global scales
  • relations between the individual, social, and cultural contexts in science education that promote or hinder scientific and digital literacy, understanding, meaning-making, and action in response to science denial, including student-led activism and agency to mitigate and adapt to disinformation
  • children, adolescents, and adults (including students, teachers, administrators, and policymakers) coping with scientific topics presented in various media forms (e.g., television, radio, podcasts, social platforms)
  • critical approaches to disinformation studies, which center the role of power and systemic inequality in shaping science learning and educational efforts

The review process for the special issue will take place in two stages. In Stage 1, authors will submit an extended abstract that describes key dimensions of the proposed manuscript, including a summary of the manuscript’s approach (conceptual analysis, philosophical inquiry, quasi-experimental study, case study, historical analysis, etc.), as well as findings and implications. This extended abstract should not exceed 1,000 words (references, tables, and figures are not subject to the word limit). The special issue guest editors will review the extended abstracts submitted in order to invite full manuscript submissions. The review will be guided by the potential of proposed manuscripts to be relevant, advance understanding of science teaching and learning, and have substantial impacts on the field, which are standard criteria for all JRST reviews. We solicit manuscripts based upon empirical data—qualitative, quantitative, or mixed—situated in classrooms, communities and/or informal learning environments, or that offer important theoretical or conceptual insights for the field of science education. In addition to these basic criteria, the guest editors will consider the extent to which manuscripts do one or more of the following: (1) extend in new directions the current work on science education during conditions of science denial and disinformation, (2) introduce new perspectives, conceptual or methodological, from other fields to the corpus of science education literature on learning and teaching in times of science denial and disinformation, and (3) inform policy by on ways to promote effective learning, teaching, and agency when confronted with science denial and disinformation. 


Submission Deadline for Extended Abstracts: February 1, 2023

Issue Date for Manuscript Invitations: March 15, 2023

Submission Deadline for Invited Manuscripts: September 15, 2023

Submission Guidelines

Submissions of both extended abstracts and manuscripts should follow the publication guidelines for the Journal of Research in Science Teaching and be submitted electronically to Manuscript Central (http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/jrst). In the submission interface, Step 4: Details & Comments, select “Yes” for the Special Issue option, and then select “Science Denial and Disinformation” as the special issue title.

For the Stage 1 submission of an Extended Abstract, (1) Leave BLANK the abstract text box found in submission Step 1: Type, Title and Abstract, and (2) Upload the Extended Abstract as a file in submission Step 5: File Upload, labeling it as a “Main Document” in the File Designation pull-down menu.

Inquiries concerning the suitability of possible contributions to this special issue should be addressed to one of the Guest Editors via email (see above). If you choose to use the Journal’s email address (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for your message, please begin your message by identifying both the Science Denial and Disinformation Special Issue and the Editor(s) you would like your inquiry to reach.


Allchin, D. (2022). Ten competencies for the science misinformation crisis. Science Education. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.21746

Al-Saidi, M., & Hussein, H. (2021). The water-energy-food nexus and COVID-19: Towards a systematization of impacts and responses. Science of the Total Environment, 779, 146529. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146529

Feinstein, N. W., & Waddington, D. I. (2020). Individual truth judgments or purposeful, collective sensemaking? Rethinking science education’s response to the post-truth era. Educational Psychologist, 55(3), 155-166. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2020.1780130

Gorman, S. E., & Gorman, J. M. (2021). Denying to the grave: Why we ignore the science that will save us. Oxford University Press.

Lombardi, D. (2022). Climate crisis mitigation and adaptation: educational and developmental psychology’s responsibility in helping face this threat. Educational and Developmental Psychologist, 39(1), 1-4. https://doi.org/10.1080/20590776.2021.2012834

McIntyre, L. (2018). Post-truth. MIT Press.

McIntyre, L. (in press). Truth killers. MIT Press.

Osborne, J., Pimentel, D., Alberts, B., Allchin, D., Barzilai, S., Bergstrom, C., ... & Wineburg, S. (2022). Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation-funded working group report: Science education in an age of misinformation. Stanford University. https://policycommons.net/artifacts/2434623/science_education_in_an_age_of_misinformation/3456215/

Sinatra, G. M., & Hofer, B. K. (2021). Science denial: Why it happens and what to Do about it. Oxford University Press.

Wardle, C., & Derakhshan, H. (2017). Information disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policymaking. Council of Europe. https://rm.coe.int/information-disorder-towardan-interdisciplinary-framework-for-researc/168076277c

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