This page provides ideas and resources relating to sociopolitical actions that students can take to address socioscientific issues* (SSI); and, thereby improve the wellbeing of individuals, societies & environments (WISE). [*Note: In Ontario, and in some other places, these are called 'STSE' Issues.] These resources are based on the STEPWISE curriculum and instruction framework. If you have any comments, questions, etc. about this project or would like to join it, please contact me by email.
|Types of STSE
There are various ways that people can take STSE Actions. Some may be considered easier than others, but the figures below show them without indicating levels of difficulty:
depiction of types of STSE Actions is given
In theory, students should be able to choose which form(s) of action(s) to pursue. These projects are supposed to be student-directed and open-ended, so that they mimic such actions in citizenship. However, students often seem to choose to 'Educate Others' or, possibly, to 'Lobby Power-brokers.' Rarely do they choose aggressive measures, such as by blockading possible STSE problem situations (e.g., forming a human fence against developers' bulldozers). We do not condone violence. Indeed, recently, there seems to have been a movement to promote forms of action that are as positive (rather than critical or disruptive) as possible. Some people refer to this as 'bright green environmentalism (action).' In the model above, this could correspond to the 'Provide [positive!] Services' option. An excellent example of that is technologies based on 'fun theory.'
|Promoting STSE actions
Elements of the STEPWISE framework are designed to help students to become motivated and enabled to conduct STSE action projects. In other words, students' preparation for action can be enhanced if:
| The principles at left can be
implemented through the learning sequence below. This is
But, an essential aspect of this plan is the
'Research-informed STSE Action' assignment.
Some suggestions for implementing this
|Humanity is facing many
serious personal, social and environmental
problems that are associated with professional
science and technology and their products.
People are particularly concerned, for
example, about climate change - much of which
appears to be caused by human-generated
increases in atmospheric 'greenhouse gases'
(e.g., CO2), which block
release of heat from the earth. Some
suggest that the problem is so serious that
most life on Earth will be gone by about 2080!
If this is, indeed, likely, there would be few
other problems on which we must focus! A
teacher has prepared an interesting video
arguing for actions on Climate Change.
People are concerned with many other STSE
issues. Many of these relate to everyday
activities of people, such as problems with
manufactured foods, personal hygiene products,
forms of transportation, the kinds of homes in
which we live, etc. In terms of the STEPWISE framework,
STSE Problems are the negative aspects of STSE and NoST. An elaboration
of many of these problems is provided at: STSE Problems.
It is worth emphasizing, though, that many of
these problems appear to be related to
societies' extraction, processing, marketing,
consumption and disposal of various products
and services of business and industry. An
excellent summary of issues in this regard is
Story of Stuff.
||With so many significant
WISE issues, it seems clear that societies
must take more actions to address them. If
so, it also is clear that school students
must be encouraged and enabled to take such
actions - so that they may be prepared to
take actions as participating members of
democratic societies. This seems
particularly important in science education,
given the strong association between many
STSE problems and professional science and
technology and their products. Apart
from the seriousness of the potential
problems, we can justify encouraging students
to act on issues because of the many learning
benefits. Acting on plans may be considered a
form of field-testing the plans to determine
plans' merits. Acting on abstractions (e.g.,
plans) can deepen one's understanding and
commitment to elements of the plans - such as
the nature of science, knowledge involved in
the issues and the nature of relationships
among fields of science and technology and
societies and environments.
Action is a very personal matter for students, but there are some resources that may inform actions they take to improve WISE. Some of the links at right provide downloadable resources, while others take you to sites that provide information about action. A highly recommended book is:
Hodson, D. (2011). Looking to the future: Building a curriclum for social action. Dordrecht: Sense.