The concept of cultures of curriculum is an iteration of the classification system known as curricular orientations. Intended as a framework for curriculum development and a heuristic for curriculum inquiry, a culture of curriculum is a philosophy-based curricular orientation supported by coherent practices. A curricular culture is characterized by a shared and unifying vision that guides articulation of goals, inspires consensus, and stimulates the desire for change. Diverse cultures of curriculum have existed historically and are enacted in contemporary schools and universities; they are not static. Societal change, scholarly discoveries, and political or ethical discourse influence educators’ knowledge and public beliefs about education. Essentially, this conceptual model involves perceiving curriculum through a cultural perspective, as a series of interwoven dynamics and not merely as explicit content. Curriculum theorized as culture attends to continuing dialogue, values, metaphors, the environment in which education takes place, power relationships, and the norms that affect educators’ and stakeholders’ convictions about right or appropriate education. Subsequently, the cultures of curriculum framework for curriculum inquiry comprises both analysis of beliefs and ethnographic study of lived curriculum. This conceptual model also casts light on curriculum transformation, viewed through the cultural lens as reculturing curriculum. The process begins with inquiry through the cultures of curriculum framework to investigate the extant curriculum in classrooms and schools. Such examination may result in awareness of ad hoc curriculum featuring a multitude of contradictory purposes and activities or the realization that authorized curriculum work conflicts with educators’ philosophies and moral purposes. Concurrently, the study of curricular cultures may stimulate curriculum leadership as educators imagine ways to change their own curriculum work, initiate conversations with colleagues and stakeholders, and eventually commit energies and resources to reculturing curriculum. Rather than making partial modifications to school structures or trying out the latest instructional methods, curriculum transformation informed by the concept of curricular cultures embodies profound change to values, norms, and practices, as well as to classroom and school cultures.
Pamela Bolotin Joseph
Jill M. Bystydzienski
Despite recently improved numbers of women and other historically underrepresented groups in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in U.S. higher education, women continue to lag significantly in comparison with men in many STEM disciplines. Female participation is especially low in computer science, engineering, and physics and at the advanced levels in academic STEM—at full professor and in administrative (department head or chair, dean) positions. While there have been various theoretical approaches to explain why this gender gap persists, a particularly productive strand of research indicates that deeply rooted gendered, racialized, and heteronormative institutional structures and practices act as barriers to a more significant movement of diverse women into academic STEM fields. More specifically, this research documents that a hostile academic climate, exclusionary practices, and subtle forms of discrimination in hiring and promotion, as well as lack of positive recognition of female scientists’ work, account for relatively low numbers of women in fields such as engineering, physics, and computer science. Nevertheless, since the early 2000s, numerous initiatives have been undertaken in U.S. higher education to remedy the situation, and some progress has been made through programs that attempt to transform STEM departments and colleges into more inclusive and equitable academic spaces.
Harriet Zilliacus and Lili-Ann Wolff
The climate crisis calls for changes in all areas of human life. One such area is the education sector, which needs to be the target of urgent reform to be able to support these crucial changes. International sustainability policies call for transformative changes in worldviews that may inspire new ways of thinking and acting. Worldview transformation means a major change in deep-rooted ways of viewing the world that results in long-lasting changes in individuals’ sense of self, their perception of their relationship to the world, and even their entire way of being. Worldviews interface with perceptions of issues like climate change in ways that are frequently overlooked. The climate crisis demands a reorientation and transformation of worldviews, a change in which education can play a pivotal role. Therefore, the crisis also calls for rapid educational policy reforms. A central question is how to make worldview transformation related to sustainability visible in education policy. The general school education curricula in Finland (Grades 1–12) express sustainability as a core aim. However, it is debatable whether educational policy such as the Finnish curricula can promote worldview transformation. Contesting policy objectives and gaps between policy and practice can prevent education from dealing effectively with large worldview quandaries such as the climate crisis. In addition, unclear relationships between research and policy are fundamental obstacles during policy development. Finally, an overriding concern in policy is the lack of focus on urgent global dilemmas; consequently, it does not per se promote learning that could lead to radical change.
Julie Gorlewski and Isabel Nuñez
Curriculum, while often conceived as a static entity delivered as a neutral set of facts arranged in disciplinary categories, is, in reality, a pedagogical artifact—a product generated as a result of decisions made by a range of stakeholders who represent different cultural imperatives linked to contested perspectives about the purposes of school. Students’ and teachers’ experiences of school, then, are dialogic performances of a curriculum that promotes various levels of power and privilege, as well as understandings of equity and diversity. Therefore, whether or not it is recognized, the curriculum delivered in schools serves to either maintain or interrupt the status quo. Given the number of students who participate in public education, curriculum contributes a great deal to shaping the national narrative. Curriculum contributes to social movements, and the nature of the curriculum determines the direction of the movement. Since curriculum development and implementation involves myriad decisions, influence is wielded by those with decision-making power. Social status and cultural capital, both of which are historically linked with political power, largely determine who makes curricular decisions, as well as how decisions are made. These conditions pose challenges for those who have been historically marginalized within educational institutions. Despite obstacles related to systemic inequities, different forms of curriculum can and do contribute to the creation and perpetuation of social movements. Moreover, educators who understand how educational institutions function, how curricular changes occur, and how curriculum can be a source of and vehicle for change can create conditions for transformative activist curricular movements.