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Broad misconceptions about global climate change (GCC) could hinder efforts to address this large-scale problem, and curricular materials can play a substantial role in what students learn about GCC. This study examines how U.S. high school textbooks and supplemental curricular materials published between 2007 and 2012 portray the causes, consequences, and potential responses to GCC. Our data included text segments related to these topics in five science textbooks, four social studies textbooks, and eight sets of GCC supplemental materials. To analyze these text segments, we conducted several rounds of coding, first categorizing curricula by their acceptance of the human causes of GCC and then coding relevant text segments on several dimensions related to the consequences of and potential responses to GCC. Findings indicate that (1) about half the curricula portray human activity as a major cause of current climate change, (2) most curricula include information about climatic changes but few details about potentially proximal, near-term impacts of GCC, and (3) most curricula offer a narrow set of strategies for responding to GCC. These findings suggest that educators should critically examine curricular materials they use to teach about GCC and that scholars should continually examine how GCC is portrayed to youth.


Publisher Acknowledgement:

This is the author's Accepted Manuscript. The version of record appears here:

Meehan, C. R. & Levy, B. L. M., & Collet-Gildard, L. (2018). Global climate change in U.S. high school curricula: Portrayals of the causes, consequences, and potential responses. Science Education 102(3), 1-29. DOI: 10.1002/sce.21338