Our world is threatened by grave crises that have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasingly we witness the rise in inequalities, poverty, racism, violence, hatred, bigotry, polarization, intolerance, climate crisis, xenophobia, and conflicts while democracies around the world are on a decline. The imminent catastrophic threat of a Third World War with the upending crisis looming on the borders of Ukraine is just one example of how fragile peace in our world today is. These challenges are not limited to a single instance, country, or continent but have far-reaching effects beyond the boundaries of any one nation, state, or continent.
The solution to the above challenges that our world faces today — and their prevention in the future — can be found in education. I purposely use the word ‘can’ for two reasons — one, it depends on how one defines education, and two, it signifies the hope to unleash the untapped potential of education to transform individuals and societies for human and planetary flourishing.
The United Nations proposed an audacious goal of transforming the world with a common global development framework for countries around the world titled "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development", popularly known as Sustainable Development Goals or the Global Goals. SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education is a standalone goal.
193 countries endorsed Target 4.7: Education for Global Citizenship and Sustainable Development (GCED and ESD) as a part of this global development framework that was adopted by consensus in 2015.
The ideals that Global Citizenship Education fosters are not new and can be found across cultures and civilizations such as in the —
African philosophy of Ubuntu — umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (in the Zulu language) roughly translated as "humanity towards others" or "I am because of who we all are".
Indian philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam — अयं निज: परो वेति गणना लघुचेतसाम् । उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् ॥ (Transliteration of Sanskrit language: "Ayam nijaH paro veti gaNanaa laghuchetasaam udaaracharitaam tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam") translated as ”The thought that one person is related to me and another is not is that of the narrow-minded. For the broadminded, however, the whole world is one family.”
Chinese or Confucian Philosophy of Ren — 仁 (In Chinese) symbolizing “two-man-mindedness” that is “Wishing to be established oneself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged oneself, seeks also to enlarge others. Or the ”Relationship between two humans: humanity, benevolence”
South American philosophy of Sumak Kawsay. In Quechua language, Sumak Kawsay roughly translates into “good living” or the “good life,” however it means much deeper than this. Throughout South America, it is a way of living in harmony within communities, ourselves, and most importantly, nature.
It is in the backdrop of such humanistic philosophies, that the global citizenship competencies and mindsets are rooted in, which adds credence to mainstream and advance Target 4.7 (that is, Global Citizenship Education). Target 4.7 is not just an important compass that gives education its purpose but is also a lynchpin to achieving the 17 sustainable development goals.
Target 4.7: “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, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship, and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”
As per the Agenda 2030 document, the indicator to measure this success is measured based on the “extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development are mainstreamed in (a) national education policies; (b) curricula; (c) teacher education; (d) student assessment”.
For education to create the impact we envision, the lynchpin is transformative education that is grounded in well-rounded teacher education and to go a step further, continuous professional development of in-service educators. Without a strong teacher education and strategic continuous professional development of educators, any policy, curriculum or assessment would fail to realize its full potential. In a worst-case scenario, under-prepared educators could possibly do more damage than good.
Education is one profession that shapes the future, today. Educators prepare young people for a future no one has seen. Therefore — to be able to prepare young people well and have the power to shape a brighter future for our world — educators must stay up to date with the latest information, resources, and opportunities. Take, for example, the United Nations Secretary General’s 2021 Report on “Our Common Agenda” that envisions the next 25 years. Despite the significance of this report, most educators may remain unaware of its existence. This is where a strong Continuous Professional Development program at institutional, local, regional, national, and global levels could be a key enabler of achieving SDG 4 and Target 4.7.
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. The Global Citizenship Foundation was established with this very mandate to realize SDG 4.7 (Education for Global Citizenship and Sustainable Development). The Global Citizenship Foundation developed an Integrated School-Wide Framework to support K-12 educational institutions around the world through the GCED Innovative Schools Initiative.
We are delighted to bring to you the third edition of the .ed Magazine entitled “Mainstreaming and Advancing Global Citizenship Education”. I am indebted to all our readers and our inspiring contributors from some of the world’s leading institutions and organizations for their enriching perspectives: Dr. Douglas Bourn, Dr. Paul Sherman, Dr. Linyuan Guo-Brennan, Dr. Lane Graves Perry III, Dr. Hermann J. Abs, Elisa Álvarez, Dr. Javier Collado Ruano, Dr. Vlad Petre Glăveanu, Dr. Erik Jon Byker, Kaitlyn O Holshouser, Mahita Sadula, Prof. Werner Wintersteiner.
Appreciate the generous efforts of our editorial committee members for their constant support and engagement — Dr. Ashok K Pandey, Dr. Amrita Vohra, Cara Vianca Funa, David Adams, Kuvam Mehta, and others — for their efforts and support in bringing out this fine edition of the .ed Magazine and to you.
The articles in this edition are informative, incisive, and thought-provoking. I hope you enjoy reading this issue of the .ed Magazine, an issue-based quarterly digital magazine for the transformative global educator. Please know, the .ed thrives on your support — it could be your critical feedback, a recommendation, a connection, or even material support — so do share it with us so that we can bring you a better version of the .ed to you in the future.