Critical Sustainability: New Geographies for STEM pedagogies as Social Action

Authors: Gabriela Alonso*, University of Calgary, Kurt Thumlert, York University- Toronto Canada
Topics: Geography Education, Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Sustainability Science
Keywords: Geographies of struggle, critical sustainability, STEM, geography education
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Astor Ballroom II, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Today, rationales for STEM education are often framed around concerns to meet emerging economic imperatives, and are often presented with entrepreneurial language, like ‘preparing students’ with the skills needed to succeed in an increasingly competitive and globalized 21st century, without a deeper problematization of the broader sociological and economic implications of these goals in educational reforms in Canada and globally. Consequently, STEM education initiatives may continue to separate science and technology education from the vital dramas, living controversies, and critical social and environmental justice issues of our time.

In contrast to instrumentalist values that often drive policy shifts in education, in this paper we resituate STEM learning within a critical framework of socio-environmental situations and geographies of struggle where critical questions about the workings of power, inequality, and the uneven access to resources emerge through critical inquiry, negotiation, situated action, and public knowledge-making (Alonso-Yanez, Thumlert, & de Castell, 2016). We explore critical sustainability as a dynamic field for teaching STEM content and competences grounded in real-world situations that affect students now, enabling them to think and act in redefining collective futures, and to participate in science and technology practices informed by and connected to matters of democratic governance

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