STEM Education and the Theft of Futures of Our Youth: Some Questions and Challenges for Educators

  • Sophia (Sun Kyung) Jeong
  • Deborah J. TippinsEmail author
  • Kimberly Haverkos
  • Mel Kutner
  • Shakhnoza Kayumova
  • Stacey Britton
Part of the Environmental Discourses in Science Education book series (EDSE, volume 5)


STEM Barbie dolls, STEM degrees, STEM field trips, STEM communities, STEM wavemakers, liberatory STEM—around the world, STEM and its variants, such as STEAM, STREAM, and STEMM, are at the forefront of educational conversations across many academic disciplines. At the heart of these conversations are questions about how we can best prepare future generations of scientists, science teachers, and citizen scientists for the rapid economic and social challenges of the twenty-first century. For the most part, the science education community and policy makers have embraced the STEM bandwagon. However, the proliferation of STEM initiatives has recently raised concerns around deficit STEM frameworks and hegemonic STEM practices, particularly among science educators concerned with far-reaching visions of what science can and should do. In this chapter we highlight several questions that may pose significant challenges for individuals and groups contemplating or engaged in STEM reform. These questions surround the consequences of a media-propelled landscape of STEM consumerism and include such issues as the role of ethics and morals with respect to STEM education, the reification of traditional gender roles in STEM, and the influence of neoliberal ideology in STEM contexts. Examining ideas surrounding these questions, we challenge scientists, educators, and the public at large to critically examine the role of STEM in educating our youth.


