This article offers a general framework for examining the science dimension of controversial socioscientific issues. Eight specific content-transcending topics to be emphasized in science education are proposed. The topics are grouped under the headings science as a social process, limitations of science, values in science, and critical attitude. Each topic is explored, and it is argued that knowledge of the topics can serve as tools for students' examination of science-related claims in controversial socioscientific issues. The underlying perspective here is empowerment and the needs of students as lay people. The need of society as a whole for decisions to be made on a broad and firm basis is nevertheless also included. The main reason for suggesting the eight content-transcending topics is to provide focal points for the future development of teaching models aimed at science education for citizenship. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Sci Ed85:291–310, 2001.