Volume 2, Number 2 (2009)

Natural Science Pedagogy and Anarchist Communism: Developing a Radical Curriculum for Physical Geography in the US

Salvatore Engel-Di Mauro

Department of Geography, State University of New York, New Paltz


Natural sciences typically enjoy generous institutional support and are regarded as authoritative knowledge. At the point of institutionalised knowledge distribution, as with university classrooms, few challenges have been mounted to the uncritical, if not reactionary, approaches typifying the natural sciences. Recent feminist work provides the only example of systematic and sustained effort at overcoming this, but it scarcely questions the power relations in which the sciences, and the making of scientists, are embedded. An alternative curriculum should therefore be developed and diffused that encourages socially critical and contextualising understandings of natural science and that promotes egalitarian principles, in ways similar to Marxist-inspired radical pedagogy. rough physical geography, geographers are well situated to radicalise natural science education. Kropotkin’s anarchist communist perspective already provides a precedent. Its integration with feminist and radical pedagogy provides one way that the content of physical geography teaching curricula can be radicalised, at least for college-level coursework in the US. To illustrate how to accomplish this, I discuss the development and application of a radical curriculum for an introductory physical geography course.

Keywords: Anarchism, curriculum, natural science, physical geography, radical pedagogy, US