Science and Values in Undergraduate Education

Edwin Koster, Henk W. de Regt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


While a conception of science as value free has been dominant since Max Weber defended it in the nineteenth century, recent years have witnessed an emerging consensus that science is not – and cannot be – completely free of values. Which values may legitimately influence science, and in which ways, is currently a topic of heated debate in philosophy of science. These discussions have immediate relevance for science teaching: if the value-free ideal of science is misguided, science students should abandon it too and learn to reflect on the relation between science and values – only then can they become responsible academics and citizens. Since science students will plausibly become scientists, scientific practitioners, or academic professionals, and their values will influence their future professional activities, it is essential that they are aware of these values and are able to critically reflect upon their role. In this paper, we investigate ways in which reflection on science and values can be incorporated in undergraduate science education. In particular, we discuss how recent philosophical insights about science and values can be used in courses for students in the life sciences, and we present a specific learning model – the so-called the Dilemma-Oriented Learning Model (DOLM) – that allows students to articulate their own values and to reflect upon them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-143
Number of pages21
JournalScience & Education
Early online date10 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions; Rob Boschhuizen and Hans Radder for their support and advice; and the members of the research group Philosophy of Science and Technology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, for fruitful discussion of earlier versions of this work. This publication was made possible through the support of a grant from the Varieties of Understanding Project at Fordham University and the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of TempletonWorld Charity Foundation.

FundersFunder number
Varieties of Understanding Project at Fordham University
John Templeton Foundation
Fordham University


    • Dialogue
    • Dilemma-oriented learning model
    • Epistemic and non-epistemic values
    • Objectivity
    • Undergraduate education
    • Value-freedom of science


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