Transforming science education through research-driven innovation
Our Vision for Equity and Social Justice: One day all learners and educators will have equitable access to high quality science education opportunities informed by diverse perspectives that prepare them to understand and redress social and environmental injustices in their personal, professional, and civic lives.
BSCS believes that science learning should be inclusive, meaningful, and advance the work of social and environmental justice. We launched the Equity & Social Justice Initiative (ESJI) in 2018 to define our role and take action toward redressing inequity and injustice in STEM, and in the world at large, through science education. Our commitment to equity and social justice is central to our mission and at the heart of everything we do.
Access to opportunity (e.g., academic, career, economic) is disproportionately distributed to groups with more power and privilege. The inequitable patterns we see in STEM outcomes for marginalized students are the result of these systemic imbalances.
Science is a tool that can be used to make the world a better place by motivating social and environmental change. But science is sometimes used by the powerful to oppress. This is why it is imperative for science education to be inclusive, relevant, and actively antiracist and anti-oppressive in all its forms.
The role of BSCS’s work in science education must include preparing youth to recognize when science is being used to cause harm and to purposefully choose science as a means to redress injustice.
To ensure that all BSCS work includes and elevates knowledge, experience, and voices from marginalized communities.
To create programs that provide equitable and meaningful opportunities for students from marginalized communities to learn science.
To produce curricula and professional learning materials that support educators in teaching students how to recognize, understand, and act against injustice.
To make BSCS programs available to teachers and students in marginalized communities who have less access to high quality programs.
From day one of this initiative, we knew we had a lot to learn. We started an internal conversation about our values, our biases, and our organizational culture. We began to acknowledge our history as a predominantly white organization and to admit where we’ve failed. We have taken concrete actions to correct mistakes, and we are working toward fundamental change.
Today, we are committed to ongoing examination of the ways in which we can actualize inclusivity and diversity in our work and dismantle oppressive structures embedded in the culture of our organization. We are committed to science education that is actively antiracist and anti-oppressive in all its forms. We are committed to listening to and learning from critical voices from marginalized communities, now and going forward. We are committed to doing better.
How do we make more-inclusive, relevant, and actively antiracist materials for teachers and students? The imagery we include in materials is one key factor. Representation for the sake of representation should not be the goal. It’s not enough to include images of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color in materials. Images tell stories. What stories are we telling about marginalized groups based on the images we’re sharing? BSCS has made our own mistakes in the past with the implicit stories we’ve told through imagery. We want to do better. So we’ve created a research-based tool that can be used to support materials developers in telling the right stories through imagery. Soon we will share this tool more broadly.
The people who make up BSCS Science Learning live and work on the ancestral homelands of Indigenous Peoples from whom the land that now constitutes the United States was taken. Our main office is in Colorado Springs, CO, a state made up of lands tied to 48 contemporary tribal nations, and our building is situated on the traditional territories of the Ute and the Cheyenne Nations. We acknowledge that the existence of organizations like BSCS is made possible only because of the historical colonization, dispossession, and forced removal of Indigenous Peoples. Rather than perpetuating the continuing systematic suppression and erasure of Indigenous knowledges about the natural world in science education, we commit to collaborating with, listening to, learning from, and amplifying Indigenous voices and ways of knowing that have been devalued in US classrooms. As leaders in the field, we see this ongoing work as central to our mission to transform science education.
This statement is a working draft.
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