The Environment

  • Tobias Ide


Engagement with school textbooks is promising in research on environmental issues because textbooks are indicative of dominant discourses and contribute to the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next. The first part of this chapter assesses the theoretical and empirical relevance of school textbook analysis for three environment-related fields of study: environmental education, disaster education, and critical geopolitics. This section also critically discusses the methods employed for this research. The second part of the chapter suggests promising directions for future research in the three fields of study previously discussed. It also outlines how a focus on school textbooks can enrich other key debates in environment-related social science research, for instance, on environmental governance, environmental security, mitigation, adaptation, and resilience.


  1. Ali, S. H. (2007). A Natural Connection Between Ecology and Peace? In S. Ali (Ed.), Peace Parks: Conservation and Conflict Resolution (pp. 1–18). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bai, Z. G., Dent, D. L., Olsson, L., & Schaepman, M. E. (2008). Global Assessment of Land Degradation and Improvement. Wageningen: ISRIC.Google Scholar
  3. Bajaj, M., & Chiu, B. (2009). Education for Sustainable Development as Peace Education. Peace & Change, 34(4), 441–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barazza, L. (2001). Environmental Education in Mexican Schools: The Primary Levels. Journal of Environmental Education, 32(2), 31–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berger, P., & Luckmann, T. (1967). The Social Construction of Reality. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  6. Bettini, G. (2013). Climate Barbarians at the Gate? A Critique of Apocalyptic Narratives on Climate Refugees. Geoforum, 45(1), 63–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bird, L. (2007). Learning About War and Peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Research in Comparative and International Education, 2(3), 176–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boehn, D., & Hamann, B. (2011). Approaches to Sustainability: Examples from Geography Textbook Analysis in Germany. European Journal of Geography, 2(1), 1–10.Google Scholar
  9. Buttigieg, K., & Pace, P. (2013). Positive Youth Action Towards Climate Change. Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability, 15(1), 15–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cardinale, B. J., Duffy, J. E., Gonzalez, A., Hooper, D. U., Perrings, C., Venail, P., et al. (2012). Biodiversity Loss and Its Impact on Humanity. Nature, 486(7401), 59–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carvalho, G. S., Tracana, R. B., Skujiene, G., & Turcinaviciene, J. (2011). Trends in Environmental Education Images of Textbooks from Western and Eastern European Countries and non-European Countries. International Journal of Science Education, 33(18), 2587–2610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cavanagh, C., & Benjaminsen, T. A. (2014). Virtual Nature, Violent Accumulation: The ‘Spectacular Failure’ of Carbon Offsetting at a Ugandan National Park. Geoforum, 56(1), 55–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cox, R. W. (1981). Social Forces, States, and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theories. Millennium, 10(2), 126–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dalby, S. (2008). Imperialism, Domination, Culture: The Continued Relevance of Critical Geopolitics. Geopolitics, 13(3), 413–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dalby, S. (2014). Environmental Geopolitics in the Twenty-First Century. Alternatives, 39(1), 3–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dittmer, J. (2011). American Exceptionalism, Visual Effects, and the Post-9/11 Cinematic Superhero Boom. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 29(1), 114–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Dittmer, J., & Gray, N. (2010). Popular Geopolitics 2.0: Towards New Methodologies of the Everyday. Geography Compass, 4(11), 1664–1677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Evans, B., & Reid, J. (2013). Dangerously Exposed: The Life and Death of the Resilient Subject. Resilience, 1(2), 83–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fisher, D. R., Waggle, J., & Leifeld, P. (2013). Where Does Political Polarization Come from? Locating Polarization Within the U.S. Climate Change Debate. