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    Using STEAM to Power Equality and Democracy in Vaccination Decision Making in the Face of Climate Apartheid

    Macdonald, Iain and Firth, Richard and Healy, Celine and Malone, Eva and McDermott, Alexandra (2022) Using STEAM to Power Equality and Democracy in Vaccination Decision Making in the Face of Climate Apartheid. Cumulus Conference Proceedings Series Detroit 2022. pp. 120-136.

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    Technology and science are often promoted as the answer to the climate crisis, but changing human behavior from a user-centric position requires a humanistic and Design Thinking approach (Brown 2009). If Climate Apartheid is to be challenged to decrease the divides between social, cultural and economic groups then a participatory and democratic design approach needs to be found. One such challenge of inequality that will increasingly become more acute is the spread of viruses and disease, old and new, as the COVID pandemic has shown. Our study aims to demonstrate how Science Technology Engineering Arts Math (STEAM) education can bring together diverse groups to a common understanding and empower them to have the confidence to advocate change in human behavior from peer-to-peer rather than top down by government. Our study focused on Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccines, which are proven to save lives and eradicate associated cancers, but the uptake of the vaccine among first-year second level schoolgirls in Ireland, to whom it is offered for free, has dropped in recent years (ICS 2020). Building on the experience of a previous pilot study with Biological Science and Design students this project aimed to validate the findings of Authors (2022) with these questions: In what ways can STEAM engage and motivate students to learn about immunology and vaccination? And in what ways can STEAM help them develop the competence and confidence to communicate their understandings about immunology and vaccination? It brought together a team of academics from Education, Design, Biology, the Irish Cancer Society, and Irish post-primary students in an interdisciplinary, intersectoral and international collaboration. Twenty 16-17 year old students, from three post-primary schools, participated in a weeklong series of on-campus STEAM workshops, facilitated by the team. These involved dialogical peer-to-peer teaching and learning (Topping 2009) amongst the participants to co-create localized, culturally inclusive, and scientifically informed stories around HPV vaccination and immunization. Using the principles of active learning (Bransford et al 1999) the students constructed their own knowledge and understanding through drama improvisation, storytelling through scripts and storyboards in an iterative process of presentations and idea selection in a visual thinking methodology (Averinou and Pettersson 2020). A qualitative arts-based research methodology was adopted. The impact of the workshop series was evaluated on 3 key criteria: students’ knowledge of immunology, their confidence in expressing their knowledge about immunology, and their confidence in advocating for vaccination and countering misinformation. Thematic analysis of the data was employed (Clarke et al, 2015). The project highlights key insights that have wider application to combating Climate Apartheid: a STEAM approach is successful in engaging students in active learning and changing their attitudes towards the HPV vaccine from passive to positive; the use of a STEAM approach enabled and encouraged students to become more confident in their understanding of HPV vaccine and immunization and to more confident to advocate for HPV vaccine to peers; combining creative learning and teaching approaches with scientific content can lead to meaningful changes in human behavior.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: STEAM; immunology; drama improvisation; storytelling; advocacy;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Design Innovation
    Item ID: 18309
    Depositing User: Iain Macdonald
    Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2024 11:59
    Journal or Publication Title: Cumulus Conference Proceedings Series Detroit 2022
    Publisher: Cumulus: The Global Association of Art and Design Education and Research
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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