Anti-capitalist/Pro-communitarian Science & Technology Education

Larry Bencze, Steve Alsop

Abstract


Many of us live in a hyper-economized world, in which personal identities and routine practices aresignificantly oriented towards production and consumption of for-profit goods and services. Extremeconsumerism appears to be strongly associated with many personal, social and environmental problems. It isapparent that professional science and science education help facilitate this problematic hypereconomization.Briefly, science education tends to emphasize generation of knowledge producers, includingengineers, scientists and other symbolic analyzers — who, in turn, develop and manage mechanisms ofproduction of goods and services. At the same time, fields of professional science (e.g., via data-mining andmarketing) and science education (e.g., via guided discovery inquiries) orient citizens towards habits ofunquestioning and enthusiastic consumption of goods and services. Central to this system of problematic forprofithyper-consumerism appear to be epistemological and ethical considerations. Science, for example,often is seen — largely misleadingly — as a very systematic and decontextualized process generating highlyeffective and unproblematic products/services that can contribute greatly to individuals’ wellbeing. In thispaper, we counter these epistemological and ideological stances through argumentative support — partlythrough summaries of two educational case studies (Science and the City and STEPWISE) — forcommunitarianism. Under this philosophy, knowledge is seen as historically and temporally complex, perhapsleading us to a communalist (if not altruistic) ethical position with regards to the wellbeing of individuals,societies and environments. Ramifications of these positions for science education may include: Equity,Diversity, Holism, Breadth, Depth, Empowerment, Self-determination, Enlightenment, and Responsibility.

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