Why ‘Shaping Science Citizens’?

Shaping science citizens is our call to action and our motivation for empowering learners with knowledge and understanding of science to make informed decisions in their day-to-day lives and advocate decisions and action informed by science, for example for environmental changes.

In a world dominated by information sources on the internet, there is a new emphasis on educating students to ‘research, evaluate and use scientific information for decision making and action’.

“….unless…citizens are well informed and well educated in the matters that fundamentally shape their lives, democracy is easily manipulated”

Greta Thunberg, The Climate Book (2022)

Knowledge: both what and how

The science citizens of today need to have not just a knowledge of science, they also need to have a good understanding of how we know the subject and how science works.

“For while true knowledge is a collective good, flawed or fake knowledge is both an individual and collective danger. For instance, the idea that vaccines are harmful endangers not only the lives of those who hold this idea, but the whole community who depends on a high level of vaccination to ensure its health. Obtaining and evaluating scientific information requires not just an understanding of the concepts but knowledge about science.”

PISA 2025 Science Framework

“The scientifically educated individual now needs a basic understanding of the transformations that occur in the trajectory from laboratory to publication, or from ‘test tube to Youtube'”

PISA 2025 Science Framework

Science capital and identity

Science identity is included as a major part of the PISA 2025 Framework based on the principle that while scientific knowledge and competencies are important and valuable for young people’s futures, identity outcomes are also crucial for supporting agency and active citizenship in a rapidly changing world.

Science capital is a concept that is used to refer to a person’s science-related resources, such as their science-related understanding, knowledge, attitudes, activities, and social contacts.

“Students whose science capital is supported and recognised are significantly more likely to aspire to and participate in post-16 science and have a ‘science identity.”

Professor Louise Archer

Moving from awareness to action

This science capital is vital when we consider how to confront challenges such as climate change. PISA has identified a close relationship between someone’s science knowledge and their environmental interest and engagement. To shape science citizens, education must give learners the knowledge of science and skills to apply it throughout their lives.

“To promote a more sustainable and greener future, today’s societies must nurture in young generations not only a solid understanding of science, but also an appreciation of the fragility of the environment and ecosystems.”

OECD ‘Young people’s environmental sustainability conference’

OUP and Science

Through our content, Oxford University Press (OUP) makes a difference to people and planet by raising awareness about social and environmental issues among learners worldwide.

OUP and Science


To help us understand how prepared learners are, OUP has collaborated with the OECD to develop the PISA 2025 Science Framework to help policy makers understand the capabilities and progress of 15-year-olds worldwide in science.