Defining "Science" in a Multicultural World: Implications for Science Education

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In today’s schools there are often competing accounts of natural phenomena, especially when schools are located in multicultural communities. There are also competing claims about what counts as science. This article examines the definition of science put forward from multicultural perspectives in contrast to a universalist perspective on science; that is, the Standard Account. The article argues that good science explanations will always be universal even if indigenous knowledge is incorporated as scientific knowledge. What works best is still of interest to most, and although one may hate to use the word hegemony, Western science would co-opt and dominate indigenous knowledge if it were incorporated as science. Therefore, indigenous knowledge is better off as a different kind of knowledge that can be valued for its own merits, play a vital role in science education, and maintain a position of independence from which it can critique the practices of science and the Standard Account.


SLCSP Paper # 148

Published Citation

Cobern, W. W., & Loving, C. C. (2001). Defining 'science' in a multicultural world: Implications science education. Science Education, 85(1), 50-67