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Keywords:

  • globalization;
  • science;
  • education;
  • neoconservative;
  • neoliberal;
  • activism

Abstract

It is apparent that many of us live in a hyper-economized world, in which personal identities and routine practices are significantly oriented towards production and consumption of for-profit goods and services. Extreme consumerism resulting from this orientation often is associated with many personal, social, and environmental problems. Implicated as an agent, among many, in this problematic hyper-economized process is science education. Briefly, our literature reviews suggest that, under influences from apparently hegemonic forces of neoconservatism and neoliberalism, school science often functions to generate knowledge producers, including engineers, scientists and other theoretical workers—who, in turn, may develop and manage mechanisms of production of goods and services on behalf of global economic elite. At the same time, it also is apparent that school science generates a large class of citizens who are prepared, essentially, to serve as consumers—both in terms of faithfully following labor instructions from the aforementioned knowledge producers (who may be accountable mainly to their financiers) and also enthusiastically engaging in repeating cycles of consumption of goods and services. Such a use of education seems undemocratic, at the very least, and highly problematic, assuming an association between school science and many personal, social, and environmental problems. To perhaps bring about a more just and sustainable world, we offer a theoretical framework, along with a more pragmatic version of it, for organizing science and technology education in many contexts. Although based on principles like holism, altruism, realism, egalitarianism, and dualism that we suggest may help school science generate a citizenry willing and able to proactively contribute to the common good, we also urge readers to use it as a basis for further research and development. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., Inc. J Res Sci Teach 48: 648–669, 2011