Optimistic Fiction as a Tool for Ethical Reflection in STEM
Journal article, 2021

Greater emphasis on ethical issues is needed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The fiction for specific purposes (FSP) approach, using optimistic science fiction texts, offers a way to focus on ethical reflection that capitalizes on role models rather than negative examples. This article discusses the benefits of using FSP in STEM education more broadly, and then explains how using optimistic fictions in particular encourages students to think in ethically constructive ways. Using examples of science fiction texts with hopeful perspectives, example discussion questions are given to model how to help keep students focused on the ethical issues in a text. Sample writing prompts to elicit ethical reflection are also provided as models of how to guide students to contemplate and analyze ethical issues that are important in their field of study. The article concludes that the use of optimistic fictions, framed through the lens of professional ethics guidelines and reinforced through ethical reflection, can help students to have beneficial ethical models.

STEM pedagogy

fiction for specific purposes


science fiction

ethical reflection


Kathryn Strong Hansen

Chalmers, Communication and Learning in Science, Language and Communication (Chalmers)

Journal of Academic Ethics

1570-1727 (ISSN)

Vol. In Press

Subject Categories


Languages and Literature


Learning and teaching

Pedagogical work



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