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STEM: Silver bullet for a viable future or just more flatland?

Smith, CJ and Watson, JM 2018 , 'STEM: Silver bullet for a viable future or just more flatland?' , Journal of Futures Studies, vol. 22, no. 4 , pp. 25-44 , doi:

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This article explores contentious issues that arise from unproblematised calls for STEM (the disciplines ofScience, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology) to provide innovative solutions to two existential problems of the21st century: employment and environmental sustainability. We situate STEM as a neoliberal construct within a hypermodernisttechno-optimist future, a manifestation of Wilber’s “flatland”. We argue that while STEM undoubtedlyplays an important role into the future, rather than being taken at face value as an unexamined good, its taken-forgrantedbut contradictory role is naïve and misplaced and must be subject to serious critique. We argue that in itscurrent conceptualisation, STEM’s role is inherently unable to provide the sustainability of future employment in aknowledge-based economy. We question the enthusiastic promotion of STEM as key contributor to an environmentallysustainable future as we enter the epoch of the Anthropocene, and examine the role of STEM education, in contrast toEducation for Sustainability (EfS). We conclude that STEM and STEM education need to include critical and futuresperspectives in order to align more fully with a flourishing economic, social and environmental future.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Smith, CJ and Watson, JM
Keywords: STEM futures, sustainability
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Futures Studies
Publisher: Tamkang University Graduate Institute of Futures Studies
ISSN: 1027-6084
DOI / ID Number:
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Copyright 2018 Tamkang University Graduate Institute of Futures Studies

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