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BNELIT - Datenbank zu Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung: wissenschaftliche Literatur und Materialien
Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung: wiss. Literatur und Materialien (BNELIT)
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Deconstructing action competence: developing a case for a more scientifically-attentive environmental education
Public Understanding of Science
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Environmental education tends to be characterized by a rhetoric of action-taking, and the call for the development of personal action competence is one manifestation of this. This paper critically examines recent work on the concept of action competence. This is seen as a set of capabilities which equip people with the ability to take purposive and focused action, and which embodies a democratic commitment to be participants in the continuing shaping of society—on their own terms and in their own ways. Action competence is seen by some as a crucial outcome for environmental education because it brings together the processes and practices of education with the need to develop democratic citizenship skills and values, and with the nature of the ecological, social and environmental crises facing the world. This paper acknowledges the contribution such concepts make to environmental education, but takes issue with a tendency within action competence to undervalue the place of science in the construction of knowledge and understanding of environmental issues. We argue that, despíte being dismissed by many environmental educators, science has a significant role to play within effective environmental education, particularly through the achievement of scientific literacy and capability, both of which seem fundamental to an understanding of science, environmental issues, and their interrelationship. The paper argues for a more pragmatic conceptualization of action competence in order to encourage broadly-based and scientifically-attentive conceptions of environmental education.