Journal of Science Teacher Education

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 357–371 | Cite as

Troubling STEM: Making a Case for an Ethics/STEM Partnership

  • Astrid Steele


Set against the backdrop of a STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activity in a teacher education science methods class, the author examines the need for ethics education to be partnered with STEM education. To make the case, the origin of the STEM initiative, undertaken and strongly supported by both US government and corporate sources, is briefly recounted. The STSE initiative (science, technology, society and environment) is posited as a counterpoint to STEM. Also considered are: (a) an historical perspective of science and technology as these impact difficult individual and social decision making; (b) STEM knowledge generation considered through the lens of Habermas’ threefold knowledge typology; and (c) the experiences of the teacher candidates working through the STEM activity when an ethical challenge is posed. The author demonstrates the need for a moral component for science education and makes the case for a partnership between STEM and ethics education. Further, such a partnership has been shown to increase student enjoyment and motivation for their science studies. Three possible ethical frameworks are examined for their theoretical and practical utility in a science classroom.


STEM STSE Science teacher education Ethics education 


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Copyright information

© The Association for Science Teacher Education, USA 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Schulich School of EducationNipissing UniversityNorth BayCanada

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