Theme Session 12

Strategies for Success in Bridging the Gap Between Culture, Religion and Science in the Geoscience Classroom

Sadredin C. Moosavi, Walden University
Elizabeth Heise, University of Texas at Brownsville

This session will identify and share successful strategies for geoscience educators at all levels of the educational system confronting cultural and religious objections to geoscience concepts such as the formation and age of the Earth, geologic time scale, and evolution of life as recorded in the fossil record. While most commonly associated with the clash between the teaching of intelligent design and evolution, the ideological, philosophical and cultural diversity of students, parents, educators and community stake holders in the American education system require that geoscience educators navigate a variety of obstacles if they are to successfully engage ALL students in the learning of these important geologic principles. Techniques that empower geoscience educators and learners to work in an open, inclusive environment respectful of different perspectives, while ensuring learning of the current scientific understanding of geoscience principles and their basis in observable and testable experiments will be showcased and discussed. These techniques are meant to serve as an alternative strategy to the litigious warfare exemplified by the Dover, PA, lawsuit and perpetual battles for control of the Kansas school board. Both religious and cultural resistance to the teaching of geoscience principles will be discussed.