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Making biodiversity meaningful through environmental education
International Journal of Science Education
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Biodiversity is an emerging theme in science, society and, more recently, education. There is no one single definition of biodiversity that is adequate in all situations. Both the knowledge base and the value base of biodiversity are variable and questionable. Because of these characteristics, biodiversity makes for an interesting vehicle for linking science and society, and the investigation of the normative underpinnings of 'science-in-the making'. Based on a 3-year study, this paper explores the crossroads between science education and environmental education and presents a framework for tapping the environmental education potential of biodiversity. Outlined are a number stepping stones for making biodiversity meaningful to learners. It is argued that, from the perspective of environmental education, the ill-defined nature of biodiversity is a useful feature. Biodiversity is renewing the discourse on nature conservation issues by bringing together different groups in society that are searching for a common language to discuss nature conservation issues in relation to sustainability issues. The resulting debate allows the socio-scientific dispute character of 'science-in-the-making' to surface. Participation in such a dispute is an excellent opportunity to learn about a highly relevant, controversial, emotionally charged and debatable topic at the crossroads of science, technology and society.