Who's Asking?

Native Science, Western Science, and Science Education

The answers to scientific questions depend on who's asking, because the questions asked and the answers sought reflect the cultural values and orientations of the questioner. These values and orientations are most often those of Western science. In Who's Asking?, Douglas Medin and Megan Bang argue that despite the widely held view that science is objective, value-neutral, and acultural, scientists do not shed their cultures at the laboratory or classroom door; their practices reflect their values, belief systems, and worldviews. Medin and Bang argue further that scientist diversity—the participation of researchers and educators with different cultural orientations—provides new perspectives and leads to more effective science and better science education.

Medin and Bang compare Native American and European American orientations toward the natural world and apply these findings to science education. The European American model, they find, sees humans as separated from nature; the Native American model sees humans as part of a natural ecosystem. Medin and Bang then report on the development of ecologically oriented and community-based science education programs on the Menominee reservation in Wisconsin and at the American Indian Center of Chicago. Medin and Bang's novel argument for scientist diversity also has important implications for questions of minority underrepresentation in science.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. 1. Introduction: Who’s Asking?
  3. 2. Unsettling Science
  4. 3. Maps, Models, and the Unity of Science
  5. 4. Values Everywhere within Science
  6. 5. Science Reflects Who Does It
  7. 6. Culture and Issues in Cultural Research
  8. 7. Psychological Distance and Conceptions of Nature
  9. 8. Distance, Perspective Taking, and Ecological Relations
  10. 9. Complicating Cultural Models: Limitations of Distance
  11. 10. The Argument So Far
  12. 11. A Brief History of Indian Education
  13. 12. Culturally Based Science Education: Navigating Multiple Epistemologies
  14. 13. Community-Based Science Education: Menominee Focus
  15. 14. Community-Based Science Education: AIC Focus
  16. 15. Partnership in Community: Some Consequences
  17. 16. Summary, Conclusions, and Implications
  18. Notes
  19. References
  20. Index