Multiculturalism, Universalism, and Science Education: In Search of Common Ground

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Abstract

Multiculturalism's proper place in science education has been the subject of considerable controversy in the recent science education literature. It is the theme of a recent symposium in this journal, which raises and treats a wide range of issues with important ramifications for science education. A key issue-and the one on which I focus-is whether (and if so to what extent) a multicultural approach to science education is compatible with a "universalist" conception of science. My main aim is to show that there is actually much more agreement between "universalists" and multicultural "localists" concerning that compatibility than might be apparent at first glance. A second aim is to defend the former from criticisms made in the symposium papers. I first attempt to make clear what "universalism" does, and does not, involve. I then explore the justification of multicultural science education, and suggest both that that justification is moral (rather than epistemological) in nature; and that if science education is indeed obliged to embrace multiculturalism, that obligation must itself be understood to be a culturally transcendent one. Finally, I address several curricular issues treated in the symposium papers. The overall conclusion is that the most defensible conception of science education is one in which it is conceived to be both multicultural and universal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)803-820
Number of pages18
JournalScience Education
Volume86
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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