Energy Policy as a Socio-Scientific Issue: Argumentation in the Context of Economic, Environmental and Citizenship Education

Hagit Shasha-Sharf, Tali Tal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One goal of environmental civic education is preparing students, both as citizens and as professionals, to use effective arguments in public debates. Such debates include dominantly economic claims, which are multifaceted and rarely taught in schools. A learning unit that applied the pedagogical principles of socio-scientific issues was developed for ‘Israel’s Natural Gas Export Policy’, a real sustainability dilemma. The study aimed to understand how pre- and in-service science teachers craft their arguments, by comparing their written reasoned opinions on the gas export debate, before and after the learning unit. Content analysis was conducted using Grounded Theory on the two groups’ texts in a multiple case study design. Five reasoning rationales were found: ‘Profits and Risks’, ‘Ethics or Ideology’, ‘Pragmatic Objectives’, ‘Evidence Base’ and ‘Stakeholder Motivations’. Each rationale yielded different reasoning strategies, including ‘Costs/Benefits’, ‘the Trade-Off Dilemma’ or ‘Compromise’, ‘Compensatory Benefits’ and ‘Non-Compensatory Costs/Risks’. The findings show that both groups used more argument types in the post-task. The development of ‘Profits and Risks’ strategies, between the pre- and post-texts, shows how the teachers’ arguments became more complex and decisive. These results exemplify how the SSI-focused learning unit enables learners to enhance their critical citizenship thinking, one of the cornerstones of democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7647
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 2023


  • argumentation
  • civic education
  • decision making
  • economics
  • public policy
  • socio-scientific issues
  • sustainability education

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


Dive into the research topics of 'Energy Policy as a Socio-Scientific Issue: Argumentation in the Context of Economic, Environmental and Citizenship Education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this