By Mubina Schroeder
In preparation for the upcoming Climate Change Summit at the United Nations, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated:
“We need rapid and deep change in how we do business, generate power, build cities and feed the world.”
Climate change and its far-reaching effects on the lives of everyone in the global community represent a unique challenge for society—and a unique opportunity for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. STEM educators often contend with ways to promote scientific literacy.
How can we create the next generation of critical thinkers, creative problem solvers, and solution engineers?
One pathway is to promote awareness of socioscientific issues (SSI). Zeidler and Nicols (2009) describe SSI:
"Socioscientific issues involve the deliberate use of scientific topics that require students to engage in dialogue, discussion and debate. They are usually controversial in nature but have the added element of requiring a degree of moral reasoning or the evaluation of ethical concerns in the process of arriving at decisions regarding possible resolution of those issues. The intent is that such issues are personally meaningful and engaging to students, require the use of evidence-based reasoning, and provide a context for understanding scientific information."
Climate change is an issue that affects every corner of the world, and students in every classroom may be witness to some of its effects.
Several regions in the world have experienced unprecedented heat waves, water shortages, and extreme weather events--all because of climate change. The beauty of teaching using an SSI approach is that socioscientific issues often are complicated and multifaceted--allowing STEM pedagogues to be creative in teaching about them.
You can find some great resources on teaching about climate change here:
Dr. Schroeder is an Associate Professor at Molloy College and is a Kappa Delta Pi United Nations Professional Representative.
Zeidler, D. L., & Nichols, B. H. (2009). Socioscientific issues: Theory and practice. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 21(2), 49.