2061 Connections
An electronic newsletter for the science education community

May 2010

What History Can Teach Us about Science Education

Science Education Leadership

Science Education Leadership: Best Practices for the New Century, just out this year from NSTA Press, takes on the challenges faced by today’s science education leaders and offers a range of essays that examine what leaders at all levels need to do to promote science literacy and improve science programs for all students.

Project 2061 Deputy Director George DeBoer has contributed a chapter to the book’s section on “Leadership that Engages the Public in the Understanding of Science.” (The other essay in this section also comes from a AAAS author, Tiffany Lohwater, who writes on “Science Communication and Public Engagement With Science.”)

DeBoer’s chapter, “Leadership for Public Understanding of Science,” focuses on the formal system of schools and the role they have played in the public’s understanding of science. DeBoer takes a historical approach to the examination of three questions about leadership for public understanding of science:

  • What arguments have been made for what the public should know about science and why they should know it?
  • What have been the implications of these arguments for public understanding of science in K–16 education?
  • What leadership has been successful in accomplishing the goals of public understanding of science?

Tracing these questions from the mid-19th century through today’s 21st century context, DeBoer emphasizes that leadership in our democracy is a distributed activity, coming from many places and levels. Access the chapter in full below to learn more about how leadership in science education has been—and continues to be—exercised by individual scientists, science educators, professional organizations, and members of the administration and Congress.

Read the entire DeBoer chapter. [PDF, 1402KB]

To order Science Education Leadership: Best Practices for the New Century, please visit the NSTA Science Store..


DeBoer, G. E. (2010). Leadership for public understanding of science. In J. Rhoton (Ed.), Science Education Leadership: Best Practices for the New Century (pp. 277–311). Alexandria, VA: NSTA Press.

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For more information about the chapter presented here, please contact:

Deputy Director: Dr. George DeBoer, (202) 326-6624

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