Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 703–718 | Cite as

Extending the purposes of science education: addressing violence within socio-economic disadvantaged communities

  • Carolina Castano


Current discourses about science education show a wide concern towards humanisation and a more socio-cultural perspective of school science. They suggest that science education can serve diverse purposes and be responsive to social and environmental situations we currently face. However, these discourses and social approaches to science education tend to focus on global issues. They do not respond to the immediate needs and local context of some communities. I discuss in this paper why the purposes of science education need to be extended to respond to the local issue of violence. For this, I present a case study with a group of 38 students from a poor population in Bogotá, Colombia, located in one of the suburbs with highest levels of crime in the city. I examine the ways that science education contributes to and embodies its own forms of violence and explore how a new approach to science education could contribute to break the cycle of violence.


School violence Animal issues Compassion Science teaching Moral education 


  1. Alcaldía mayor de Bogotá (2004). Recorriendo Usme. Retrieved May 15, 2009, from
  2. Andrzejewski, J., Helena, P., & Freeman, W. (2009). Interspecies education for humans, animals, and the earth. In J. Andrzejewski, M. Baltodano, & L. Symcox (Eds.), Social justice, peace, and environmental education: Transformative standards. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Arluke, A., Levin, J., Luke, C., & Ascione, F. (1999). The relationship of animal abuse to violence and other forms of antisocial behavior. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 14, 963–975.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ascione, F. R. (2001). Animal abuse and youth violence. USA: US Dept of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.Google Scholar
  5. Ascione, F. R. (2005). Children and animals: Exploring the roots of kindness and cruelty. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bekoff, M. (2008). Increasing our compassion footprint: The animals’ manifesto. Zygon ® , 43, 771–781.Google Scholar
  7. Black, D. W., & Larson, C. L. (1999). Bad boys, bad men: Confronting antisocial personality disorder. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bryce, T. G. K. (2010). Sardonic science? The resistance to more humanistic forms of science education. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 5, 591–612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bushman, B. J., & Anderson, C. A. (2001). Is it time to pull the plug on the hostile versus instrumental aggression dichotomy? Psychological Review, 108, 273–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Castano, C. (2011). The role of science education in reducing violence towards others (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Deakin University, Australia.Google Scholar
  11. Castano, C. (in press). Fostering compassionate attitudes and the amelioration of aggression through a science class. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. Google Scholar
  12. Cepeda-Cuervo, E., Pacheco-Durán, P. N., García-Barco, L., & Piraquive-Peña, C. J. (2008). Acoso escolar a estudiantes de educación básica y media. Revista de Salud Pública, 10, 517–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chaux, E. (2002). Buscando pistas para prevenir la violencia urbana en Colombia: conflictos y agresión entre niños y adolescentes de Bogotá. Revista de Estudios Sociales, 12, 41–51.Google Scholar
  14. Chaux, E. (2003). Agresión reactiva, agresión instrumental y ciclo de la violencia. Revista de Estudios Sociales, 15, 47–58.Google Scholar
  15. Chaux, E. (2007). Aulas en paz: A multicomponent program for the promotion of peaceful relationships and citizenship competencies [Electronic Version]. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, 25. Retrieved September 10, 2008, from
  16. Cushing, J. L., & Williams, J. D. (1995). The wild mustang program: A case study in facilitated inmate therapy. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 22, 95–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. De Waal, F. B. M. (2009). The age of empathy: Nature’s lessons for a kinder society. New York: Harmony Books.Google Scholar
