Lines of Research
|History and Philosophy of Natural Sciences||
The History and Philosophy of Natural Sciences line of research is geared to the promotion of studies and research in History and Philosophy of Science (HFC) and the respective social and cultural relations. It promotes projects that explore controversial issues that contribute to a humane manner of conducting science. Natural Sciences play a strategic role in today´s society, however, in order to understand their potential, limits and ethical, economic and cultural scope we should first master the history of the same, or in other words, we need to describe how scientific knowledge was legitimised socially through case studies that revealed the existence of discontinuities and controversies between science and “pseudoscience” (for example, positive results from the “wrong theory”, or natural theology, alchemy etc.). Such as description includes illustrating values and interests of theoretical elaborations, their connections with analytical, empirical and mathematical aspects involving the debate on what is universal, neutral and practical. On this scale it becomes strategic to analyse the “History of Disciplines”, as it was through the description and recreation of how contributions regarded as decisive today that they established themselves as rational and empirical “truths” and defined other forms of knowledge (common sense, religious thought, philosophic speculation, anthropological knowledge). This approach of History and Philosophy of Science provides possibilities for reflection on the field of scientific and technological education.
|Education, Teaching Training, Educational Technology and Communication in Natural Sciences||
The line of research in education, teacher training, educational technology and communication in Natural Sciences (ECN) encompasses studies of theoretical and practical nature on the relevance – for Education and Teaching – of knowledge of Natural Sciences, with an emphasis on Earth Sciences. It is a well-known fact that natural processes over Geological Time created the environment in which communities now live and evolve. The line of research covers different levels of schooling from primary education to post-graduation and teacher training. The central issue to be answered is: to what extent are Natural Sciences present on a wide scale in the school curriculum and formal and informal education programmes? The multiple answers arising from this theoretical question may include: a) the need for new conceptions to ensure a more harmonious coexistence of societies with nature; (b) educational innovation to create new competencies and skills, with regard to Geosciences in particular and Natural Sciences in general; (c) the importance of people understanding that the phenomena studied by the Natural Sciences interfere with and determine their lives and the scenarios/contexts of the societies to which they belong. This research encompasses the nature of knowledge in Geology, Geosciences and Natural Sciences; the teaching-learning process, curricular policies, curricula and programmes in relation to different levels of teaching, teacher training, scientific dissemination, teaching-learning, teaching material, educational technology and environmental education. The production of teaching resources has been subjected to research within the scope of Communication and Informal Teaching in Geosciences, an area present in the context of the production of EHCT professors and which deals with the disclosure of content and concepts related to Natural Sciences and Earth Sciences, including the analysis of institutions, material supports, processes and means of spreading scientific knowledge. The ECN line of research involves a permanent effort to propose, assess and develop academic and political activities geared to improving the Teaching of Natural Sciences, from primary school to higher education level.
|Geoethics, Geoconservation, Geoheritage, Citizenship and Environmental Legislation||
Geology should not continue to focus on the understanding of the past, but should reflect on the future, both with respect to the use of natural resources and to the generation of waste arising from the exploitation and use of such resources. Thus, Geoethics is an interdisciplinary field between Geosciences and Ethics involving the Earth and the Planetary Sciences, in addition to applied ethics; it deals with human ways of thinking and acting in relation to the meaning of the Earth as a system and model. This includes scientific, technological, methodological and socio-cultural aspects, such as sustainability, development, geodiversity and geoheritage, the conscientious consumption of mineral resources, the appropriate measures for foreseeing and mitigating natural risks, the public disclosure and specialised communication in Geosciences. Furthermore, it recognises the need to take appropriate protocols into account for these topics and Social Learning and Education as strategies in order to meet our sustainability goals.