First things first, what is global citizenship?
Global citizenship. It’s a term used by many, but there is contention as to it’s true meaning. Many of us have heard the term global citizenship and are aware that it is something that is valued highly by educational institutions and other organisations. Others perceive the term relatively literally, and assume that global citizens consider themselves to be a citizen of the world in its entirety, rather than solely a citizen of their own nation.
But what does this term actually mean? Definitions of global citizenship vary, but generally encompass a sense of viewing oneself as a compassionate citizen of the world, rather than that of a singular nation or cultural group.
“A global citizen is someone who is aware of and understands the wider world – and their place in it. They take an active role in their community, and work with others to make our planet more equal, fair and sustainable.”
Beyond defining the term, research into the premise has resulted in a general consensus that there are three dimensions which encompass global citizenship. These dimensions are:
“Social responsibility (a concern for humanity and the environment), global awareness (alertness and responsiveness to issues that are global in nature), and civic engagement (active, informed participation in local, national, and global affairs).” [Krystina A. Stoner and Michael A. Tarrant; Lane Perry; Lee Stoner; Stephen Wearing; Kevin Lyons  Global Citizenship as a Learning Outcome of Educational Travel ]
Effectively, global citizenship is an acknowledgement that the world is an interconnected system; actions do not occur in silos, instead, they form part of a complex interplay of actions that can have long reaching effects across the globe.
Why is global citizenship important?
Our world is more interconnected than at any other point in human history. It is essential that we give our young people the skills to be able to successfully and meaningfully engage with people, issues and concepts from a range of culturally, socially and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Positive engagement with others relies heavily on the ability of individuals to be able to consider things from the perspective of another and be considerate of different cultural values and attitudes. Through an awareness of the interconnectedness of our global society, students can develop a sense of how their actions can impact on sustainability and the environment, social justice and peace, as well as political and economic factors. Through developing this sense of awareness, students can draw links between their actions and specific outcomes, as well as make predictions about the possible impact of their decision making and that of others.
What is the role of schools in cultivating global citizenship?
Global citizenship is a trait highly valued by universities, businesses and other organisations. Employers are looking for individuals with the capacity to be able to interact with people from a wide range of backgrounds, as well as having the capacity to bring key learnings from intercultural experiences into the workplace.
Schools nationwide are working to develop a sense of global citizenship in their students. In Victoria, it’s even part of the school improvement model, with a focus on schools utilising intercultural experiences in order to expand student’s perceptions of their place in our globalised world.
Research into the links between education and global citizenship has suggested that education is a powerful influence in creating a sense of global citizenship and global mindedness. With creative curriculum design and a focus on exposure to a variety of teaching and learning materials and experiences, teachers are well placed to work towards cultivating a sense of global citizenship in their students.
How can I cultivate a sense of global citizenship in my students?
1. Embed concepts into the curriculum
Curriculum is a great starting point for introducing students to a range of global concepts. Concepts such as social responsibility and civic engagement lend themselves well to a number of different subject areas. For example, social responsibility could be linked to consumer behaviour in economics, helping behaviour in Psychology, continuity and change in historical skills and maintaining cohesive societies in civics.
By introducing students to these concepts via curriculum design, teachers can provide richer learning experiences and expand the global outlook of their students. Teachers can create lessons that integrate an intercultural focus by bringing in the stories, texts and experiences of those from different cultures and linking them with dimensions of global citizenship.
2. Experiential activities
Experiential activities in education are of unquestionable value, whether it be an international experience or something closer to home. Taking students out into the wider world on a study tour gives students the opportunity to view the lives of others first hand. It provides the opportunity to garner a unique insight into the world that is free from bias from social networks, media or other influences.
By taking students beyond their borders, we can provide the opportunity to view the impact of individual decision making. For example, students can learn about how consumer behaviour and continual engagement in fast fashion culture enables unfair working conditions and wages for workers in Indonesia, or, how engagement in a crowdfunding campaign results in a collaborative art space in outback Australia.
Student tours also give students the opportunity to contextualise their curriculum across a number of key learning areas. For example, a visit to the Great Barrier Reef can provide multiple insights, including an examination of the biodiversity on the reef, the nature of the tourism economy and the science behind the threats to the long-term sustainability of the reef. From this experience, students not only contextualise their curriculum but can also make vital links between personal and consumer decision making, government policies, global markets and social responsibility.
Experiential activities also provide the scope for making life-changing personal connections with others. By engaging in conversation and storytelling with individuals from different cultures, students can gain further insight into issues, events and cultural practices and integrate these insights into their overall worldview.
The cumulative effect of these experiences allows students to foster a sense of interconnectedness with the world around them and better identify as global citizens.
3. Provide the opportunity for critical reflection
When combined with the opportunity for critical reflection, a student tour can be truly transformative for the perceptions of a young person. By coupling their real-life experiences with reflection, critical discussion and further investigation, students become engaged in a more holistic, meaningful experience which allows them to begin to cultivate an identity as that of a global citizen.
Follow up activities after a student tour, experiential activity or intercultural experience in your classroom can take many forms. Students can complete analysis of social and political policies, participate in Socratic seminars based around an issue or text, join group discussions and create self-structured inquiry investigations. These types of activities allow students to take further ownership of their learning and build on the insights gained from their experiences.
Educational Journeys have years of experience in designing custom made student tour packages. Get in touch today to discuss how you can create the opportunity for your students to engage in a life-changing travel experience!