Cultural Studies of Science Education

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 843–861 | Cite as

Rising against a gathering storm: a biopolitical analysis of citizenship in STEM policy

Original Paper


Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is a form of education seen by many governments and educators as a preparation of the types of students needed for the future. STEM education is being developed in many countries without the support of official policy, such as is the case in Canada. In the United States, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and a private non-profit organisation, Achieve Inc.™, have been enlisted to develop policy to guide the development on STEM nationally. Due to its influence in global politics and economy, many countries, including Canada, are interested in how the United States is preparing its citizens for the future through STEM education. In this paper we present a critical discourse analysis on STEM policy from the United States as a basis to discuss: biopolitics in science education; notions of citizenship in contemporary school education and science education; and citizenship and STEM education.


Biopolitics Citizenship Critical Discourse Analysis Discourse Next Generation Science Standards Education Policy STEM 


  1. Achieve, (2012). Taking root. Lessons learned for sustaining the collegeand careerready agenda. Achieve Inc. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  2. Achieve Inc., (2013a). Next generation science standards: Front matter. Retrieved from
  3. Achieve Inc., (2013b). Next generation science standards: Appendix C: College and career readiness. Retrieved from
  4. Achieve Inc., (2013c). Next generation science standards: Appendix D: All standards, all students/case studies. Retrieved from from
  5. Achieve Inc., (2013d). Next generation science standards: Appendix H: Nature of science. Retrieved from
  6. Aikenhead, G. S., & Ogawa, M. (2007). Indigenous knowledge and science revisited. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 2(3), 539–591. doi: 10.1007/s11422-007-9067-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Alexiadou, N. (2005). Social exclusion, and educational opportunity: The case of British educationpolicies within a European Union context. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 3(1), 101–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Allen, K., Quinn, J., Hollingworth, S., & Rose, A. (2013). Becoming employable students and ‘ideal’ creative workers: Exclusion and inequality in higher education work placements. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 34(3), 431–452. doi: 10.1080/01425692.2012.714249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. American Educational Research Association. (2015). Annual meeting conference handbook. Washington, DC: AERA.Google Scholar
  10. Anft, M. (2013). The STEM crisis: Reality or myth? The Chronicle of Higher Education, 58(12). Retrieved from
  11. Apple, M. W. (2004). Series editor’s introduction. In W. M. Roth & A. C. Barton (Eds.), Rethinking scientific literacy. New York: RoutledgeFalmer.Google Scholar
  12. Ball, S. (2000). Performativities and fabrications in the education economy: Towards the performative society? Australian Educational Researcher, 27(2), 1–23. doi: 10.1007/BF03219719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ball, S. (2008). New philanthropy, new networks and new governance in education. Political Studies, 56, 747–765. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9248.2008.00722.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bauman, Z. (2001). The individualized society. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  15. Beck, U. (1999). World risk society. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  16. Bencze, J. L. (2008). Private profit, science and science education: Critical problems and possibilities for action. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 8(4), 297–312. doi: 10.1080/14926150802506290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Bencze, L., & Carter, L. (2011). Globalizing students acting for the common good. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48(6), 648–669. doi: 10.1002/tea.20419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (2008). Toward research-based innovation. In C. Bereiter & M. Scardamalia (Eds.), Innovating to learn, learning to innovate (pp. 67–91). Paris: OECD Publishing. doi: 10.1787/9789264047983-5-en.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Boyles, D. R. (Ed.). (2005). Schools or markets? commercialism, privatization, and school-business partnerships. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  20. Brown, W. (2005). Edgework: Critical essays on knowledge and politics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Calabrese Barton, A.M. (2012). Citizen(s’) science. Democracy and Education, 20(2). Article 12. Retrieved from
