Death in a Jar: The Study of Life

  • Mary Rebecca Warbington WellsEmail author
Part of the Environmental Discourses in Science Education book series (EDSE, volume 2)


Drawing from my experience as a life science educator, I assess the irony behind the traditional, yet contradictory approach to studying life, the ethics of studying the dead, as well as agents that contribute to causes of death, whether the death is physical or spiritual for the animal being studied. The dead or dying organisms we study in order to understand the living are often contained or captured, essentially death in jars. If we are showing our students dead animals in order to teach them about living ones, human cadavers not excluded, it should not surprise us when they fail to see the importance of conservation efforts or when the process of death itself is devalued. By looking at such traditional aspects of our educational institutions and what they are teaching us about life and our place in the living world, I believe that we are often misguided about the true role of humans in a world that contains such a vast array of diverse life forms. In place of our innate, biophilic nature comes a modern biophobia that is an inherent consequence of coupling modern society’s recognition of difference with a science education that purports death in jars.


Biology Life science education Curriculum studies Biophobia Biophilia 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Secondary, Adult, & Physical EducationArmstrong State UniversitySavannahUSA

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