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STEM: Silver bullet for a viable future or just more flatland?


Smith, C and Watson, J, STEM: Silver bullet for a viable future or just more flatland?, Journal of Futures Studies, 22, (4) pp. 25-44. ISSN 1027-6084 (2018) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 Tamkang University Graduate Institute of Futures Studies

DOI: doi:10.6531/JFS.201806.22(4).0003


This article explores contentious issues that arise from unproblematised calls for STEM (the disciplines of Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology) to provide innovative solutions to two existential problems of the 21st century: employment and environmental sustainability. We situate STEM as a neoliberal construct within a hypermodernist techno-optimist future, a manifestation of Wilberís "flatland". We argue that while STEM undoubtedly plays an important role into the future, rather than being taken at face value as an unexamined good, its taken-forgranted but contradictory role is naÔve and misplaced and must be subject to serious critique. We argue that in its current conceptualisation, STEMís role is inherently unable to provide the sustainability of future employment in a knowledge-based economy. We question the enthusiastic promotion of STEM as key contributor to an environmentally sustainable future as we enter the epoch of the Anthropocene, and examine the role of STEM education, in contrast to Education for Sustainability (EfS). We conclude that STEM and STEM education need to include critical and futures perspectives in order to align more fully with a flourishing economic, social and environmental future.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:STEM, futures, sustainability, education
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Political science
Research Field:Environmental politics
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences
UTAS Author:Smith, C (Dr Caroline Smith)
UTAS Author:Watson, J (Professor Jane Watson)
ID Code:125088
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:3
Deposited By:Education
Deposited On:2018-03-27
Last Modified:2019-01-10

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