Researching preservice teachers' environmental agency in times of post truth and denial

Year: 2017

Author: Martin, Jenny

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Scientific consensus supports the need for immediate action by governments, businesses and citizens towards ecological sustainability including urgently reducing carbon emissions. However political leaders in the current era do not consistently or universally provide us with role models for scientifically literate citizenship and some populist groups deny scientific claims. How then in the "post-truth" era, do preservice teachers learn to enact environmental agency?
Our research stems from our concern as science educators to provide a critical space within which preservice teachers ultimately develop professional agency as members of the teaching profession, but also environmental agency as a proponent of their professional capacity. Drawing upon sociocultural theory we define environmental agency in relational terms as positioning in a social act as responsible for pro-environmental action.
The social acts that we analyze are online blogs published in 2016 by preservice primary teachers in the first year of their Bachelor of Education. Each blog is a record of the preservice teacher's weekly reflections on course material related to learning science for ecological and social justice over a twelve-week Semester. Our analysis is concerned with understanding how and to what extent the preservice teachers position themselves in their online accounts a) as environmentally agentic, and b) in relation to post-truth and populist political discourse, and the extent to which the online forum used to publish their reflective accounts could be understood as mediating environmental agency. The results will contribute to the development of action-oriented approaches to scientific literacy, initial teacher education and education research.