  22. Campbell, A. L., & Morgan, K. J. (2005). Financing the welfare state: Elite politics and the decline of the social insurance model in America. Studies in American Political Development, 19(2), 173. doi: 10.1017/S0898588X05000118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Chiappetta, E. L., & Fillman, D. A. (2007). Analysis of five high school biology textbooks used in the United States for inclusion of the nature of science. International Journal of Science Education, 29(15), 1847–1868. doi: 10.1080/09500690601159407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Dorey, N. A. (2013). Coming soon: A new generation of assessments. Educational Leadership, 4, 28–34.Google Scholar
  25. Fairclough, N. (2003). Analyzing discourse: Textual analysis for social research. New York: Routledge. doi: 10.1177/09579265030146008.Google Scholar
  26. Foucault, M. (1972). The archaeology of knowledge (1st American ed.). New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  27. Foucault, M. (1980). Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings 1972–1977. Brighton: Harvester.Google Scholar
  28. Foucault, M. (2003) Society must be defended: Lectures at the Collège de France 19751976 (D. Macey, Trans.). New York: Picador.Google Scholar
  29. Gee, J. P. (2011). How to do discourse analysis: A toolkit. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Giroux, H. (2008). Against the terror of neoliberalism: Politics beyond the age of greed. New York: Paradigm.Google Scholar
  31. Gough, A. (2015). STEM policy and science education: Scientistic curriculum and sociopolitical silences. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 10(2), 445–458. doi: 10.1007/s11422-014-9590-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Grimaldi, E. (2012). Neoliberalism and the marginalisation of social justice: The making of an education policy to combat social exclusion. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 16(11), 1131–1154. doi: 10.1080/13603116.2010.548105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gruenewald, D. A., & Smith, G. A. (Eds.). (2007). Place-based education in the global age: Local diversity. NY: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  34. Harding, S. (1991). Whose science? Whose knowledge? Thinking from women’s lives. Ithica, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Hardt, M., & Negri, A. (2000). Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Hay, S., & Kapitzke, C. (2009). ‘Smart state’ for a knowledge economy: Reconstituting creativity through student subjectivity. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 30(2), 151–164. doi: 10.1080/01425690802700206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Heater, D. (2004). The civic ideal in world history, politics and education (3rd ed.). Manchester: Manchester University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Hoeg, D., & Bencze, L. (2017). Values underpinning STEM education in the USA: An analysis of the Next Generation Science Standards. Science Education, 101(2), 278–301. doi: 10.1002/sce.21260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Hoffman, J. (2004). Citizenship beyond the state. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  40. Huckin, T. N. (1997). Critical discourse analysis. In T. Miller (Ed.), Functional approaches to written text (pp. 78–92). Washington, CD: US Department of State.Google Scholar
  41. Hursh, D. (2007). Assessing no child left behind and the rise of neoliberal education policies. American Educational Research Journal, 44(3), 493–518. doi: 10.3102/0002831207306764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Isin, E., & Turner, B. (2002). Handbook of citizenship studies. London: Sage. doi: 10.4135/9781848608276.n7.Google Scholar
  43. Kincheloe, J. L., Steinberg, S., & Tippins, D. J. (1992). The stigma of genius: Einstein and beyond modern education. Durango, CO: Hollowbrook.Google Scholar
  44. Klein, N. (2007). The shock doctrine: The rise of disaster capitalism. New York: Henry Holt and Co.Google Scholar
  45. Krajcik, J., & Merritt, J. (2012). Engaging students in scientific practices: What does constructing and revising models look like in the science classroom? Understanding a framework for K-12 science education. The Science Teacher, 3, 38–41.Google Scholar
  46. Lederman, N., Abd-El-Khalick, F., Bell, R. L., & Schwartz, R. S. (2002). View of nature of science questionnaire: Toward valid and meaningful assessment of learners’ conceptions of nature of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39(6), 497–521. doi: 10.1002/tea.10034.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Leyva, R. (2008). No child left behind: A neoliberal repackaging of social Darwinism. Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies, 7(1), 365–381.Google Scholar
