Human and non-human tensions in socioscientific issues and the oil sands in Canada


This commentary discusses SSIs in relation to environmental ethics. In their article, Augusto Macalalag Jr., Joseph Johnson and Michelle Lai note tensions between SSIs and environmental education and investigate educational experiences that address some of these tensions. The discourse associated with SSIs generally does not consider nature-centric ethics, which prioritize the sustenance of nature above any of the entities that are part of it, including humans. I will discuss education funded by oil and gas companies developing the oil sands in Canada, to examine different ethical positions embedded in this SSI. Discussion focuses on how the human and social implications of education development are often prioritized, without considering the environmental implications of accepting corporate funding for education. I argue that considering nature-centric ethical positions can more fully illuminate and inform decision making in educational development and SSIs more broadly.

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Correspondence to Darren Hoeg.

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This review essay addresses issues raised in Augusto Z. Macalalag, Joseph Johnson and Michelle Lai’s paper entitled: How do we do this: learning how to teach socioscientific issues (doi:

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Hoeg, D. Human and non-human tensions in socioscientific issues and the oil sands in Canada. Cult Stud of Sci Educ 15, 415–422 (2020).

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  • Environmental ethics
  • Anthropocentrism
  • Nature-centrism
  • Oil sands
  • Socioscientific issues