Looking forward by looking back: equity in science education as socially just and morally healing action

Alaina Szostkowski, Bhaskar Upadhyay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In this conceptual paper, we argue that social justice, morality, and healing must be at the core of an equity agenda for science education. When we view equity through this lens, teachers’ and researchers’ historically informed moral stances become just as important as the equitable distribution of teaching and learning resources and the achievement of excellent learning outcomes for all students. Without looking back to the history of science and its prejudices, we miss the reasons why equity in science education continues to be so hard to attain. Incorporating insights from critical race theory, we see ideas of social justice and morality overlapping as well as supporting our understanding of a new direction for equity in science education. We do not frame moral decisions as autonomous actions carried out on the basis of universal a priori principles; rather, we believe they are dialogically informed by culture and context. We therefore place emphasis on responsibilities rather than rules. In this article, we first describe equity through the lens of social justice and present an overview of recent equity research in science education. We next examine the idea of collective morality as we have conceptualized it as science educators and researchers. Then we discuss how morality and social justice intersect with histories of science and offer a different way to consider equity in science education. Finally, we propose some historical case studies that might be of use to the science education community to illustrate how morality and social justice could be a part of rethinking equity-oriented science education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-353
Number of pages19
JournalCultural Studies of Science Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • Conceptual paper
  • Equity
  • Healing
  • Morality


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