by Lucas Nédélec & Manuel Bachtöld (University of Montpellier, France)
Last April, a group of 15 trainee teachers practiced the cartography of controversy at the faculty of education in Montpellier (France). This tool was presented by the teachers’ trainer as a pedagogical method made for exploring and representing a socio-scientific controversy. Based on the Actor-Network Theory developed by the French sociologist Bruno Latour, the main idea of that type of cartography is to gather, on one unique map, all the actants” (humans and non-human actors from political, economical, ecological, scientific spheres) involved in the issues of the controversy. Other elements can be represented on the cartography to reach a higher level of complexity: vectors representing the interactions between the actants, territories of the controversy, time scale, etc.
These teachers were pre-service biology teachers. They mapped socio-scientific controversies linked with one chapter of their curriculum called “Feeding humanity”. One group chose to work on the “seed war” (the question of who owns the seed varieties used in agriculture) (Figure 1). The second one chose to work on the problem of the compatibility between the development of fast food restaurants and the sustainability of agriculture (Figure 2).
Their cartographies were created during two 3-hour sessions. The post-its represent the actants identified by the trainee-teachers. These post-its can be removed, or others can be added, during the process of exploration of the controversy. Indeed, the cartography is conceived as an evolving material. During the TPD, the cartography method is focused on the importance of the doing and not on the result. Mapping a controversy is a pathway in the inquiry, rather than a final artifact production.