ESD starts where STEM stops : integrating the social sciences into STEM
Davis, Julie M. (2012) ESD starts where STEM stops : integrating the social sciences into STEM. In Lee, Kar-Tin (Ed.) 2nd International STEM in Education Conference, Beijing, China, pp. 177-183.
The Earth and its peoples are facing great challenges. As a species, humans are over-consuming the Earth’s resources and compromising the capacity of both natural and social systems to function in healthy and sustainable ways. Education at all levels and in all contexts, has a key role in helping societies move to more sustainable ways of living. Two areas in need of catch-up in relation to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) are early childhood education and teacher education. Another area of challenge for ESD is the way it is currently oriented. To date, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on scientific and technological solutions to sustainability issues. This has led to an emphasis on STEM education as education’s main way of addressing sustainability. However, in this paper it is argued that sustainably is primarily a social issue that requires interdisciplinary education approaches. STEM approaches to ESD - emphasising knowledge construction and problem-solving - cannot, on their own, deal effectively with attitudes, values and actions towards more sustainable ways of living. In China and Australia, there are already policies, frameworks, guidelines and initiatives, such as Green Schools and Sustainable Schools that support such forms of ESD. STEM educators need to reach out to social scientists and social educators in order to more fully engage with activist and collaborative educational responses that equip learners with the knowledge, dispositions and capacities to ‘make a difference’.
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