Anthropocentrism and Microorganisms: Implications for Biosecurity

Keywords: Covid-19, Secondary school, Young people, Anthropomorphism, New Zealand


The world is changing: both a conventional and a vaccine passport are now needed to travel internationally. Mask mandates, and social distancing are the new norm in a rapidly changing society. These measures were put in place to control the spread of the highly infectious and often fatal Covid-19, caused by a viral agent, a microorganism, a zoonosis, and the cause of death for over 6 million people around the world. Considering this, maintaining biosecurity is important around the world to ensure public health. Biosecurity in New Zealand supposes that people including young people understand different pests and diseases that can harm public health. This qualitative study was conducted to gauge the biosecurity knowledge of 171 young people (14–15-year-olds). Young people were tested on their knowledge about biosecurity related plants, animals, and microorganisms. This paper reports specifically on the results of knowledge of microorganisms of young people. Results show that negative anthropocentric views dominate adolescents understanding of microorganisms and anthropomorphism is widely used to explain microorganism activity. An educational programme, targeted at developing a conceptual understanding about microorganisms starting at primary education may help develop a more educated global citizen, one versed in understanding the biology of microorganisms.


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How to Cite
Ram, R. (2023). Anthropocentrism and Microorganisms: Implications for Biosecurity. Teachers’ Work, 20(2), 239-256.