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An epistemological framework for nanoscience and nanotechnology literacy

Yawson, Robert M.

The need for a new literacy that will allow for meaningful participation in the rapidly evolving field of nanotechnology is very critical to national development. This need is important for nanotechnology to achieve its full potential. This paper describes and analyzes some contemporary philosophical interpretations of the concept of technological literacy. The paper then focuses on some of the metaphysical assumptions underpinning the techno-scientific literacy framework; and theories governing public understanding of science and technology, as the basis to propose a new technological literacy framework suitable in the era of nanotechnology. A case is made that the new technological literacy framework proposed is a suitable and essential pedagogic endeavour which should be seen as yielding a perspective through which meaning may be infused into the importance of nanotechnology development–a perspective as essential to the informed lay person as it is to the truly literate technologist. The paper concludes by analyzing the implications of the proposed epistemological framework on nanotechnology workforce development and makes recommendations based on this new framework to achieve a 'nanoliterate' society.

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