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Abstract

We contend that science education should be multicultural. We do not believe a universalist view of science is either compatible with a multicultural approach or fully coherent as a foundation for the science curriculum. We begin by summarizing the case for a universalist approach to science education. We then show weaknesses of universalism in accounting for the following: 1. the limits of human cognitive capabilities in constraining what we can understand about nature; 2. a description of reality as a flux; 3. the disunity of science and the role of culturally different forms and social organization of research in shaping the cognitive content of the sciences. We argue that it would be valuable for students to understand the nature of the debates regarding multicultural and universalist perspectives on science. For example, what questions is contemporary molecular biology good at answering? What kinds of problems do other sciences solve? What historical conditions may explain why western sciences arose primarily out of Western European culture rather than elsewhere in the world? How do other belief systems (e.g., religion) interact with indigenous sciences, Chinese science, and Western science? © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Sci Ed85:35–49, 2001.