Submit a Manuscript to the Journal

International Journal of Science Education

For a Special Issue on

The science curriculum: Issues, tensions and future prospects

Abstract deadline
31 March 2023

Manuscript deadline
01 October 2023

Cover image - International Journal of Science Education

Special Issue Editor(s)

Victoria Millar, University of Melbourne
[email protected]

Wonyong Park, University of Southampton
[email protected]

Justin Dillon, University College London
[email protected]

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The science curriculum: Issues, tensions and future prospects

Science education researchers have a long history of identifying and addressing fundamental questions around what the science curriculum should encompass. Millar and Osborne’s seminal report Beyond 2000 critically examined the aims of science education at a time when international curricula were seen to be little more than an agglomeration of content. During the 25 years after the publication of Beyond 2000, discussions of the curriculum and the broad mission of school science have continued. Indeed, science education faces increasingly difficult questions about what is valuable for students to know about science and how this relates to what we want students to become.

Curriculum is a complex concept as it covers a range of practices, influences and issues across different levels of education. On the one hand, curriculum is concerned with the practice of curriculum development and enactment as undertaken by educators, covered by such ideas as the intended, enacted and experienced curriculum. As a result of the postmodern turn, however, curriculum is also seen to reflect ‘what counts’ as valid knowledge at a particular time and as being political and ethical in that the question of what is valid knowledge will be answered differently and have different consequences for different learners. Trends and movements in curriculum often reflect the values of the time and who has power and influence over the curriculum.

The explosion of new knowledge and technology in science continues to raise tensions between the inclusion of older fundamentals and more contemporary science discoveries within curricula. In recent times there has increasingly been a focus on the idea of interdisciplinary STEM and the competences needed for the 21st century amongst teachers and policy makers. In addition, issues of trust, post-truth and misinformation that were present prior to the Covid-19 pandemic have been amplified as a result of the pandemic and persistent political instability. There is also an increasing desire to examine how decolonisation, inequality and social justice should be addressed and whether curriculum decisions have a gatekeeping effect that lock some students out of science.

In this special issue, which would partly celebrate 25 years since Beyond 2000 but also seek to illuminate current issues and future trends in the light of recent and urgent events, we aim to provoke theoretically and empirically driven discussion. We welcome papers across all levels of education, those concerned with different countries and contexts and those that bring together common or diverse issues. In particular, we would seek papers that address questions such as:

  • What should be the aims for science education, both for individuals and society? To what extent do we as a community agree on these aims?
  • How should those responsible for the science curriculum respond to long-term and newly-emerged issues facing society including wicked problems?
  • How do we balance science literacy for all with the science understanding required by those wanting to pursue post-compulsory science in the school curriculum? [And, indeed, does the notion of science literacy have any value these days?]
  • How should the responses to the previous questions inform future science curriculum structure and development and what should be the role of government and the science education community in future?
  • How can recent advances in curriculum theory be mobilised to inform and improve the science curriculum? For example, how do ideas such as ‘powerful knowledge’ relate to established traditions such as Bildung?
  • To what extent should the aims and the content of science curriculum vary across cultures and education systems?
  • Whose voices, interests and needs are represented in the making and enactment of a science curriculum?

Submission Instructions

The review process for the special issue will take place in two stages. In Stage 1, potential authors will submit an extended abstract outlining key ideas of the proposed manuscript, including the manuscript’s approach (e.g., conceptual, philosophical, historical, empirical) research questions, methods, main findings and contributions. This extended abstract should not exceed 500 words. The guest editors will review the extended abstracts to invite full manuscript submissions based on the potential of proposed manuscripts to offer insights for the science curriculum. The submission of extended abstract and all queries should be addressed to Victoria Millar ([email protected]).

In Stage 2, invited manuscripts will go through a double-blind review process using the same standards and evaluation criteria as all manuscripts submitted to the IJSE. Manuscripts should not exceed 8,500 words in length, inclusive of tables, references and captions.

March 31, 2023  Deadline for submission of extended abstracts

April 30, 2023  Notification of acceptance

October 1, 2023  Deadline for submission of full papers

December 15, 2023  First round of feedback on full papers

February 29, 2024  Deadline for submission of revised papers

April 30, 2024  Final decision

Mid to late 2024  Publication of Special Issue

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