Altering the Ideology of Consumerism: Caring for Land and People Through School Science

Part of the Cultural Studies of Science Education book series (CSSE, volume 16)


In this chapter, we examine how school science can engage ethics of care to interrupt harmful environmental and economic practices of consumption. More specifically, we question: how can science education promote ethical practices of sustainability, particularly within contexts of economic oppression? We first describe how consumerism has become an under–interrogated dominant neoliberal ideology, calling attention to how unfettered consumerism has had devastating effects on individuals, communities, land, and other living beings. We outline how these effects are disproportionately intensified within economically oppressed communities. We then propose an ethic of caring for land and people by drawing on conceptualizations of caring in education literature, environmental education, and Indigenous thought. Next we draw from two case studies of high school science contexts to show ways that youth and their teachers critique consumption through and within an ethic of caring for self, each other, land, and community. As youth re/learn sustainable practices, they attend to both ecological and economic dimensions of sustainability–caring for both land and people. Ultimately, these cases highlight how youth benefit from opportunities to rethink consumption and consumerism in ways that are situated within the complex ecologies of their lives.


Caring Science education Consumerism Environmental learning Indigenous ethics 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Teaching, Learning, & Sociocultural StudiesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Learning and InstructionUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

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