Teaching for Community Science Literacy

Monday 3:30pm Ritchie Hall: 368
Oral Session Part of Monday B: Earth Connections


Cathy Manduca, Carleton College
In a recent report, the National Academies recognized and described a new kind of science literacy - community science literacy. Community science literacy is "a community having sufficient shared resources that are distributed and organized in such a way that the varying abilities of community members work in concert to contribute to the community's overall well-being." This additional approach to thinking about science literacy offers real promise for enhancing the utility of science and broadening participation the sciences, but it has profound implications for the way we teach and do science. Let's start with the promise. Community science literacy acknowledges, builds on, and enhances knowledge and skills that already exist in communities - it upends deficit models and creates space for other ways of knowing to interact with and influence science. It is explicitly about action and so it connects science to application and exposes the limits of the "loading dock" model where completed science is handed off to users. In its place, it encourages a participatory and iterative approach to science and science literacy, where communities and scientists work together to do science in ways that advances community priorities, creates new knowledge, and enhances the science literacy and agency of individuals. This collaborative approach is a nontraditional, approach to science learning, and it opens the door for new, and integrated models of research and education: service learning, citizen science, co-created science.

The Earth Connections project uses educational pathways to enhance community literacy by developing three educational pathways, anchored in community priorities and focused on building community agency, that link across grade level and across informal and formal learning environments. We will pull from this experience to offer suggestions useful to anyone interested in advancing community science literacy in their teaching and research.

Presentation Media

Teaching for Community Science Literacy (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 3.5MB Jul15 18)