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Global Education: Fostering World Citizenship in the Classroom

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Global Education: Fostering World Citizenship in the Classroom

Global Education: Fostering World Citizenship in the Classroom

Global education and fostering world citizenship means educating students through authentic and diverse activities and discussions about global issues and responsibilities. Teaching students about the world by exploring history, geography, and cultural anthropology is one thing. Helping students to understand how these things affect each of us takes their classroom learning to a deeper level. Furthermore, William Wolansky suggests there be a “structure for multidisciplinary delivery of learning experiences which yield a global perspective and a sense of global responsibility” integrated into the curriculum. As teachers, we should strive to inspire social responsibility and world citizenship by integrating global issues, ideas, and dynamics into everyday learning.

“Global education is the process by which people acquire the ability to conceptualize and understand the complexities of the international systems. Individuals form a realistic global perspective as they develop an awareness of the world cultures, our interdependence, interconnectedness and recognize the diversity and commonalities of human values and beliefs.”

-William D. Wolansky

As human beings, we are faced with social challenges and responsibilities. And this is due to the structure of our societies and the dynamics that are in play between them, as well as challenges with nature. In addition to climate change and gender disparity, people around the world are suffering from poverty, starvation, disease, and destruction from natural and human-caused events. We are battling discrimination, violence, inequality, and fear of difference. These issues affect people’s lives across the globe and influence how we interact with each other, and the world around us. 

Why is it important to teach global education and foster world citizenship in the classroom?

UNESCO names five barriers to global citizenship:
-Legacy of the current education system
-Outmoded curricula and learning materials
-Lack of teacher capacity
-Inadequate focus on values
-Lack of leadership on global citizenship

“Open discussion of tolerance and human rights can be politically sensitive, but it is critical if we want to overcome divisions and expand the prospects for peace and prosperity.”  


Consequently, by addressing these global struggles and connecting them to curricular competencies and content we can better equip students to think of their lives and experiences in a more universal context. This will encourage them to use their critical thinking and problem solving to reinforce their social responsibility and global awareness.

Students who are able to understand their interconnectedness to humanity and the Earth will be more motivated and be equipped with the skills needed to find solutions to global issues. They will be able to think and act in ways that will create a better future for humankind and for the planet that we call home.

Social Responsibility:

 “Students who demonstrate social responsibility are active, caring, and responsible members of society. They collaborate effectively with others, demonstrate a strong sense of community-mindedness, and take actions to support diversity and the environment. They show respect for everyone’s rights, and demonstrate empathy and a sense of ethical care as they develop relationships and consider differing perspectives.” BC’s New Curriculum

Smash the Patriarchy - Women's March Sign

Global Education and World Citizens at work:

We are already seeing the effects a global education can have on a child. Kids around the world are taking a stand and creating movements to address global issues and societal struggles everywhere. Although student activism isn’t a new thing, the age of the students who are fighting to make change is getting younger and younger. Check out these young world citizens and social activists:

Brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger were in middle school when they were inspired to start the ME to WE movement. Their vision is “to empower people to transform local and global communities by shifting from “me” thinking to “we” acting.”

Craig and Marc Kielburger, ME to WE movement.
Craig and Marc Kielburger, ME to WE movement.

The International Indigenous Youth Council was started in 2016 during the Standing Rock Indigenous Uprising in the US.

Next, we have Malala Yousafzai is an incredibly courageous education activist from Pakistan.

Malala Yousafzai, Education Activist

And Sophie Cruz, who started fighting for immigrant’s rights at age 5. She evaded security and gave a letter to Pope Francis. She was trying to save her parents from deportation.

Sophie Cruz - Immigration Activist

Personal experiences with global education:

Looking back at my own educational experience, global education has been very scarce. When I was in high school (the early 2000s) we learned how to colour maps. We located countries and capital cities, and named important historical figures. Back in elementary school we would carry a big textbook back and forth from school. We would use it, along with a couple of library books (and my step dad’s Encyclopedia Britannica set — which I thought was the COOLEST thing ever at 7 years old) and create poster board projects about different countries and their (traditional) cultures. These poster boards and tri-folds would sometimes be accompanied by a plate of food from that country. I remember bringing mango slices to share with my classmates when I studied Fiji with my pal Tiffany (or was it Ashley…they are twins!)

Me in grade 9 Social Studies, 2003.
Me in grade 9 Social Studies class.

I don’t recall ever talking about what it was like for the people who lived in these countries. About their politics, or about why they practiced a specific religion. In fact, coming from a non-religious household I didn’t even know much about religion at all. I will admit that I was completely clueless about religious warfare, political struggles, or any real global issues. However, I knew that I should recycle because there was a hole in the ozone layer. And I knew that I should eat all my vegetables because there were starving kids in Africa.

How differently I could have seen and felt about the world had I been encouraged to be a world citizen? What would my life be like if I had a more global education?

Global Education and Fostering World Citizenship in MY Classroom:

Now that it is my turn to be the teacher, I see no reason not to offer a global education to my students. To give them opportunities to explore their connectedness to the world. I want to lead them to become responsible world citizens through global education. That being said, here are some great resources that I have found to help globalize my unit and lesson plans:








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