Teach and engage others to participate in questioning and shaping the direction of scientific and social changes

(Fourth and last in a series on "Teaching about scientific and political change in times of crisis")


A Collaborative Exploration (CE) in which participants consider ways to "Teach and engage others to participate in questioning and shaping the direction of scientific and social changes" at the same time as we explore and share emerging theory and research to inform and improve "Teaching about scientific and political change in times of crisis." In particular, we might chew on whether we have working under an outdated progressive imaginary about citizen engagement in science working with developments in social institutions to provide for the welfare of the populace.
  • In brief, CEs are an extension of Problem- or Project-Based Learning (PBL) and related approaches to education in which participants address a scenario or case in which the problems are not well defined, shaping their own directions of inquiry and developing their skills as investigators and prospective teachers (in the broadest sense of the word). (For more background, read the prospectus.)
  • If you want to know what a CE requires of you, review the expectations and mechanics.
    • on hangout for 1 hour/week in last full week of April and 3 weeks into May at date and time TBA to match applicant's schedules. The URL for the first hangout will be provided only to those who register (via http://bit.ly/CEApply), which entails making a commitment to attend that 1st session and at least 2 of the other 3 hangouts.
  • If you are wondering how to define a meaningful and useful approach to the topic, let us present a scenario for the CE and hope this stimulates you to apply to participate. We will then let CE participants judge for themselves whether their inquiries are relevant.
  • Intended outcomes for participants of this CE are of two kinds:
    • a) tangible: a curriculum unit or other resources to help teach and engage students and members of surrounding communities to participate in questioning and shaping the direction of scientific and social changes (where such changes could include health as well as environmental issues) OR a precis or thought-piece about theory and research to inform and improve "teaching about scientific and political change in times of crisis"; and
    • b) experiential: being impressed at how much can be learned with a small commitment of time using the CE structure to motivate and connect participants.

Applications are sought from teachers, researchers, graduate students, and activists who want to think more about the CE topic in relation to the theme of the series. Newcomers and return participants are welcome.
(Additional CEs in the series: Jan-Feb, Feb-Mar, Mar-Apr 2018)
Scenario
Some years ago a multi-disciplinary group of UMass Boston professors found themselves discussing their concerns about a range of somewhat related topics: CO2 increases and Arctic ice decreases were reported as greater than the most pessimistic predictions of the IPCC; funding of science and technology research seem increasingly tied to direct payoffs for economic growth; environmentalists are divided about whether to join forces with industry groups to promote technological initiatives that might address climate change or to push for wider democratic debate about how society responds to environmental issues. This wide-ranging exchange led to discussion about how to prepare students to be informed participants in debates about the direction(s) that science and technology take in this era of global climate and environmental change.

Imagine then that this group has charged us with preparing a curriculum unit or other resources to help teach and engage students and members of surrounding communities to participate in questioning and shaping the direction of scientific and social changes (where such changes could include health as well as environmental issues). If teaching anytime soon seems unlikely, you may want to assemble available syllabi connected to your angle, or examples of university-community co-teaching/learning around science issues, or case studies, web sites, and so on. You might instead develop a pilot process for community engagement (such as a "public conversation," "stake-holder meeting," blog, and so on).

One last consideration: Academic institutions these days emphasize that "learning outcomes" must be spelled out and evaluated. The description of your unit or activities should, therefore, include a Reflection at the end that conveys the ways in which the unit or activity demonstrates your attention to the three broad goals for teaching about scientific and political change:
  • To learn about analyses of the political influences on the development of science and technology, and, reciprocally, of influences of such developments on political processes and possibilities;
  • To re-engage with yourselves as avid learners and inquirers; and
  • To organize resources that prepare you to teach and engage students and members of the relevant communities to participate in questioning and shaping the direction of scientific and social changes.