  18. Farmer, P. E., Nizeye, B., Stulac, S., & Keshavjee, S. (2006). Structural violence and clinical medicine. PLoS Med, 3, e449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Galtung, J. (1969). Violence, peace, and peace research. Journal of Peace Research, 6, 167–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gullone, E. (2003). The proposed benefits of incorporating non-human animals into preventive efforts for conduct disorder. Antrozoos, 16, 160–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gullone, E., & Robertson, N. (2008). The relationship between bullying and animal abuse behaviors in adolescents: The importance of witnessing animal abuse. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29, 371–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gunstone, R., Corrigan, D., & Dillon, J. (2007). Introduction. In D. Corrigan, J. Dillon, & R. Gustone (Eds.), The re-emergence of values in science education (pp. 1–10). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  23. Haynes, N. M. (1996). Creating safe and caring school communities: Comer school development program schools. Journal of Negro Education 65, 308–314.Google Scholar
  24. Hildebrand, G. (2007). Diversity, values and the science curriculum. In D. Corrigan, J. Dillon, & R. Gustone (Eds.), The re-emergence of values in science education (pp. 45–60). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  25. Hindley, P. (1999). ‘Minding animals’: The role of animals in children’s mental development. In D. Francine (Ed.), Attitudes to animals; views in animal welfare (pp. 186–199). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Ireland, J. L. (1999). Provictim attitudes and empathy in relation to bullying behaviour among prisoners. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 4, 51–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Katcher, A., & Teumer, S. (2006). A 4-year trial of animal-assisted therapy with public school special education students. In A. Fine (Ed.), Handbook on animal assisted therapy: Theoretical foundations and guidelines for practice (2nd ed., pp. 227–242). San Diego: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  28. Kellert, S. R., & Wilson, E. O. (Eds.). (1993). The biophilia hypothesis. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  29. Kenway, J., & Fitzclarence, L. (1997). Masculinity, violence and schooling: Challenging ‘poisonous pedagogies’. Gender and Education, 9, 117–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. KPMG. (2009). Re-engaging our kids: a framework for education provision to children and young people at risk of disengaging or disengaged from school, report prepared for DEECD. Retrieved December 15, 2011 from
  31. Malcolm, C. (2007). The value of science in African countries. In D. Corrigan, J. Dillon, & R. Gustone (Eds.), The re-emergence of values in science education (pp. 61–76). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  32. Mejia, R., Kliewer, W., & Williams, L. (2006). Domestic violence exposure in Colombian adolescents: Pathways to violent and prosocial behavior. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 19, 257–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mitchell, D., & Mueller, M. (2011). A philosophical analysis of David Orr’s theory of ecological literacy: biophilia, ecojustice and moral education in school learning communities. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 6, 193–221.Google Scholar
  34. Orr, D. W. (2004). Earth in mind: On education, environment, and the human prospect. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  35. Pedretti, E., & Nazir, J. (2011). Currents in STSE education: Mapping a complex field, 40 years on. Science Education, 95, 601–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Ratcliffe, M. (2007). Values in the science classroom—The ‘enacted’ curriculum. In D. Corrigan, J. Dillon, & R. Gustone (Eds.), The re-emergence of values in science education (pp. 119–132). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.Google Scholar
  37. Rigby, K. (1997). What children tell us about bullying in schools. Children Australia, 22, 28–34.Google Scholar
  38. Rigby, K. (2002). A meta-evaluation of methods and approaches to reducing bullying in pre-schools and early primary school in Australia. Retrieved August 29, 2006 from$file/ncp_MetaEval200802.pdf.
  39. Rodkin, P. C., Farmer, T. W., Pearl, R., & van Acker, R. (2000). Heterogeneity of popular boys: Antisocial and prosocial configurations. Developmental Psychology, 36, 14–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schreiner, C., & Sjøberg, S. (2004). Sowing the seeds of ROSE. Background, rationale, questionnaire development and data Collection for ROSE (The Relevance of Science Education)A comparative study of students’ views of science and science education. Oslo: Dept. of Teacher Education and School Development, University of Oslo. Retrieved January 10, 2011 from
  41. Sprecher, S., & Fehr, B. (2005). Compassionate love for close others and humanity. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 22, 629–651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. The World Health Organization (WHO). (2010). Violence. Retrieved October 26, 2010 from
  43. UNICEF. (2002). La niñez y sus derechos (Boletín No. 8): La niñez en el conflicto armado colombiano. Colombia: UNICEF.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australian Catholic UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations