Preparing Citizens for the Future

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Session 54 -- Communicating Science to the Public
Oral presentation, Thursday, June 15, 1995, 10:00am - 11:30am

[54.01] Preparing Citizens for the Future

W. Kubinec. (College of Charleston, SC)

Introductory astronomy courses are heavily utilized by non-science majors to check off a general degree requirement in science. For a large portion of this population, this course will be their only academic encounter with science. Many of these students have not had successful preparatory experiences. Some individuals exhibit a math/science learned helplessness. These facts coupled with the need for science literacy are proper concerns in designing the educational experience called introductory astronomy. My course has been converted largely to a collaborative environment. A unique feature is an emphasis on science policy and the utilization of structured controversy. I use lecture and some video excerpts to introduce science policy and strategic planning. A specific controversial policy related to astronomy is posed. The students prepare pro and con arguments, debate the issue formally in class and engage in small-group discussions to discover common values and solutions. Personal beliefs and the views of various majors provide fuel for lively discourse. Structured controversy develops social responsibility, intellectual competence, conflict resolution skills and personal confidence. These attributes are essential for the techno-political future.

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