Social Justice Pedagogies and Scientific Knowledge: Remaking Citizenship in the Non-Science Classroom
Lehr, Jane L
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This dissertation contributes to efforts to rethink the meanings of democracy, scientific literacy, and non-scientist citizenship in the United States. Beginning with questions that emerged from action research and exploring the socio-political forces that shape education practices, it shows why non-science educators who teach for social justice must first recognize formal science education as a primary site of training for (future) non-scientist citizens and then prepare to intervene in the dominant model of scientifically literate citizenship offered by formal science education. This model of citizenship defines (and limits) appropriate behavior for non-scientist citizens as acquiescing to the authority of science and the state by actively demarcating science from non-science, experts from non-experts, and the rational from the irrational. To question scientific authority is to be scientifically illiterate. This vision of 'acquiescent democracy' seeks to end challenges to the authority of science and the state by ensuring that scientific knowledge is privileged in all personal and public decision-making practices, producing a situation in which it becomes natural for non-scientist citizens to enroll scientific knowledge to naturalize oppression within our schools and society. It suggests that feminist and equity-oriented science educators, by themselves, are unable or unwilling to challenge certain assumptions in the dominant model of scientifically literate citizenship. Therefore, it is the responsibility of non-science educators who teach for social justice to articulate oppositional models of non-scientist citizenship and democracy in their classrooms and to challenge the naturalized authority of scientific knowledge in all aspects of our lives. It demonstrates how research in the field of Science & Technology Studies can serve as one resource in our efforts to intervene in the dominant model of scientifically literate citizenship and to support a model of democracy that encourages the critical engagement of and opposition to scientific knowledge and the state.
- Doctoral Dissertations