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Conferences & lectures

John Rudolph on Why We Teach Science (and Why We Should)

Date & time
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
3:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

Registration is closed


John Rudolph


This event is free


David Pickup



Photo of John Rudolph Photo of John Rudolph

Few people question the importance of science education in American schooling. The public believes it’s the key to economic growth, develops the ability to reason more effectively, and enables us to solve the problems of everyday life. Good science teaching results in all these benefits and more—or so we think. But what if all this is simply wrong? What if the benefits we assume science education produces turn out to be an illusion, nothing more than wishful thinking?

In this talk, John Rudolph examines the reasons we've long given for teaching science and assesses how they hold up to what we know about what students really learn in science classrooms and what research tells us about how people interact with science in their daily lives. The results will surprise you. Instead of more and more rigorous traditional science education to fill the STEM pipeline, Rudolph challenges us to think outside the box and makes the case for an expansive science education aimed instead at rebuilding trust between science and the public.


John L. Rudolph is the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Science Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work focuses on the history of science education in American high schools. He also writes about issues related to the nature of science in the present-day school curriculum and on how the history, philosophy, and sociology of science have been used in science education research. In addition to his position in C&I, he has affiliate appointments in the Department of Educational Policy Studies and the Robert and Jean Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies. He is past editor-in-chief of the Wiley & Sons journal Science Education and National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow.

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