Global citizenship, like international education, is a popular idea in education (Sutherland, Price, & Harris, 2014, p. 35). As schools try to address the desires of various stakeholders, including business, governments, and NGOs for global citizenship and international education, questions arise as to how best to approach it (Marshall, 2011, pg. 2). Given the different agendas of the actors crying out for global education, from pragmatic and economic concerns to idealist desires for international understanding, it is not an easy question to answer.
To further complicate matters, Cambridge (2014) makes the important observation that whether or not a school provides a truly international education is not solely determined by its status as an international or non-international school (pg. 17). Both accredited international schools and schools teaching national curricula may or may not provide international educations to equal degrees. In fact, even in schools with visions stating a dedication to global citizenship education, it is rarely addressed in the curriculum as written (Sutherland, Price, & Harris, 2014, p. 42).
Berenstein, as cited by Cambridge (2014) outlines how a curriculum might be strongly or weakly framed and classified. A strongly classified curriculum is likely presented as a discrete subject. This approach allows for more teacher autonomy with regards to instruction and assessment (pg. 21). While this offers the potential for individual teachers with a strong global mindset to produce great results in their classroom, conversely, less motivated individuals would have difficulty meeting the goals of the curriculum (Sutherland, Price, & Harris, 2014, pg. 37, 42). This type of learning can be described as 'education about global citizenship' (Cambridge, 2014, pg. 27).
A more integrated approach to global citizenship in which learning crosses subject boundaries and saturates the culture of the school seems to be a more common approach (Sutherland, Price, & Harris, 2014, pg. 43). Many schools, despite working towards visions that support global citizenship, don't mention it in their 'curriculum as written' (pg. 42). Rather, global citizenship education takes place more as 'interstitial learning' present in the school's 'hidden curriculum', the attitudes and disciplines that it supports (Cambridge, 2014, pg. 27). Cocurricular activities that allow students to seek out others experiences and experience global concerns are one approach to providing this (Sutherland, Price, & Harris, 2014, pg. 48) A challenge of this approach is that teachers in such a school must share a similar vision of global citizenship education and approach pedagogy and evaluation in the same way (Cambridge, 2014, pg. 22, 27). This approach can be thought of as 'education for global citizenship', in which students develop values and competencies that support acting as global citizens (pg. 27).
The content of global citizenship education is up for debate as well. Cambridge (2014) outlines two broad categories of values that global citizenship education might support: expressive values and instrumental values. The former include modes of conduct, character traits, and manners that we share when we interact as global citizens. The latter includes skills and knowledge that we can use when interacting (p. 17). Marshall (2011) outlines a number of different agendas that global citizenship education might support, which would likely affect the expressive and instrumental values given priority in different circumstances: capitalists, reformers, environmentalists, networkers, and cosmopolitans (pg. 3).
In my view, one of the most promising approaches to global citizenship programming lies in supporting the development of cosmopolitan citizenship. Generally, it presumes that a connected world community will produce multiple identities in individuals, and takes certain universal human rights to be shared values among all people (Cambridge, 2014, pg. 18). Marshall (2011) provides a list of cosmopolitan capitals that such an approach might support the development of, such as global knowledge of current conditions and issues, different social or economic orientations to global engagement, and global competencies required to interact with the world (pp. 6-7). He cites Andreotti's four types of 'post-colonial' learning for global citizenship (learning to unlearn, listen, learn, and reach out) as competencies that global citizenship education might develop, as well as Rizvi's epistemic virtues of historicity, criticality, reflexivity, and relationality (p. 13).
There is a danger of western bias in creating global citizenship curricula that often locates itself in discourses of modernity and progress (Cambridge, 2014, pg. 20). Eurocentric views of international education often assume that the west is at the center and in possession of Universal knowledge, while other knowleges are 'traditional' (Marshall, 2011, pg. 11). Perhaps approaching global citizenship education as a set of competencies like the ones outlined by Andreotti and Rizvi can help to mitigate this. As Marshall states, the "imagined global futures of adults might not necessarily be appropriate for the next generation" (p. 4). Focusing on metacognitive and inter/intrapersonal skills that allow students to be adaptable learners might be the best global citizenship education, or education in general, that we can hope to provide. Tomorrow's global citizens should be prepared to engage in their own debates about what matters in the world while being fully and critically aware of all of the actors and agendas at work.
Cambridge, J. (2014). Global citizenship education as pedagogic discourse. In Dobson, D. P., & Silova, I. (eds.) Globalizing minds: Rhetoric and realities in international schools. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing Inc. 15-34.
Marshall, H. (2011). Instrumentalism, ideals and imaginaries: Theorising the contested space of global citizenship education in schools. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 9 (3-4), 411- 426. Retrieved from http://opus.bath.ac.uk/27859/1/Marshall_Globalisation_Societies_Education_2011_9_3_4_411.pdf
Sutherland, I. E., Price, D., and Harris, D. (2014). Where is global citizenship? How international schools are fulfilling their mission. In Dobson, D. P., & Silova, I. (eds.) Globalizing minds: Rhetoric and realities in international schools. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing Inc. 35-50.
Matthew Boomhower is a mid-career educator with 15 years of classroom teaching and educational leadership experience. He is Head of Innovation & Learning at an international school in Malaysia and is a proud husband and father.