  48. MacLure, M. (2003). Discourse in educational and social research. Philadelphia: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Marshall, T. H. (1998). Citizenship and social class. In G. Shafir (Ed.), The citizenship debates: A reader (pp. 6–93). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  50. Means, A. (2011). Jacques Rancie`re, Education, and the art of citizenship. The Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 33, 28–47. doi: 10.1080/10714413.2011.550187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mueller, M., Tippins, D., & Bryan, L. (2012). The future of citizen science. Democracy and Education, 20(1), 1–12.Google Scholar
  52. NARST. (2015). Annual international conference handbook. NARST.Google Scholar
  53. National Academies of Sciences (NAS). (2007). Rising above the gathering storm: Energizing and employing America for a brighter economic future. Washington, D. C.: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  54. Nicoll, K., & Edwards, R. (2004). Lifelong learning and the sultans of spin: Policy as persuasion? Journal of Education Policy, 19(9), 43–55. doi: 10.1080/0268093042000182627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Panagia, D. (2009). The improper event: On Jacques Rancie`re’s mannerism. Citizenship Studies, 13(3), 297–308. doi: 10.1080/13621020902850700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Pedretti, E., & Nazir, J. (2011). Currents in STSE education: Mapping a complex field, 40 years on. Science Education, 95(4), 601–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pierce, C. (2013). Education in the age of biocapitalism: Optimizing educational life for a flat world. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. (2012). Engage to excel: Producing one million additional college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Washington, D.C.: Executive Office of the President of the United States.Google Scholar
  59. Ranciére, J. (2001). Thesis Ten on Politics. Theory and Event. doi: 10.1353/tae.2001.0028.Google Scholar
  60. Ravetz, J. R. (1979). Scientific knowledge and its social problems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  61. Skogen, R. (2010). The missing element to achieving a citizenship-as-practice: Balancing freedom and responsibility in schools today. Interchange, 41(1), 17–43. doi: 10.1007/s10780-010-9107-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Taylor, C., & Gutman, A. (1994). Multiculturalism: Examining the politics of recognition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  63. Te Riele, K. (2006). Youth ‘at risk’: Further marginalizing the marginalized? Journal of Education Policy, 21(2), 129–145. doi: 10.1080/02680930500499968.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Tonso, K. & Weinstein, M. (2013). Occupying the E in STEM and Science. Paper presented at NARST, April 6–9, 2013, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.Google Scholar
  65. Turner, B. S. (2001). The erosion of citizenship. The British Journal of Sociology, 52(2), 189–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Turunen, T. A., & Rafferty, J. (2013). Insights beyond neo-liberal educational practices: The value of discourse analysis. Educational Research for Policy and Practice, 12(1), 43–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. van Dijk, T. A. (1988). News as discourse. Hillside, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  68. Wasser, J. D., & Bresler, L. (1996). Working in the interpretive zone: Conceptualizing collaboration in qualitative research teams. Educational Researcher, 25(5), 5–15. doi: 10.3102/0013189X025005005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Weinstein, M. (2012). Schools/citizen science. Democracy and Education, 20(1). Article 6. Retrieved from
  70. Wood, G. H. (1998). Democracy and the curriculum. In L. E. Beyer & M. W. Apple (Eds.), The curriculum: Problems, politics and possibilities (pp. 177–198). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  71. Merriam Webster, online dictionary. Retrieved from
  72. Zeidler, D. L., Sadler, T. D., Simmons, M., & Howe, E. (2005). Beyond STS: A research-based framework for socioscientific issues education. Science Education, 89(3), 357–377. doi: 10.1002/sce.20048.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Žižek, S. (2000). The ticklish subject. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  74. Žižek, S. (2004). Afterward. In J. Rancière (Ed.), The politics of aesthetic. (G. Rockhill, Trans.) New York, NY: Continuum.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)/University of TorontoTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations