Elementary Students’ Ways of Seeing Globalization in Science

  • Bhaskar Upadhyay
Part of the Cultural Studies of Science Education book series (CSSE, volume 5)


Globalization has to be a new educational imperative in science education policy, teacher preparation programs, and curricular development initiatives. As geopolitical, cultural, and economic boundaries are blurred because of globalization, there is an urgent need to understand and document the effects of globalization in our youths’ everyday actions and choices inside and outside the school environments. In everyday urban science classrooms teachers and students are engaged in many science related activities but globalization is missing from the science discourses. This chapter presents fifth-grade urban students’ engagements with science content and activities and how their classroom engagements are parts of larger local and global events in the process of globalization. In this chapter I draw on three notions of globalization – deterritorialization, interconnectedness, and time and space compression – and look through the sociocultural lens to examine the interactions and discourses that take place in a poor urban science classroom. Using the interpretive research paradigm I attempt to answer the following three questions linking science and globalization: (1) How do elementary students see globalization in a science classroom context?; (2) How do elementary students engage in science when Western-scientific knowledge and non-Western knowledge interact as global and local knowledge structures?; and (3) How do students view their connection to larger global issues and the science they learn in school? The students in the fifth grade class took the initiative to connect science content to the recent earthquake disaster in Haiti and engaged in discussions and actions that created bonds between the students and the events in Haiti. The students not only discovered the role of their actions in being a part of the global event but also managed to redefine how science learning could reshape their thinking about distant people. Similarly, the students also wrestled with the standard science knowledge that the science books and school curriculum teach and the local and personal knowledge gained over long periods of time. As the process of globalization sweeps across many distant local communities and people, the struggle to retain and preserve local knowledge will become more acute. The interactions between local and global values and beliefs will spill into the social and cultural fabric of many communities. The voices that the students will bring into local science classrooms are at the heart of understanding and documenting what science education in the age of globalization should do for these students and their lives. Therefore, nations and communities have to rethink science education so that it will engage students in making sense of the interactions between science learning and the process of globalization and their role now and when they become adults.


Science Education Local Knowledge Science Learning Science Classroom Science Content 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Curriculum & InstructionUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA

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