Let’s begin an exploration of global citizenship…
How often have you read ‘educating global citizens’ as part of school mission statements? Global citizenship education is becoming central to how schools define themselves, yet is it just a marketing catchphrase? What does it mean to be a global citizen and how do schools create them?
Oxfam provides a good definition of a global citizen. A global citizen is someone who:
“is aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen
respects and values diversity
has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially, culturally, technologically and environmentally
is outraged by social injustice
participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from local to global
is willing to act to make the world a more sustainable place
takes responsibility for their actions”
The Moral Element of Global Citizenship
Global citizenship education prepares children for life in an interdependent global environment of intense social, economic and cultural exchange. Beyond encouraging practical cross- cultural skills, global citizenship education centers on what Giroux calls a “moral commitment” for outcomes of peace, hope and equality. Global citizenship is based on ethics and values education. The individual is at the center of a global community. Through complex layers of identity, responsibility and action, the individual is part of the wider network of global connections. Therefore, the mindset of global citizenship requires a development of identity and self. Nussbaum illustrated the individual’s moral obligation to humanity as a whole through concentric circles of self, family, local community, continuing to country and world. Global citizenship is engaging with diversity, and recognizing our common humanity to tackle the challenges that we face as inhabitants of a planet.
Global citizenship is based on critical thought, identity and action. Human agency – action- is an essential outcome of global citizenship education. Awareness of injustice compels an effective global citizen to move to improve society. The Oxfam definition calls for individuals who do not accept inequality and are willing to act, so teachers must be transformative and give students opportunity for action. Global citizens actively participate when they perceive social injustice through advocacy, volunteering and engagement with their local community for a global cause. Action should not be equated with ‘charity’. Action is everyday decision-making and choice. This is an empowering exercise for everyone but especially children.
Giroux, H. (1988). Teachers as Intellectuals: Toward a Critical Pedagogy of Learning. Westport CT: Bergin & Garvey.
Nussbaum, M. (1996). ‘Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism’ in M.Nussbaum & J. Cohen (eds.) For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism. Cambridge: Beacon Press.