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(1), 70–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fuchs, E., & Otto, M. (2013). Educational Media, Textbooks, and Postcolonial Relations of Memory in Europe. Journal of Educational Media, Memory and, Society, 5(1), 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fuchs, E., Niehaus, I., & Stoletzki, A. (2014). Das Schulbuch in der Forschung: Analysen und Empfehlungen für die Bildungspraxis. Göttingen: V&R unipress.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gigerenzer, G., & Selten, R. (2002). Bounded Rationality. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  23. Hajer, M. A. (1995). The Politics of Environmental Discourse: Ecological Modernization and the Policy Process. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Haynes, K., & Tanner, T. M. (2015). Empowering Young People and Strengthening Resilience: Youth-Centred Participatory Video as a Tool for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction. Children’s Geographies, 13(3), 357–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Heck, A., & Schlag, G. (2012). Securitizing Images: The Female Body and the War in Afghanistan. European Journal of International Relations, 19(4), 891–913.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ide, T. (2016). Critical Geopolitics and School Textbooks: The Case of Environment-Conflict Links in Germany. Political Geography, 55(1), 61–70.Google Scholar
  27. Ide, T. (2017). Terrorism in the Textbook: A Comparative Analysis of Terrorism Discourses in Germany, India, Kenya and the United States Based on School Textbooks. Cambridge Review of International Affairs. Retrieved from
  28. Ide, T., & Fröhlich, C. (2015). Socio-Environmental Cooperation and Conflict? A Discursive Understanding and its Application to the Case of Israel/Palestine. Earth System Dynamics, 6(2), 659–671.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ingrao, C. (2009). Weapons of Mass Instruction: Schoolbooks and Democratization in Multiethnic Central Europe. Journal of Educational Media, Memory and, Society, 1(1), 180–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. IPCC. (2014). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Geneva: IPCC.Google Scholar
  31. Jamieson, A. J., Malkocs, T., Piertney, S. B., Fujii, T., & Zhang, Z. (2017). Bioaccumulation of Persistent Organic Pollutants in the Deepest Ocean Fauna. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 1(1), 51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Janko, T., & Knecht, P. (2014). Visuals in Geography Textbooks: Increasing the Reliability of a Research Instrument. In P. Knecht, E. Matthes, S. Schütze, & B. Aamotsbakken (Eds.), Methodology and Methods of Research on Textbooks and Educational Media (pp. 227–240). Bad Heilbrunn: Julius Klinkhardt.Google Scholar
  33. Korfiatis, K. J., Stamou, A. G., & Paraskevopoulos, S. (2004). Images of Nature in Greek Primary School Textbooks. Science Education, 88(1), 72–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lässig, S. (2009). Textbooks and Beyond: Educational Media in Context(s). Journal of Educational Media, Memory and Society, 1(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mahamud, K. (2014). Contexts, Texts, and Representativeness. A Methodological Approach to School Textbooks Research. In P. Knecht, E. Matthes, S. Schütze, & B. Aamotsbakken (Eds.), Methodologie und Methoden der Schulbuch- und Lehrmittelforschung (pp. 31–49). Bad Heilbrunn: Julius Klinkhardt.Google Scholar
  36. Manik, S. (2008). (En)viable Attempts at Addressing Education for Sustainable Development Through New Geography Textbooks in Post-Apartheid South Africa. International Textbook Research, 30(2), 621–638.Google Scholar
  37. Mawdsley, E. (2008). Fu Manchu Versus Dr. Livingstone in the Dark Continent? Representing China, Africa and the West in British Broadsheet Newspapers. Political Geography, 27(5), 509–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Naoufal, N. (2014). Peace and Environmental Education for Climate Change: Challenges and Practices in Lebanon. Journal of Peace Education, 14(3), 279–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Owen, J. (2005). Tsunami: Family Saved by Schoolgirl’s Geography Lesson. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from
