“Helping students become better global citizens and have more awareness surrounding global issues starts with the educator themselves. Before this course, I was unfamiliar with global citizenship concepts and topics. By the end of this course, I feel more confident about translating global citizenship education into classroom practices.” — John, a teacher candidate from Canada, 2021.
“If we do not educate our students about the world's issues, how can we expect them to address them when they are older? As an educator, I always had a desire to tell my students about the world's happenings but did it in subtle ways that would not get me in trouble for ruffling too many feathers. I did not think I was educating for global citizenship at all. This course has strengthened my desire and passion for educating for global citizenship. Most importantly, I now have the language and knowledge to facilitate students' learning on global issues from an informed position” — Julie, a teacher from Canada, 2020.
“I have always been interested in being a global citizen. My cultural stereotype and religious view were the biggest challenges for me to overcome to accept the culture and views of others. The biggest takeaway from this course is to learn that human rights should be at the highest priority, and all perspectives need to be respected. Learning from others' experiences and sharing my own was a great learning experience. I have become more confident in implementing global citizenship education in the classroom,” — Abhik, an international student from Bangladesh, 2020.
I have been offering a course titled, Educating for Global Citizenship to pre-service and in-service educators from different countries for a decade. The above reflective messages are commonly shared by teacher-learners at the end of the course each year. They depict most educators' understanding of Global Citizenship Education (GCED), their desire for relevant content and discourse to articulate the meaning of their passion and dedication and highlight the significance of mainstreaming GCED in all educational contexts, including teacher education.
Both locally and globally, schools, communities, and societies are affected by the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) caused by significant global issues, such as the COVID-19 global health crisis, poverty, and intolerance of diversity. Young people need to be prepared with the knowledge, competencies, and attributes to live responsibly in a world affected by the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), a new phase of globalization, driven by shifts in technology, geopolitics, social and environmental needs (World Economic Forum, 2019). They also need to collaborate with people from different backgrounds for innovation effectively and properly exercise their rights and responsibilities for collective wellbeing in communities and societies (UNESCO, 2021). Global citizenship education helps them develop the cognitive, socioemotional, and behavioral competencies in collaborating with people with diverse perspectives and experiences, harnessing new opportunities, and promoting peace and sustainability for the collective wellbeing of all peoples and societies.
As a future-oriented educational lens and interdisciplinary framework, GCED creates opportunities and space for students to develop knowledge and awareness of issues significant to local and global contexts (Guo, 2014). This includes sustainability, interconnection, digital citizenship, respect and appreciation of diversity, equity and inclusion, conflict resolution, social justice, and climate change. These issues affect all individuals' lives, wellbeing, and identities, however, people from different communities and societies have different perspectives and experiences. Through GCED, educators facilitate the process of understanding and examining these issues, which results in learners' enhanced appreciation of multiple perspectives and diversity (Guo-Brennan, 2021). The competencies and values fostered in the process of GCED are critical for the economic productivity and prosperity of individuals and contribute to inclusion, peace, equity, and sustainability in communities and societies.
Education improves lives and futures. Teaching is an influential profession because teachers can translate the power of education into knowledge, competencies, and commitment that sustain health and wellbeing for all, improve the economy and societal cohesion, and enhance justice and equality in institutions and societies. Most teachers care about their students and strive to inspire learners — leaders of tomorrow— to live up to their full potential, pursue a meaningful and purposeful life, and make positive changes in communities, workplaces, and the world as citizens and leaders. They are motivated to educate for global citizenship but do not feel prepared or confident to conduct GCED. This is evident in my observation through my decade-long GCED-focused teacher education career and confirmed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s recent global survey on teachers' preparedness for GCED (UNESCO, 2021). Reflecting on my scholarly work and teaching practices in preparing educators to educate for global citizenship over the past decade, I suggest the following high-impact practices in mainstreaming GCED into teacher education programs in higher education:
Establishing GCED as an Institutional Goal
GCED deals with many concepts and issues that affect the quality, equity, and efficiency in higher education institutions (HEIs). The fundamental concepts in GCED, such as digital citizenship, diversity, equity and inclusion, global interconnection, and sustainable development, are also significant issues that affect higher education policy and the environment. When GCED is clearly defined as an institutional goal in institutional vision, mission, and policy, all learners, including educators, have the opportunities to develop global citizenship and leadership. A clear goal also inspires faculty and staff to play leadership roles in GCED.
