The importance of the human person at the heart of scientific investigation

17th February 2022 : 14:00 - 15:00

Category: Webinar

Speaker: Margaret Blackie, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Location: Zoom webinar, registration required

Audience: Public

The claim of the objectivity of scientific knowledge was at the heart of the push back against decolonisation in the South African context. Exploring the role of the human person in tertiary STEM education has been my driving interest ever since.

In this talk I use critical realism to establish the significance of the particularity of the person who is the chemist. This affords a clear distinction between the objectivity of the canon of chemistry, and the benefit of the creative flair of the individual chemist. This is achieved by locating the reproducibility of the science in the real physical mechanism under interrogation, rather than some quality of rationality embodied in the chemist.

The direct implication is that the value of diversity in the practice of chemistry is immediately obvious. A second outcome is the significance of the ‘community of chemists’ in establishing a culture which has a substantial influence on what counts as valid knowledge. When the person of the chemist is not in view this whole cultural influence retains its causal power but is overlooked by chemists. The implications for chemistry education are then explored.

This webinar is part of the free public seminar programme hosted by the Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE).