Justice-centered science pedagogy: A catalyst for academic achievement and social transformation

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Longstanding inequities in science education across the lines of race and class remain the most intractable problem in the field. Justice-centered science pedagogy is introduced as a theoretical framework built on the traditions of critical pedagogy and culturally relevant pedagogy to address these inequities as components of larger oppressive systems. This study examines how a justice-centered advanced chemistry class in an urban neighborhood high school supported students to succeed academically while taking up urgent issues of social and environmental justice identified by their communities. The findings include evidence that curriculum organized around an issue of environmental racism supported academic achievement that exceeded the expectations of a typical high school chemistry course. The findings also document how the curriculum provided opportunities for students to move beyond academic achievement to position themselves as transformative intellectuals. As transformative intellectuals, students demonstrated complex thinking about science and social justice issues, cultivated their commitment to their communities and cultures of origin, and developed credibility as local youth knowledgeable in science. These findings have implications for teachers, teacher educators, and educational researchers who wish to engage with science education as a catalyst for social transformation.

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