Creating an Open and Inclusive Environment
Educators themselves need to navigate and appreciate the complexities of their multifaceted identities characterized by language, race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic class, nationality, and gender to educate for global citizenship. Issues — associated with identities such as racism and discrimination, are experienced and viewed differently by students from diverse backgrounds. The purpose of GCED is not to validate one perspective but condemn another. Instead, it should create opportunities for all learners to engage in critical conversations and perspective exchanges. This goal can only be achieved in an open and inclusive environment that fosters positive pedagogic relationships, supports learning autonomy, and encourages collaborative learning. Practicing democratic values in teaching, encouraging open-mindedness and collaboration, providing flexibility in learning performance and assessment, and facilitating critical conversations on different perspectives are helpful strategies — in creating an open and inclusive environment — for educators.
Developing Program and Curriculum with Global Dimension
Global citizenship education requires educators to learn about the social, cultural, and political aspects of global issues, such as — global interconnection, poverty, sustainable development, critical literacy, equity, diversity and inclusion, human rights, social justice, conflict resolution, and digital citizenship. These concepts are complex, interdisciplinary, and new to many educators. Programs and courses with global dimensions and perspectives are essential for educators to expand their global awareness and develop a knowledge base of issues significant to local and international contexts.
Adopting Context-relevant and Age-appropriate Activities and Resources
GCED needs to be localized and contextualized to make it relevant, meaningful, and impactful. Understanding and analyzing the political, sociocultural, economic, environmental, and digital dimensions of complex issues requires resources that respond to the matters prioritized in different educational contexts. GCED resources and activities are readily available. However, they are primarily harbored in organizations outside of formal education systems. One of the crucial goals of preparing teachers for GCED is to direct them to existing resources, help them make the connection between GCED objectives and concepts with curriculum outcomes, and provide space and guidance on adopting instructional activities and resources relevant to their contexts. These strategies encourage educators to create contextualized and innovative GCED resources and approaches and expand discourses on global citizenship education.
Fostering Critical Reflexivity through Critical GCED
Critical reflexivity is the capacity to see one's perspective and assumptions and understand how one's perspective, beliefs, and identity are socially constructed. It is a core competency to appreciate diverse perspectives in decision-making and deal with issues of inequality and injustice in educational settings and communities. When fostering GCED from a critical perspective, educators have opportunities to critique the relationship of power and knowledge distribution that causes inequity and exclusion in education and to examine the policy, curriculum, and pedagogy shaped by contexts, beliefs, values, power, and resources. They develop the professional capacities to effectively interact with students, parents, and stakeholders from sociocultural traditions, worldviews, and perspectives different from their own.
Over a decade ago, I started my journey to prepare educators for global citizenship education at K-20 education levels, when the concept and discourse of GCED were utterly absent from mainstream education policies, curriculum, assessment, and classroom practices. Educators' intellectual and emotional engagement in learning to ‘educate for global citizenship’ has highlighted such work's meaning, significance, and authenticity. Globally GCED is gaining significant attention in educational policies, research, and publications, and curriculum in some countries (Andreotti, 2006, 2011; Andreotti & Pashby, 2013; CMEC, 2022; Tarozzi & Inguaggiato, 2018; UNESCO, 2021).
The goals and objectives of GCED cannot be achieved unless teachers are empowered to educate for global citizenship in classrooms. I hope the reflective practices shared in this article will invite educators and policymakers to work together to create opportunities for all learners acquire the knowledge, skills, and attributes as globally competent citizens and leaders in the 21st century.