Practice Brief 61 -- Topics: Instruction Practices Equity Culture

Using science investigations to develop caring practices for social-ecological systems

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Why It Matters To You
  • Educators should create opportunities for learners to build relationships with various more-than-humans in local ecosystems and support inquiry processes that derive from learners’ concern and care for their relations.
  • District staff & PD Providers should help educators learn about local flora and fauna and engage through place-based education to support learners’ building of multispecies relationships.
  • School leaders should ensure that educators have sufficient time, space, and resources to engage learners in STEM field investigations.

What is the Issue?

How can we be more present for other species at a time of ecological devastation? Developing deep commitments to the human and more-than-human inhabitants of ecosystems is crucial for cultivating students’ caring knowledge and practices within the escalating challenges of the climate crisis. More-than-humans are typically represented in STEM curricula as objects of observation or utility rather than dynamic beings with rights to act and be recognized. All learners should build interdependent, caring relationships with more-than-humans focused on shared thriving to promote ecological identities, deep STEM learning about local places, and responsibilities.



Reflection Questions

  • Reflect on your relationships with human and more-than-human inhabitants of local ecosystems. How can you model for students how to build similar multispecies relationships?
  • How are your students currently building sustained relationships with the more-than-human inhabitants of local ecosystems?
  • How can you provide learning opportunities to students so that they learn about the interconnectedness and dynamics of ecosystems and how to engineer thriving multispecies communities?

Things to Consider

Attending to Equity

Recommended Actions You Can Take


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This site is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Award #1920249 (previously through Awards #1238253 and #1854059). Opinions expressed are not those of any funding agency.

Work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License. Others may adapt with attribution. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Opinions expressed are not those of any funding agency.