Winter 2024: From the Editors

 For the Winter 2024 issue of Science Education and Civic Engagement: An International Journal, we are delighted to feature two project reports and an engaging conversation from the 2023 SENCER Summer Institute. These contributions reflect a variety of creative connections between science education and civic engagement.

Kerri Shelton from Columbus State University in Georgia reports on work done by a team of undergraduate researchers (chemistry and nursing majors) who worked to analyze 20th-century medical kits at the Columbus Museum. The analysis provided museum staff with information that will help in the proper curation and storage of the kits. In addition, the information gathered provided the Columbus community with a better understanding of medically related items in the 20th century. The work described in the project report is a good example of civic engagement benefitting a community by increasing the understanding of its own history. (download the PDF here)

Grant Fore et al. (Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis, University of Michigan, Butler University) share a study of student learning outcomes in courses that utilized farm-situated place-based experiential learning modules. The authors also examine the potential influence of two significant external experiences—the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests against police brutality after the murder of George Floyd. The study used a combination of measures of characteristics such as environmental science literacy, civic-mindedness, and sense of place along with focus groups to explore how place-based experiential learning and these significant societal events impacted student learning. (download the PDF here)

 Our final article is a revised and adapted transcript of a conversation between Sara Tolbert and Geraldine Mooney Simmie from the 2023 SENCER Summer Institute on the topic of science/STEM education, democracy, and civic engagement in a fast globalizing and increasingly unequal world. The dialogue draws from the four SENCER ideals to examine the complexity of constantly changing ethical, sociocultural, and political relations between STEM education and democracy. Tolbert and Mooney- Simmie explore commonly used phrases such as “teaching and learning,” “problem-posing,” “civic engagement,” and “inclusion” in the context of STEM education policy in Ireland and New Zealand. The conversation provides an international perspective on ideas important to the larger SENCER community and argues for a reappraisal of how we frame the problem of STEM learning and democracy.  (download PDF here)

We would like to thank all the authors for sharing their work with the readers of this journal. 

 Matt Fisher and Trace Jordan Co-Editors-in-Chief 

Marcy Dubroff, Managing Editor

Download the Entire Issue Here


Chemistry in the Museum: 
Elucidation of 1920s Medical Kits

Kerri L. Shelton Taylor, Columbus State University


This project report describes the process of a team of undergraduate researchers (Chemistry and Nursing majors), who analyzed 20th-century medical kits housed at The Columbus Museum (Columbus, GA, USA). Curators and museum personnel were unfamiliar with the contents and needed assistance in identifying the various chemical contents. Items were identified by the Taylor Lab, which was followed by fully elucidating the chemical information in a chemical report and student-curated exhibit. The intent of this project was to help the museum be aware of how to properly curate and store the medical collections for an extended period. Laboratory analyses were executed to determine the composition of the aged items in the collections. The historical context of these kits and their contents provided knowledge of medicine to the community of Columbus, Georgia, in addition to explaining the use of medically related items in the 20th century. 

Download the PDF here

Cultivating Sustainability Praxis on a Campus Farm

Grant A. Fore, Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis
Brandon H. Sorge, Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis
Francesca A. Williamson, University of Michigan Medical School
Julia L. Angstmann, Butler University


This mixed methods study investigates student learning outcomes from undergraduate STEM and non-STEM courses, employing farm-situated place-based experiential learning (PBEL) modules at a private liberal arts university in the Midwest. Given that these courses occurred during both COVID-19 and U.S. police brutality protests, this study critically interrogates the influence of this “dual pandemic” on student meaning-making. The study examines how student scores on environmental science literacy, civic-mindedness, sense of place, and scientific reasoning measures changed throughout the PBEL courses. With the exception of scientific reasoning, change in each measure was statistically significant (p<0.001). A stepwise linear regression determined whether any measures predicted civic-mindedness. Environmental science literacy and university place attachment were found to be predictive of civic-mindedness. Focus group data revealed how PBEL modules affected student learning outcomes and how the dual pandemic affected student civic-mindedness and place attachment.

Download article here