Published In

Citizens First! Democracy, Social Responsibility and Chemistry



Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Deliberative democracy, Chemistry -- Study and teaching, Science -- Study and teaching -- Curricula, Science and state


Science education communities have called for rethinking curricula to improve student understanding of the nature of science and the role of science in addressing controversial modern issues such as climate change, energy policy, and pollution levels. One approach to meeting this call is integrating these topics into class activities that require students to use discussion and scientific approaches to solve problems and deliberate potential policy solutions. Deliberative democracy (DD) is one such active learning approach in which students work in peer groups to reach a consensus on a scientific topic relevant to both real-world issues and course content. During DD modules, students are asked to explore both the scientific data and public perception surrounding a topic by reading related peer-reviewed and media articles. Students evaluate the information provided by these sources, have the opportunity to research their own sources, deliberate in groups, and arrive at an evidence-supported position on a science policy. There are some examples in the literature of using DD in nonmajors science courses, and recently Portland State University (PSU) began incorporating DD modules into both on-sequence and off-sequence general chemistry courses for science majors enrolling between 60 and 200 students. This chapter provides background on DD, explains how DD has been adapted for majors-level general chemistry at PSU, highlights perceptions of DD by students and instructors, and describes how feedback from PSU students and instructors is informing future DD implementation at PSU.


Reprinted with permission from (Komperda, R., Barbera, J., Shortlidge, E. E., & Shusterman, G. P. (2018). Connecting Chemistry to Community with Deliberative Democracy. In Citizens First! Democracy, Social Responsibility and Chemistry (Vol. 1297, pp. 81-98): American Chemical Society. Copyright (2018) American Chemical Society."



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