University of Huelva (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 3150-3159
ISBN: 978-84-617-2484-0
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 17-19 November, 2014
Location: Seville, Spain
In the second half of the twentieth century, science has become a new Grail because of its ability to change the world. This evidence highlights the critical place that the technological-scientific advances have for citizenship development in our modern societies.

The central role of sciences in our life was also recognized by the educative staff and the theoretical specialists on learning sciences at the end of 50th when a new concept evolved with the name of “scientific literacy”. In Spain, this topic was widely discussed in the last decade. The main purpose of the scientific literacy is to get people to have an adequate level of scientific knowledge in order to understand, evaluate and make decisions about the development of science and its technological applications. The legislation in Spain considers this goal in all laws concerning the educative system from LOGSE (1999) to LOMCE (2013) where scientific literacy is implicit in both the list of objectives and skills development in the period of compulsory education for the entire population. Moreover, scientific literacy is considered necessary to critically confront new ethical challenges of applied sciences.

However, the recent story of our civilization led to the existence of two cultures clearly differentiated in their methods and apparently contradictory in their final objectives, i.e. sciences vs. humanities. In a Rede Lecture, held in 1959, C.P. Snow triggered a broad discussion by saying that the intellectual life of the whole of western society was split into two cultures and consequently this would lead to a major obstacle to solving the world’s problems. But, in 1962, the same author proposed a new way to facilitate communication between science and literature. He named this way The Third Culture. This proposal was picked up more recently (1995) by John Brockman by publishing a book entitled The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution.

The Third Culture is a topic regarding the necessary and permanent dialog between intellectuals from the science and humanity cultures, as the way to analyze and solve the new problems evolved after science and technology have been established in our current life. In a recent book (1998), the prestigious biologist E.O. Wilson proposed the term “consilience” to define the synthesis of knowledge resulting from convergence of evidences from independent, unrelated sources. In spite of this thinking, our education system has not assumed this concern and even it enhances this gap in our students since they have to decide relatively early between specific pathways defining their humanistic or their scientific careers. An exception must be considered: the existence of transversal knowledge formation and competences development in some areas of strong social impact as health, environment or equality.

According to the philosophy of the Third Culture, transversal education may be extended to all major topics of the curriculum in the scholar period, because all cultural production of humans may be analyzed from a multidisciplinary but inclusive point of view. The implementation of these principles represents a challenge where teacher is configured as a key figure, not only for his/her academic and pedagogical training, but because he/she should promote a climate that encourages students curiosity, attention and active participation. In this way, the teaching-learning binomial will successfully respond to the demands of our society.
Scientific Literacy, Third Culture, Transversal Education.