When technology, science and culture meet: Insights from ancient Chinese technology

Yeung Chung LEE

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9 Citations (Scopus)


This paper draws together two important agendas in science education. The first is making science education more inclusive such that students from non-Western or indigenous cultures can benefit from culturally relevant curricula. The second is integrating technology into the curriculum under the umbrella of Science–Technology–Society (STS) education to embrace the social aspects of science, with technology serving as a bridge. The advancement of the first agenda is hindered by the pursuance by both Western and non-Western societies of narrow cultural and practical goals without considering the development of science and technology from a cross-cultural perspective. The second agenda is limited by the misconception that technology is applied science, leading to the exclusion from STS discussions of pre-science or indigenous technologies developed by non-Western cultures. Through selected case studies of the evolution of Chinese traditional technologies and their interaction with science, this paper offers a perspective from the Far East, and argues for situating culturally responsive science education in broader historical and cross-cultural contexts to acknowledge the multi-cultural contributions to science and technology. A form of cross-cultural STS education is advanced, encompassing the cultural basis of technological developments, technology diffusion, interactions of traditional technology with science, and the potential development of traditional or indigenous technologies. This approach provides a bridge between the existing universal science education paradigm promoted in the West and the different forms of multi-cultural education advocated by indigenous science educators. To translate theory into practice, a conceptual framework is proposed in which the essential transdisciplinary knowledge base, curricular goals, and pedagogical approaches are embedded. Copyright © 2017 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-515
JournalCultural Studies of Science Education
Issue number2
Early online dateOct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Lee, Y. C. (2018). When technology, science and culture meet: Insights from ancient Chinese technology. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 13(2), 485-515. doi: 10.1007/s11422-017-9805-5


  • Cross-cultural science education
  • STS education
  • China
  • Ancient technology


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