Zalles, Daniel R., Derry, Sharon (2010). Expanding 21st Century Science Learning to Encompass Civic Reasoning on Science Issues. SRI International. Solicited white paper submitted to Division of Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences, National Science Foundation.
21st century cyber infrastructures for distributed learning, communication, and knowledge sharing are unprecedented in the opportunities they provide for global citizens to come together to try to solve the great global crises of our time. Science and scientific research plays a critical role, yet to solve these crises requires a range of skills and understandings that include, yet go beyond science. Without such skills and understandings, the cyber infrastructures have the potential to become powerful destructive rather than constructive tools. This white paper proposes an interdisciplinary way of conceptualizing this pantheon of skills and understandings, which we refer to broadly as civic reasoning. We overview and illustrate the characteristics of civic reasoning. Then, we propose lines of research for identifying models of how distributed communities leverage cyber infrastructures in the pursuit of discourse and problem-solving around the critical issues of our day. Finally we propose research that channels that understanding into looking critically at how educational programs may need to change to make this broad vision a reality.