  1. Aikenhead, G. S. (2006). Science education for everyday life: Evidence-based practice. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  2. American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1989). Science for all Americans. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science.Google Scholar
  3. Anthony, A. S. (2004). Gender bias and discrimination in nursing education: Can we change it? Nursing Educator, 29(3), 121–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Association of American Medical Colleges. (2016). Current trends in medical education. Retrieved from
  5. Basil, V., & Murray, K. (2015). Uncovering the need for diversity among K–12 STEM educators. Teacher Education and Practice, 28(3), 255–268.Google Scholar
  6. Basile, V., & Lopez, E. (2015). And still I see no changes: Enduring views of students of color in science and mathematics education policy reports. Science Education, 99(3), 519–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bencze, L., Reiss, M., Sharma, A., & Weinstein, M. (2018). STEM education as ‘Trojan horse’: Deconstructed and reinvented for all. In L. Bryan & K. Tobin (Eds.), Thirteen questions in science education (pp. 69–87). New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  8. Bennington, G. (1999). Inter. In M. McQuillan, G. MacDonald, R. Purves, & S. Thomson (Eds.), Post-theory: New directions in criticism (pp. 103–119). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bologna, C. (2015, April 7). 12 Brilliant kids’ clothing lines that say no to gender stereotypes. Retrieved from
  10. Breiner, J. M., Harkness, S. S., Johnson, C. C., & Koehler, C. M. (2012). What is STEM? A discussion about conceptions of STEM in education and partnerships. School Science and Mathematics, 112(1), 3–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bricker, P., Jackson, E., & Binkley, R. (2015). Building teacher leaders and sustaining local communities through a collaborative farm to school education project—What EcoJustice work can PreService teachers do? In M. P. Mueller & D. J. Tippins (Eds.), EcoJustice, citizen science and youth activism (pp. 83–97). Geneva: Springer.Google Scholar
  12. Butler, L., Scammell, M., & Benson, E. (2016). The Flint, Michigan, water crisis: A case study in regulatory failure and environmental injustice. Environmental Justice, 9, 93–97. Scholar
  13. Bybee, R. W. (2010). What is STEM education? Science, 329(5995), 996. Scholar
  14. Capelli, P. H. (2015). Skill gaps, skill shortages, and skill mismatches: Evidence and arguments for the United States. ILR Review, 0019793914564961.Google Scholar
  15. Capobianco, B., & Yu, J. (2014). Using the construct of care to frame engineering as a caring profession toward promoting young girls’ participation. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 20(1), 21–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Clark, L. P., Millet, D. B., & Marshall, J. D. (2014). National patterns in environmental injustice and inequality: outdoor NO2 air pollution in the United States. PloS One, 9(4), e94431.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Collins, M., Munoz, I., & JaJa, J. (2016). Linking ‘toxic outliers’ to environmental justice communities. Environmental Research Letters, 11, 015004. Scholar
  18. Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy. (2007). Rising above the gathering storm: Energizing and empowering America for Brighter economic future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  19. Dugdale, D., Epstein, R., & Pantilat, S. (1999). Time and the patient-physician relationship. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 14(1), 34–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ellison, S., & Allen, B. (2016). Disruptive innovation, labor markets, and big Valley STEM School: network analysis in STEM education. Cultural Studies of Science Education.
  21. Fowler, S. R., Zeidler, D. L., & Sadler, T. D. (2009). Moral sensitivity in the context of socioscientific issues in high school science students. International Journal of Science Education, 31(2), 279–296. Scholar
  22. Guyotte, K. W., Sochacka, N. W., Costantino, T. E., Walther, J., & Kellam, N. N. (2014). STEAM as social practice: Cultivating creativity in transdisciplinary spaces. Art Education, 67(6), 12–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Haraway, D. J. (1997). Feminism and technoscience. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  24. Hill, C., Corbett, C., & St. Rose, A. (2010). Why so few? Women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Washington, DC: AAUW Research Report.Google Scholar
  25. Jeong, S., Tippins, D. J., & Kayumova, S. (2017). A story of chicks, science fairs and the ethics of students’ biomedical research. In M. P. Mueller, D. J. Tippins, & A. J. Stewart (Eds.), Animals and science education: Ethics, curriculum and pedagogy (Vol. 2, pp. 99–121). Cham: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Jowett, L. (2007). Lab coats and lipstick: Smart women reshape science on television. In S. Inness (Ed.), Geek Chic: Smart women in popular culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  27. Kincheloe, J., Steinberg, S., & Tippins, D. (1999). The stigma of genius: Einstein, consciousness and education. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  28. Koonce, D. A., Zhou, J., Anderson, C. D., Hening, D. A., & Conley, V. M. (2011). What is STEM? Paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education annual conference proceedings.Google Scholar
  29. Krug. (2012). STEM Education and Sustainability in Canada and the United States. Paper presented at the 2nd international STEM in Education conference. Retrieved from
  30. Krzesni, D. (2014). Pedagogy for restoration: Addressing social and ecological degradation through education. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.Google Scholar
  31. Larner, W. (2000). Neo-liberalism: Policy, ideology, governmentality. Studies in Political Economy, 63, 5–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Loudenback, T. (2016, June 15). This company’s toys are helping mold in a new generation of engineers. Business Insider. Retrieved from
  33. Merchant, C. (1980). The death of nature: Women, ecology and the scientific revolution. San Francisco: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  34. Moran, J. (2010). Interdisciplinarity. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mueller, M. P., & Zeidler, D. L. (2010). Moral–ethical character and science Education: EcoJustice ethics through socioscientific issues (SSI). In D. J. Tippins, M. P. Mueller, M. van Eijck, & J. D. Adams (Eds.), Cultural studies and environmentalism: The confluence of EcoJustice, place-based (science) education, and indigenous knowledge systems (pp. 105–128). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. National Girls Collaborative Project. (2017). Statistics: State of girls and women in STEM. Retrieved from
  37. National Science Board. (2016). Science & engineering indicators. National Science Foundation. Retrieved from
  38. Portillo, S. (2017, August 23). White men must learn to say yes. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from
  39. Quigley, C. F., & Herro, D. (2016). “Finding the joy in the unknown”: Implementation of STEAM teaching practices in middle school science and math classrooms. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 25(3), 410–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rabin, R. C. (2014, April 21). 15-Minute visits take a toll on the doctor-patient relationship. Kaiser Health News. Retrieved from
  41. Reese, S. (2011, June 23). Women MDs spend more time with patients: Does it matter? Medscape. Retrieved from
  42. Reiss, M. J. (1999). Teaching ethics in science. Studies in Science Education, 34, 115–140. Scholar
  43. Sadler, T. D. (2004). Moral and ethical dimensions of socioscientific decision-making as integral components of scientific literacy. Science Educator, 13(1), 39–48.Google Scholar
  44. Salzman, H., Kuehn, D., & Lowell, B. L. (2013). Guestworkers in the high-skill U.S. labor market. Retrieved from
  45. Sharma, A. (2016). The STEM-ification of education: The Zombie reform strikes again. Journal for Activist Science & Technology Education, 7(1), 43–51.Google Scholar
  46. Tsugawa, Y., Jena, A., Figueroa, J., Orav, J., Blumenthal, D., & Jha, A. (2017). Comparison of hospital mortality and readmission rates for Medicare patients treated by male vs female physicians. JAMA Internal Medicine, 177(2), 206–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tuana, N. (2007). Conceptualizing moral literacy. Journal of Educational Administration, 45(4), 364–378. Scholar
  48. U.S. Department of Education. (2001). No child left behind. Retrieved from
  49. U.S. Department of Education. (2006). Answering the challenge of a changing world: Strenghtening education for the 21st century. Retrieved from
  50. U.S. Department of Education. (2015). Fundamental change: Innovation in America’s schools under Race to the Top. Retrieved from
  51. Weinstein, M. (2008). 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.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Weinstein, M. (2016). Imagining science education through ethnographies of neoliberal resistance. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 23(3), 237–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zeidler, D. L. (2014). Socioscientific issues as a curriculum epmphasis: Theory, research and practice. In N. G. Ledermand & S. K. Abell (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (Vol. 11, pp. 697–726). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  54. Zeidler, D. L. (2016). STEM education: A deficit framework for the twenty first century? A sociocultural socioscientific response. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 11(1), 11–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zeidler, D. L., Sadler, T. D., Simmons, M. L., & Howes, E. V. (2005). Beyond STS: A research-based framework for socioscientific issues education. Science Education, 89(3), 357–377. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sophia (Sun Kyung) Jeong
    • 1
  • Deborah J. Tippins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kimberly Haverkos
    • 2
  • Mel Kutner
    • 1
  • Shakhnoza Kayumova
    • 3
  • Stacey Britton
    • 4
  1. 1.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.Thomas More UniversityCrestview HillsUSA
  3. 3.University of MassachusettsDartmouthUSA
  4. 4.University of West GeorgiaCarrolltonUSA

Personalised recommendations