Research in Science Education

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 187–201 | Cite as

Transforming Science Education for the Anthropocene—Is It Possible?

  • Jane GilbertEmail author


Since its inception, science education has been the focus of a great many reform attempts. In general, the aim has been to improve science understanding and/or make science study more interesting and/or relevant to a wider range of students. However, these reform attempts have had limited success. This paper argues that this is in part because science education as a discipline has some “blind spots”, some unacknowledged assumptions that obstruct its development and make it immune to change. While this has long been a problem, the paper argues that, in the new, “postnormal” conditions of the twenty-first century, it is now imperative that we see these blind spots and think differently about what science education is for. School science as we now know it (along with the other school subjects) developed as part of, and in parallel with, modern economies/societies, which in turn depended on the burning of fossil fuels. However, because this period of “carbonised modernity” is now coming to an end, many of the assumptions it was built on must be re-examined. This has (or should have) major implications for science education. Via an exploration of three very different “orientations to the future”, the paper aims to provoke discussion of how science education could be reconceptualised to support our transition into the post-carbon, Anthropocene era.


Future of science education Postnormal science education Anthropocene science education Immunity to change 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Auckland University of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand

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