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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Environmental citizenship in Chilean school textbooks : a case study on environmental citizenship education in Chilean basic-education textbooks of 2012 Acuna, Victor


The role of education in the formation of citizens, particularly from the perspective of sustainable development, has strongly influenced the Chilean environmental-education curriculum since Chile’s educational reform of the 1990s. The school textbooks provided by the Chilean Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) are an important resource for teachers and students in Chilean public and private-subsidized education. This study explores how Chilean school textbooks for basic-education (elementary years) appear to convey relationships between citizens and the environment. Apart from the Chilean context, similar studies have focused on identifying conceptions and social representations of the environment and the human-environment relationship among students, teachers, curricula, and textbooks. In this study, I specifically explore school textbooks and focus the inquiry on three aspects that appear to link environmental citizenship, sustainability, and education: awareness, values, and civic action. For the purpose of this interpretive study, I conducted a qualitative content analysis to examine the text and images in school textbooks for grades one, four, and eight for two compulsory subjects in Chile: Natural Science and History, Geography, and Social Science. These textbooks seem to represent civic-environmental relationships generally at local and national scales. The textbooks also appear to encourage environmental care mainly as an individual or personal duty and scientific attitudes, skills, and knowledge focusing mostly on material and practical aspects of the human-environmental system. The results of this study intend to advance our knowledge and understanding of how Chilean textbooks for the public and private-subsidized educational systems represent citizen-environment relationships. These representations appear to disconnect humans from dimensions that regard the environment symbolically and promote collective deliberation and participation. This study may guide interested ministries of education and publishers in the production of future school textbooks that may better foster sustainable and participative relationships between citizens and the environment.

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