Young people in Europe are not acquiring the scientific literacy they need to participate as citizens in democratic decision making about issues that involve science. In addition recruitment to careers in science is falling in Europe which is a challenge to Europe’s future in the knowledge economy We propose to learn how to respond to this situation in collaboration with international partners in countries where engagement with science education remains high. Understanding the dynamics of the relationships between culture, gender and science education in the diverse contexts offered by the countries brought together by this bid, the UK, the Netherlands, Turkey, Lebanon, India and Malaysia, will give us a good basis for designing new approaches to science education that will appeal to all students. We will develop a theoretical understanding of the relationship between cultural diversity, gender and science education and also provide guidelines for effective intervention to improve engagement with science education. One focus will be the impact of Islamic culture and religious belief in a range of contexts. We will use case study and design study approaches to understand the process whereby attitudes towards science are formed between the ages of 10 and 14. The evidence suggests that social networking technologies have contributed to creating a multiplicity of identities amongst young people in a way that can make the apparent unity and authority presented by school science appear irrelevant. In response we will explore using the same technology to engage young people in the real enterprise of science as shared enquiry across boundaries in a spirit of risk and dialogue where issues that matter to the future of the planet are at stake. The outcomes will be literature reviews, insights into how attitudes to science are formed, guidelines for curriculum and pedagogical development to encourage more people to engage with science education and examples of good practice.
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