Skip to main content

Humanizing science education, wellness and a more just world


This manuscript urges us, individually and as a collective, to revive the soul of science education, making it a transformative, empowering, socially just and humanizing experience for Black and Brown children, especially those living in economically disadvantaged circumstances. A humanizing science education values and respects students, facilitates meaningful and relevant science learning for their pursuit of personal wellness, and assists them in addressing systemic injustices faced within their lifeworlds.

نبذة مختصرة

تحثنا هذه المقالة، بشكل فردي وجماعي، على إحياء روح تعليم المواد العلمية، مما يجعلها تجربة تحويلية

وتمكينية وعادلة اجتماعيا وإنسانية للأطفال الملونين والسود، وخاصة أولئك الذين يعيشون في ظروف اقتصادية صعبة. إن تعليم العلوم بطريقة إنسانية يقدر ويحترم الطلاب، ويسهل عليهم تعلم العلوم الهادف والمهم لسعيهم إلى العافية الشخصية، ويساعدهم في معالجة المظالم المنهجية التي يواجهونها في ظروفهم المعيشية

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Atwater, M. M. (2010). Multicultural science education and curriculum materials. Science Activities, 47(4), 103–108.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The dialogic imagination. University of Texas Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Barton, A. C. (2003). Teaching science for social justice. New York: Teachers College Press.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241–258). New York: Greenwood.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Dumas, M. J., & Ross, K. M. (2016). ‘Be real black for me’: Imagining BlackCrit in education. Urban Education, 51(4), 415–442.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Elmesky, R. (2003). Crossfire on the streets and into the classroom: Meso|micro understandings of weak cultural boundaries, strategies of action and a sense of the game in an inner-city chemistry classroom. Cybernetics and Human Knowing, 10(2), 29–50.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Elmesky, R., & Marcucci, O. (2021). [Manuscript submitted for publication]. Beyond cultural mismatch theories: The role of antiblackness in school discipline and social control practices.

  8. Elmesky, R., & Tobin, K. (2005). Expanding our understandings of urban science education by expanding the roles of students as researchers. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(7), 807–828.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Gill, D., & Levidow, L. (1987). Anti-racist science teaching. London: Free Association Books.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Haberman, M. (1991). The pedagogy of poverty versus good teaching. Phi Delta Kappan, 73, 290–294.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Mensah, F. M., & Jackson, I. (2018). Whiteness as property in science teacher education. Teachers College Record, 120(1), 1–38.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Oakes, J. (1990). Multiplying inequalities: The effects of race, social class, and tracking on opportunities to learn mathematics and science. Santa Monica, CA: The RAND Corporation.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Ridgeway, M. L. (2019). Against the grain: Science education researchers and social justice agendas. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 14, 283–292.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Rodriguez, A. J., & Morrison, D. (2019). Expanding and enacting transformative meanings of equity, diversity and social justice in science education. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 14, 265–281.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Roth, W.-M., & Tobin, K. (2001). Toward an epistemology of teaching as practice. Retrieved from:

  16. Roth, W.-M., Tobin, K., Elmesky, R., Carambo, C., McKnight, Y., & Beers, J. (2004). Re/making identities in the praxis of urban schooling: A cultural historical perspective. Mind, Culture and Activity, 11(1), 48–69.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Sharpton, A. (2020). Reverend Al Sharpton Eulogy Transcript at George Floyd's Memorial Service. Retrieved from:

  18. Tobin, K., & Alexakos, K. (2021). Doing authentic inquiry. In K. Tobin & K. Alexakos (Eds.), Doing authentic inquiry to improve learning and teaching (pp. 17–45). Boston: Brill | Sense.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  19. Tobin, K., Roth, W.-M., & Zimmermann, A. (2001). Learning to teach science in urban schools. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(8), 941–964.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


I am grateful for Romaytha Abdullah's assistance with the literature review and for reviewing early drafts of this paper.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rowhea Elmesky.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Lead Editor: K. Tobin.

This manuscript is part of the special issue Contemplative Inquiry, Wellbeing and Science Education, guest edited by Kenneth Tobin.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Elmesky, R. Humanizing science education, wellness and a more just world. Cult Stud of Sci Educ 16, 857–866 (2021).

Download citation


  • Humanizing science education
  • Social justice
  • Radical listening
  • Lived experiences

كلمات أساسية

  • الظروف المعيشية
  • الاستماع الراديكالي
  • العدالة الاجتماعية
  • كلمات أساسية: التعليم الإنساني للمواد العلمية