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We're (not) only in it for the money (Frank Zappa). The financial structure of STEM and STEAM research
Book Contribution - Chapter
The development of the philosophy of science in the 20th century has created a framework where issues concerning funding dynamics can be easily accommodated. It combines the historical-philosophical approach of Thomas Kuhn (1962) with the sociological approach of Robert K. Merton (1973), linking the ‘exact’ sciences to economy and politics. Out of this came a new domain, namely the study of scientific practices (Pickering, 1992). In this article we will argue why the study of practices is so interesting. The reasons are plentiful. To list the most important of them in order to understand the entanglement of research and funding dynamics: (a) practices have a material aspect, (b) practices are related to learning, (c) practices have a social nature, and (d) practices are easily linked to other practices, e.g., economical practices involving the funding processes. There is an additional reason why practices are interesting: (e) they go together extremely well with “(actor)-network thinking”, the locus of these practices. Many such networks are easily identifiable: the scientific network, the technological network, the economic network (including funding networks), the societal network (including the educational network), and (e) the cultural network. It is from this holistic approach that we can have a full understanding of the funding dynamics and how they influence researchers and their research. Given this broad theoretical framework, we will specify by looking at the case of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and its variant Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics with Art (STEAM) education as an example par excellence. Quite some funds are invested in STEM to raise awareness of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (which we will call the weak thesis) and to increase STEM-knowledge that can serve as a stronger fundament for the knowledge based society (which we will call the strong thesis). We make no difference between the financial support of the educational part and the research part of the STEM/STEAM project. Both are related and most universities promote a research based education. Without going into the technical details of the financial support of the projects, we prefer to open a philosophical debate on the way how policies on academic subjects influence a whole society and the personal life of both researchers and people/pupils involved in education.
Book: Educational Research: Ethics, Social Justice, and Funding Dynamics
Series: educational research
Number of pages: 14
Keywords:Mathematical Education, music education, funding, STEM, STEAM