The purpose of this paper is to describe how the environment and environmental issues are conceptualized and positioned in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to examine underlying assumptions about the environment. The NGSS are a recent set of science standards in the USA, organized and led by Achieve Inc., that propose science education goals based on the National Research Council report, A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Drawing from critical discourse analysis, we present a detailed textual analysis of the NGSS to identify the positioning of the environment with respect to humans and human activity. This analysis shows patterns in the ways that the environment is conceptualized and inscribed in the standards as an entity separate from people through both exclusion and ambiguity. We also discuss findings about how agency is more often ascribed to actions or activities rather than people and when solutions to environmental issues are included, the focus is on technoscientific solutions. Finally, we provide implications for considering scientific and environmental literacy, education for action, and the role of standards documents in shaping educational practice.
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