Critical and Active Public Engagement in Addressing Socioscientific Problems Through Science Teacher Education

Part of the Contemporary Trends and Issues in Science Education book series (CTISE, volume 52)


During the current so-called anthropocene epoch, earth’s biotic and abiotic systems appear to be facing numerous existential threats linked to fields of science and technology (S&T)—including, for example, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes associated with manufactured foods and immense dislocation and suffering from human-generated climate change. Meanwhile, small fractions of societies are increasingly concentrating wealth and wellbeing. Given severity and persistence of such problems, along with significant culpability of powerful individuals and groups, it seems clear that general populations must become more critical of processes and products of S&T fields and, where they perceive harms, be prepared to develop and implement actions to address them. In light of its roles in selecting potential S&T workers and others about such fields, science education programmes could significantly contribute to development of more critical and action-oriented citizenry. Through the ‘STEPWISE’ programme outlined here, it seems clear many teachers have had some ‘successes’ in this regard. On the other hand, implementation of STEPWISE-related perspectives and practices appear relatively confined to unique contexts. Accordingly, in this chapter, through our collaborative case study of our earlier action research projects with three science educators in different educational contexts, we provide some insights into living, nonliving and symbolic entities that educators and others may find relevant (likely among many others) in working to assemble networks of entities (dispositifs) that may be conducive to critical and action-oriented science education in particular situations.


Socioscientific issues Critical and activist science education Dispositifs Teacher practice Ecojustice 



True to our adherence to actor-network theory and the dispositif concept, content of this chapter should be seen as an amalgamation of myriad living, nonliving and symbolic actants. Symbolically, for instance, this work is driven by various senses of injustice. Meanwhile, the extent to which this chapter deals with them seems connected to multiple technologies, animate and inanimate. Integrated into all of these, however, we are extremely grateful to long-term commitments to this project by the three teachers highlighted in this study (Nurul Hassan, Mirjan Krstovic & Tomo Nishizawa) and numerous others over about the last decade and knowledge-generation assistance from many graduate students who have been part of this project at various times.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.OISE, University of TorontoTorontoCanada

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