Astrobiology in Teacher Training. Addressing research methodology and epistemology in Humanities and social-science classes
Visiting Professor, Department of Protestant Theology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany
2 Professor of Sociology, Department of Sociology, Protestant University of Applied Science, Bochum, Germany
Published online: 1 February 2019
In a preliminary empirical study of social-science and humanities students enrolled in teacher-training programs at two German universities, the authors have found a disparaging view of technology and science among said students. Their material knowledge of technology and science is the result of content they learned in high-school themselves. After having graduated, they chose social-sciences or humanities as their subjects. There is little or no overlap between science and engineering subjects and social-science and humanities subjects in teacher training programs. Apart from the students choices, this is also the consequence of an institutionally established and strict segregation of the academic fields that does not, unlike in other university systems, require the students to enroll in at least basic interdisciplinary courses. The result for science and technology awareness among the students is problematic, to say the least. While their knowledge of science and technology -being the product of high-school education - is often not up to date and also lacking in current developments, their moral and ethical judgement about the implications of scientific research and use of technology is strong. The preliminary study also showed that the students are interested in new technological and scientific developments, they just lack the ability to include this into their worldview, which is very strongly influenced by their choice of subjects in the humanities and social-sciences. Teaching these students has convinced the authors that their lack of technology and science knowledge combined with their inherent tendency to judge science and technology from the point of view of their respective field, impairs their ability to take an adequate part in science and technology discourse. Their awareness, and thus, their competence to rationally engage with science and technology is lacking. That is in part due to the depiction of science and technology in humanities and social-science courses, and on the other hand due to a lack of current science and technology education as part of a humanities and social-sciences program. The result becomes even more alarming if we assume that the future teachers will continue to relay their heavily biased opinions on science and technology in general, as well as their deficient knowledge of specific technologies to their future students, thus generating a vicious cycle of inadequate technology and science awareness. As the authors’ study has shown, these students are really interested in science and technology, they just lack key competencies to make an analytical connec- tion between their field of choice (humanities and social sciences) and technology and science, without resorting to moral and ethical judgement.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2019
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