Campus News Society & Culture

UGA education professors publish book on place-based, indigenous focus in science education

Athens, Ga. — Two University of Georgia science education professors have written the first authoritative guide on the convergence of three emerging fields of study-ecojustice, place-based education and indigenous knowledge in education.

Aimed at educators and policymakers, Cultural Studies and Environmentalism: The Confluence of EcoJustice, Place-Based (Science) Education and Indigenous Knowledge Systems starts from the premise that schooling is a small part of the larger educational domain in which we live and learn, according to Michael P. Mueller and Deborah J. Tippins, faculty members in the College of Education’s department of mathematics and science education.

The book describes ways in which home-grown talents and knowledge can be developed, while eco-region awareness and global relationships can be facilitated. Incorporating a diversity of perspectives that include photography, poetry and visual art, the book focuses on evaluating educational problems and community conditions.

“Ecojustice philosophy is a way of learning how we frame or perceive the world around us-and why that matters,” said Mueller. “Although it is not synonymous with social or environmental justice, the priorities of ecojustice span the globe in the same way. It incorporates a deep recognition of the appropriateness and significance of learning from place-based experiences and indigenous knowledge systems rather than depending on some urgent ‘ecological crises’ to advocate for school and societal change.”

Instead of a one-size-fits-all mindset, the book provides a tapestry of perspectives on culturally sensitive science education. “It opens our minds to the reality that teaching science in rural Quebec, in agricultural Malawi and in inner city Detroit is in some ways alike, but in many ways crucially different,” said Muller. “If we do not attend to the differences, we lose the learners and the vital potential for students shaping the communities in which they live.

“With a multiplicity of diverse voices coming together to explore its key themes, this book is an important starting point for educators in many arenas,” he added. “It brings into better focus a vital role for the Earth’s ecosystems in the context of ecosociocultural theory and participatory democracy alike.”

The book includes chapters by several UGA faculty members and students, including Norman Thomson, an associate professor in mathematics and science education; Cory Buxton, an associate professor in elementary and social studies education; Jamie Calkin, an adjunct professor in mathematics and science education; and doctoral candidates in science education Jennifer Lance Atkinson, Stacey Britton and Tina Williams Pagan.

Michiel van Eijck, Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, and Jennifer D. Adams, assistant professor of science education at Brooklyn College, were co-authors of the book, which is the third volume in the Cultural Studies of Science Education series published by Springer.

For more information about the UGA College of Education’s department of mathematics and science education, see