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Science

Democratic values & skills

March 11, 2009

Should democratic decision-making skills be taught exclusively by educators in the social sciences (civics and history), or should educators in the field of science have a hand in helping students develop democratic citizenship skills? NREL speakers Sylvia Parker and Bob Mayes say 'Yes!'

Civic engagement in the sciences

Friday, March 13
11 a.m. to noon
B215 Francis Clark conference room
Natural & Environ. Sciences Bldg. 

As a scientist, are there skills you need other than knowing how to conduct research and analyze data?

You probably expect to learn about consensus-based decision-making in your civics class. Would it surprise you if the syllabus for your class in watershed sciences addressed these skills?   

The Natural Resources and Ecology Laboratory Spring 2009 seminar series, Culturally relevant ecology, learning progressions, and environmental literacy is hosting a seminar about the need for science eduators to prepare their students for understanding and engaging in the democratic process in their local communities.

The seminar, titled Students as citizen scientists: Developing democratic values and skills while learning science, will be presented by Sylvia D. Parker and Bob Mayes, Science and Mathematics Teaching Center, University of Wyoming.  

Academic & democratic citizenship skills

Because democracy is viewed as a system of political decision-making, education for a democracy is frequently relegated to the social sciences -- to civics and history classes in which students learn about government and its origins.

But how can other subject areas help develop democratic citizenship skills as well as academic knowledge? When nature and community are connected, an ecologically and culturally literate citizenry that values responsible stewardship is created. 

Learning to engage in real-world issues

Place-based learning is based on the belief that when students become actively engaged in real-world, relevant issues, learning is enhanced and both schools and communities are strengthened. Connections to community, a sense of efficacy, an understanding of public processes and how to participate in them - these are all important to a well-functioning democracy. 

Since science focuses on observation and reflection, and testing it is particularly well-suited to engaging students as citizen scientists who make important contributions by understanding phenomena, the world around them, and then taking action. 

More information


Contact: Laurie Richards
E-mail: laurie.richards@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-1991