Environment and environmental protection are on the forefront of political concerns globally. But how are the media and political discourses concerning these issues mirrored in the public more generally and in the discourses of school science students more specifically? In this study, we analyze the discourse mobilized in whole-class conversations of and interviews with 15- to 16-year-old Swiss junior high school students. We identify two core interpretive repertoires (each unfolding into two second-order repertoires) that turn out to be the building blocks of environmental discourse, which is characteristic
not only of these students but also of Swiss society more generally. The analysis of our students’ discourse demonstrates how their use of interpretive repertoires locks them in belief talk that they have no control over ecological issues, which can put them in the danger of falling prey to ecological passivity. As a consequence of our findings we suggest that teachers should be endorsed to interpret their teaching of environmental issues in terms
of the enriching and enlarging of their students’ interpretive repertoires.