Scientific Literacy and the Ontology of Science Education: A Case Study of Learning in the Outdoors
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This dissertation seeks to articulate a framework for critiquing and reconstructing science education by fleshing out the relationships between science education, its ontological commitments to nature, and educational practices that promote justice and democracy. Drawing on theoretical and methodological resources from American Pragmatism and science studies, I offer a case study that evokes the practices of a residential outdoor science program in the Pacific Northwest. I suggest that these practices provide an opportunity to imagine how science education emerges differently when it abandons its commitments to a singular and authoritative Nature, and explore how this program provides empirical resources for building a theory of science education that is multinatural. Grasping the plurality of nature diminishes the tension between experiences and the world, recognizing the importance of the sciences to democratic action without positioning them as a singular source of authority. Multinaturalism then becomes an orienting concept for imagining and reconstructing more democratic and just practices of science education, practices that move away from the transmission of a cannon of white, Eurocentric knowledge, and towards the navigation of problems in dynamic worlds.