The purpose of our article is to report on practices to advance global citizenship through Education for Sustainable Development. We use the Critical Cosmopolitan Theoretical Framework as a lens for our article. Critical Cosmopolitan Theory (Byker, 2013; 2016, 2019) emerged from grounded, empirical research on the implementation of global competencies in teacher preparation courses. Critical Cosmopolitan Theory combines the Asia Society’s (Mansilla & Jackson, 2011) global competency matrix with Paulo Freire’s (1970) notions of conscientization and with Kwame Appiah’s conceptions of cosmopolitanism. The Asia Society’s four global competencies are: (1) investigate the world,  (2) recognize perspectives, (3) communicate ideas, and (4) take action.  In a nutshell, Critical Cosmopolitan Theory describes the “symmetry of knowledge and skills to act critically as a citizen of the world”  (Byker, 2016, p. 265).  As teacher educators, we have found that undergraduate students and teacher candidates are often curious about the Asia Society’s four global competencies. They can readily identify these competencies, give examples of each competency, and complete activities related to each competency. However, undergraduate students and teacher candidates tend to compartmentalize the global competencies rather than seeing the competencies as a continuum towards the development of critical consciousness for global citizenship (Byker & Marquardt, 2016; Byker & Putman, 2019; Byker & Xu, 2020). Thus, Critical Cosmopolitan Theory emerged as a framework for supporting undergraduate students' and teacher candidates’ development of the interrelationship among global competencies and conscientization or being critically engaged with global issues. Sustainability is an area of global engagement for global citizens. There is a need— starting even at the early childhood level of education— for young people to understand the importance of sustainability. It is critical that future teachers are prepared to engage with issues of sustainability.

We define sustainability as society’s ability to meet its needs without depleting the ability to meet the needs of future generations. Sustainability can be thought of as being anchored in three pillars: the environmental, the economic, and social (Cabezudo et al., 2010; Mensah, 2019). Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is a facet of global education that attends specifically to the three pillars of sustainability (Cabezudo et al., 2010). ESD prioritizes and cultivates students’ capacity for problem solving so as to equip students to be oriented towards sustainable action in economic, environmental, and socially responsible ways. We contend that to develop a shared sense of responsibility for the planet, educators must appeal to the affective, as well as find ways to make sustainability content resonate with students. This is becoming harder and harder to do in a highly technological world as many young people are not spending as much time outdoors connecting with nature as in generations past (Byker, 2014). For this reason, it is imperative that educators find ways to bring these experiences to students during the school day, whether it be through the planting of a pollinator garden, taking walks through nature, or connecting with wildlife. Positive experiences with nature are key in order for students to not just acquire knowledge of sustainability issues, but to act on this knowledge to create change. 

Many educators find it difficult to find time to teach sustainability topics in the wake of mandated curriculums, standardized testing, and constant pivots in instructional time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges are valid during this unprecedented time. However, a shift in mindset may open up new possibilities for sustainability education in the classroom. Rather than viewing sustainability education as another content area to be taught, discovering its intersection with global education could be the avenue by which we ensure its place in the everyday school curriculum. For example, children’s literature can provide teachers with a starting place for talking about global sustainability challenges (Holshouser & Medina, 2021). These books can provide the language needed to discuss these issues with children without oversimplifying the connection between many of our sustainability challenges. In fact, global education and sustainability education can support one another. For example, the integration of sustainability education and global education at Global Ready schools in the State of North Carolina, the United States of America, has revealed that global education without integration of sustainability education runs the danger of over-simplification. Focusing only on holiday traditions, clothing, and foods without understanding why these ways of life or patterns of living were developed in the first place may give way to stereotypical thinking and surface level cultural understanding. This sentiment was communicated by a Global Ready school teacher who explained the importance of young people understanding the “why” behind so much of what people do, whether it is the types of homes they have, the clothes they wear, the foods they eat and those kinds of things.  Many of these “why” questions can be answered through the lens of Education for Sustainable Development, which reflects the broader goals of critically engaged global citizenship.

In 2015, the United Nations directed our attention to some of the most pressing sustainability issues we are facing globally through the establishment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Comprising 17 goals, the SDGs provide a framework that directs our attention to shared sustainability challenges. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is addressed explicitly in Target 4.7 which delineates the following sub-goal: “By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles” (United Nations, 2015, p. 22). These challenges are rooted across all three pillars of sustainability, ranging from climate action (environmental), quality education (social), and industry, innovation, and infrastructure (economic). While not created as a resource solely to be used by educators, we have found that the SDG framework, when used by teachers, can be a helpful tool in content level integration. In fact, we have found that Education for Sustainable Development is the means by which we can go beyond the surface level of global education and advance towards a critically engaged global citizenship for a healthier and more sustainable planet.

