STEPWISE Resource Development & Research

Welcome to the home page of the STEPWISE resource development and research wiki.

In this wiki, teachers, student-teachers, members of community action groups, students, educational researchers, and others develop resources designed to encourage and enable people to take researched and negotiated action(s) to address potential personal, social and/or environmental problems associated with fields of science and technology. In synchrony with resource development, we conduct educational research to learn more about STEPWISE.

Societies could, in our view, benefit greatly from increasing levels and kinds of socio-political action. There are many serious potential problems threatening the wellbeing of individuals, societies and environments (WISE). Arguably the most pressing concerns relate to potentially catastrophic climate change, but others include potential health and social justice problems associated with: fast foods and other processed foods, pharmaceuticals and agricultural research and practice. Although many people have relatively grave concerns about potential problems like those noted above, others appear to be less bothered by them. Supporters of neoliberalism, for instance, seem more interested in maximizing profits than worrying about potential negative side-effects — such as those noted above — of for-profit goods and services. Indeed, a legal right of corporations is that they may externalize their costs — which involves leading others to pay costs (e.g., disposal) associated with goods and services. Food manufactures may, for instance, externalize to governments and individuals costs of health care associated with various illnesses arising from food additives — such as salt, sugar, preservatives, fats, etc. Similarly, pharmaceutical companies may produce drugs based on government-funded research in universities that sometimes is so expeditious that the integrity of that research — and corresponding health effects of the associated drugs — has been called into question.

Ontario's curriculum mandates educators to help students to learn about 'STSE' relationships (including issues like those above) - examples of which are provided at: STSE Issues (also: WISE Problems). In the USA and elsewhere, these are known as socioscientific issues (SSIs). Ontario also makes provisions for students to develop plans of action to address STSE/SSI issues. We think, though, that students need to act on their plans to fully understand them (and to help the world!). Kinds of actions include those at: WISE Actions. Students might, for instance, develop posters, flyers, etc. to educate others. However, because many of the problems are structural (built into systems), it may be best to - directly or indirectly - aim actions at people in power.

To encourage and enable students (and others) to take sociopolitical actions to address STSE/SSI issues, people might consider the STEPWISE curricular & instructional framework. A linear version of STEPWISE, which several teachers have used, is at: STEPWISE Pedagogy.

If you would like to participate in developing and/or field-testing (e.g., in your teaching) instructional resources based on STEPWISE, please contact Dr. Larry Bencze at: larry.bencze@utoronto.ca.

With our efforts, we hope to reduce - or eliminate - STSE problems wherever and whenever they occur!