  40. Porat, D. A. (2004). It’s not Written here, but this is what Happened: Students’ Cultural Comprehension of Textbook Narratives on the Israeli-Arab Conflict. American Educational Research Journal, 41(4), 963–996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Preston, J. (2012). What is Disaster Education? In J. Preston (Ed.), Disaster Education: ‘Race’, Equity and Pedagogy (pp. 1–10). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Ronan, K. R., & Johnston, D. M. (2003). Hazards Education for Youth: A Quasi-Experimental Investigation. Risk Analysis, 23(5), 1009–1020.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rose, G. (2005). Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  44. Sahin, E. (2016). Delving into Key Dimensions of ESD Through Analyses of a Middle School Science Textbook. Discourse and Communication for Sustainable Education, 7(2), 34–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Salmani, B., Hakimzadeh, R., Asgari, M., & Khaleghinezhad, S. (2015). Environmental Education in Iranian School Curriculum: A Content Analyses [sic] of Social Studies and Science Textbooks. International Journal of Environmental Research, 9(1), 151–156.Google Scholar
  46. Sammler, S., Macgilchrist, F., Müller, L., & Otto, M. (2016). Textbook Production in a Hybrid Age: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives on Producing Textbooks and Digital Educational Media. Eckert Dossiers, 6(1), 1–32.Google Scholar
  47. Sauvé, L. (2002). Environmental Education: Possibilities and Constraints. Connect, XXVII(1/2), 1–4.Google Scholar
  48. Schilling, J., Nash, S., Ide, T., Scheffran, J., Froese, R., & von Prondzinski, P. (2017). Resilience and Environmental Security: Towards Joint Application in Peacebuilding. Global Change, Peace and Security, 29(2), 107–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Selbmann, K. (2015). Bio-, Agro- or Even Social Fuels: Discourse Dynamics on Biofuels in Germany. Environmental Values, 24(4), 483–510.Google Scholar
  50. Selby, D., & Kagawa, F. (2012). Disaster Risk Reduction in School Curricula: Case Studies from Thirty Countries. Geneva: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  51. Sharma, A., & Buxton, C. A. (2015). Human–Nature Relationships in School Science: A Critical Discourse Analysis of a Middle-Grade Science Textbook. Science Education, 99(2), 260–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sharpe, J., & Kelman, I. (2011). Improving the Disaster-Related Component of Secondary School Geography Education in England. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 20(4), 327–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Shaw, R., Takeuchi, Y., Gwee, Q. R., & Shiwaku, K. (2011). Disaster Education: An Introduction. In R. Shaw, K. Shiwaku, & Y. Takeuchi (Eds.), Disaster Education (pp. 1–22). Bingley: Emerald Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Shiwaku, K., & Fernandez, G. (2011). Roles of School in Disaster Education. In R. Shaw, K. Shiwaku, & Y. Takeuchi (Eds.), Disaster Education (pp. 45–75). Bingley: Emerald Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sidorov, D. (2009). Visualizing the Former Cold War “Other”: Images of Eastern Europe in World Regional Geography Textbooks in the United States. Journal of Educational Media, Memory and Society, 1(1), 39–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Stanišić, J., & Maksić, S. (2014). Environmental Education in Serbian Primary Schools: Challenges and Changes in Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Teacher Training. The Journal of Environmental Education, 45(2), 118–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Stratford, E. (2016). “Dear Prime Minister…” Mapping Island Children’s Political View on Climate Change. In M. C. Benwell & P. Hopkins (Eds.), Children, Young People and Critical Geopolitics (pp. 123–138). London: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  58. van Leeuwen, T. (2005). Multimodality, Genre and Design. In S. Norris & R. H. Jones (Eds.), Discourse in Action: Introducing Mediated Discourse Analysis (pp. 73–95). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  59. Wada, Y., van Beek, L. P. H., van Kempen, C. M., Reckman, J. W. T. M., Vasak, S., & Bierkens, M. F. P. (2010). Global Depletion of Groundwater Resources. Geophysical Research Letters, 37(20), 1–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Walker, S. (2004). Artmaking in an Age of Visual Culture: Vision and Visuality. Visual Arts Research, 30(2), 23–37.Google Scholar
  61. Wenden, A. L. (2014). Greening Peace and Sustaining Justice. Journal of Peace Education, 11(3), 261–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Wisner, B. (2006). Let Our Children Teach Us! A Review of the Role of Education and Knowledge in Disaster Risk Reduction. Bangalore: Books for Change.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tobias Ide
    • 1
  1. 1.Georg Eckert Institute - Leibniz-Institute for International Textbook ResearchBraunschweigGermany

Personalised recommendations