Anchoring the Pillars of Sustainability Education in Critical Cosmopolitan Theory to Advance Global Citizenship Education

The purpose of our article is to report on practices to advance global citizenship through Education for Sustainable Development. Many educators find it difficult to find time to teach sustainability topics in the wake of mandated curriculums, standardized testing, and constant pivots in instructional time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anchoring the Pillars of Sustainability Education in  Critical Cosmopolitan Theory to Advance Global Citizenship Education

Positive experiences with nature are key in order for students to not just acquire knowledge of sustainability issues, but to act on this knowledge to create change.

Also read

How Can We Mainstream and Advance Global Citizenship Education in Formal  Education Systems?
Editor’s Note

How Can We Mainstream and Advance Global Citizenship Education in Formal Education Systems?

For any school or university to realize the transformative potential of GCED to the fullest, one has to move beyond looking at the implementation of GCED as yet another subject in the curricular framework but has to adopt an integrated institution-wide contextual approach that involves all stakeholders including the wider community.

Aaryan Salman

‘Education for Homeland Earth’ Framework to Mainstream Global Citizenship Education – The Austrian Experience
Opinion

‘Education for Homeland Earth’ Framework to Mainstream Global Citizenship Education – The Austrian Experience

Education for Homeland Earth is a formula for a transformative, postcolonial, socially critical, ecologically enlightened Global Citizenship Education (GCED). The formula comes from the title of a book written by the French philosopher Edgar Morin and Anne Brigitte Kern in the 1990s.

Prof. Werner Wintersteiner

Pathways to Mainstream and Advance the Concept of Global Citizenship Education in the Arab World
Opinion

Pathways to Mainstream and Advance the Concept of Global Citizenship Education in the Arab World

The importance of this study is manifested by events that have highlighted deteriorating human conditions, particularly in what we are witnessing in third world countries including the Arab world, which is facing a lot of setbacks at several levels.

Dr. Amani G. Jarrar

This article is featured in the Issue
03
titled
Mainstreaming and Advancing Global Citizenship Education
of the .ed Magazine.

Author

References:

  1. Appiah, K. A. (2010). Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a world of strangers. New York: WW Norton & Company.
  2. Byker, E.J. (2013). Critical cosmopolitanism: Engaging students in global citizenship competencies. English in Texas Journal, 43(2), 18-22.
  3. Byker, E. J. (2014). ICT oriented toward nyaya: Community computing in India’s slums. International Journal of Education and Development using ICT, 10(2), 19-28.
  4. Byker, E.J. (2016). Developing global citizenship consciousness: case studies of critical cosmopolitan theory. Journal of Research in Curriculum and Instruction, 20(3), 264-275.
  5. Byker, E. J. (2019). Study abroad as social and emotional learning: Framing international teaching with critical cosmopolitan theory. Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning, 12(2), 183-194. doi:10.1108/JRIT-02-2019-0023. 
  6. Byker, E.J. & Marquadt, S. (2016). Using critical cosmopolitanism to globally situate multicultural education in teacher preparation courses. Journal of Social Studies Education Research, 7(2), 30-50.
  7. Byker, E. J. & Putman, S.M. (2019). Catalyzing cultural and global competencies: Engaging preservice teachers in study abroad to expand the agency of citizenship. Journal of Studies in International Education, 23(1), 84–105.
  8. Byker, E. J. & Xu, T. (2019). Developing global competencies through study abroad: Using critical cosmopolitan theory to compare teacher candidates’ perceptions. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 31(2), 105-120.
  9. Cabezudo, A., Christidis, C., Carvalho da Silva, M., Demetriadou-Saltet, V., Halbartschlager, F., & Mihai, G. (2010). Global education guidelines: A handbook for educators to understand and implement global education (Global Education Guidelines Working Group). North-South Centre of the Council of Europe.
  10. Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Basic Books.
  11. Holshouser, K. O. & Medina, A. L. (2021). For a better world for all: Teaching the sustainable development goals through trade books. The Reading Teacher, 74(4). ​​
  12. Mansilla, V.B., & Jackson, A. (2011). Educating for global competency. New York: Asia Society.
  13. Mensah, J. (2019). Sustainable development: Meaning, history, principles, pillars, and implications for human action: Literature review. Cogent Social Sciences, 5(1), 1653531.
  14. Putman, S.M., & Byker, E.J. (2020). Global citizenship 1-2-3: Educating global citizens who learn, think, and act. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 56(1), 16-21.
  15. United Nations. (2015). Sustainable development goals. New York: United Nations General Assembly.
0%
100%
Enjoy this post? Share it!