Skip to main content

“It Changed Our Lives”: Activism, Science, and Greening the Community

Abstract

Drawing upon critically oriented studies of science literacy and environmental justice, we posit a framework for activism in science education. To make our case, we share a set of narratives on how the River City Youth Club acquired a new green roof. Using these narratives we argue that the ways in which youth describe their accomplishments with respect to the roof reflects a range of subject positions that they carve out and take up over time. These subject positions reveal how activism is a generative process linked to “knowing” and “being” in ways that juxtapose everyday practices with those of science.

Résumé

Fondant notre approche sur des études critiques dans le domaine de l’alphabétisation scientifique et de l’équité environnementale, nous postulons un cadre visant à promouvoir l’activisme en enseignement des sciences. Comme arguments, nous présentons une série de récits qui racontent comment la Maison de jeunes de River City a pu se doter d’un nouveau toit écologique. Ces récits nous permettent de montrer que les façons dont les jeunes décrivent leur rôle dans la réalisation de ce projet reflètent une gamme de positions que les sujets adoptent et modifient au fur et à mesure que progresse la réalisation du toit. Ces différentes positions indiquent que l’activisme est un processus génératif lié à la ‘connaissance’ et au ‘savoir’, processus qui juxtapose les pratiques quotidiennes et celles des sciences.

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

References

  1. Bowers, C.A. (2002). Toward an eco-justice pedagogy. Environmental Education Research, 8(1), 21–34.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Brodkin, K. (2009). Power politics: Environmental activism in south Los Angeles. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Calabrese Barton, A., & Tan, E. (2010). We be burnin: Agency, identity and learning in a green energy program. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19(2), 187–229.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Cohen, C. (2006). African American youth: Broadening our understanding of politics, civic engagement and activism. Retrieved May 11, 2010, from http://ya.ssrc.org/african/Cohen/

    Google Scholar 

  5. Hobson, K. (2006). Enacting environmental justice in Singapore: Performative justice and the Green Volunteer Network. GeoForum, 37 (5), 671–681.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Kissing, M. (2010, April). Step in the OK direction: Youth caring for the(ir) environment(s). Paper presented at the American Education Research Association Annual Meeting, Denver, CO.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Molina, G. (2000). Supervisor Gloria Molina—List of accomplishments. Retrieved May 11, 2010, from http://molina.lacounty.gov/PDFs/GM%20list.pdf

    Google Scholar 

  8. Nasir, N. S., & Hand, V. (2008). From the court to the classroom: Opportunities for engagement, learning, and identity in basketball and classroom mathematics. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 17(2), 143–179.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Robins, S. (2006). From “rights” to “ritual”: AIDS activism in South Africa. American Anthropologist, 108(2), 312.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Ryder, J. (2001). Identifying science understanding for functional scientific literacy. Studies in Science Education, 36, 1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Stephens, S. (1996). Reflections on environmental justice: Children as victims and actors. Social Justice: A Journal of Crime, Conflict & World Order, 23(4), 62.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Subramaniam, M. (2000). Whose interest? Gender issues and wood-fire heating stoves. American Behavioral Scientist, 43(4), 707–728.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Taylor, D. (2000). Introduction [Special issue]. American Behavioral Scientist, 43(4), 504–507.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Teeluscksingh, C. (2002). Spatiality and environmental justice in Parkdale (Toronto). Ethnologies, 24(1), 1–16.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Urrieta, L., Jr. (2004). Chicana/o activism and education: An introduction to the special issue. The High School Journal, 87(4), 1–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Weinstein, M. (2006). Slash writers and guinea pigs as models for a scientific multiliteracy. Educational Theory and Philosophy, 38(5), 583–599.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Weinstein, M. (2008a). Captain America, Tuskegee, Belmont, and righteous guinea pigs: Considering scientific ethics through official and subaltern perspectives. Science & Education, 17(8–9), 961–975.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Weinstein, M. (2008b). Finding science in the school body: Reflections on transgressing the boundaries of science education and the social studies of science. Science Education, 92(3), 389–403.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Angela Calabrese Barton.

Additional information

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DRL-0737642. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Barton, A.C., Tan, E. “It Changed Our Lives”: Activism, Science, and Greening the Community. Can J Sci Math Techn 10, 207–222 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1080/14926156.2010.504480

Download citation