Global Education: Helping Students Become Global Citizens

Throughout time, human beings have always banded together to form communities. May it be because of commonalities such as geographical, social, economic, political or religious identities. But in today’s day and age, thanks to technology and advances in communication and transportation, human beings are more linked on a global scale than ever before.

Because of this, there is a sense of community belonging that expands beyond national borders. Due to this, human beings develop empathy, a sense of responsibility and connectedness, toward not only their immediate communities, but also the worldwide society that they are now a part of. With this change, it becomes necessary to educate younger generations with a new approach. Education today, must assist students in developing the essential skills and personality traits that allows them to effectively interact with not just their communities, but the world at large. Hence turning them into productive “global citizens”.


What is a Global Citizen?

Global citizenship is described as the responsibilities that come with being a member of a global community. Actions that one takes must be in support of this community’s purpose and values. These rights, responsibilities and values are consistent with the concept of “humanity”.

The United World Schools Organization defines global citizens as students and educators who are aware of the wider world and have a sense of their role as a world citizen. Those who respect and value diversity and want to tackle social injustice. Those who believe that all children and young people have a right to an education. These ‘citizens’ take action to make the world more equitable, and live and promote a sustainable way of life.


Educating Students in a Global Mindset

Educators should consider global citizenship a mindset, not an extra part for the curriculum to be visited once or twice throughout the school year. Globally oriented values can be taught and encouraged alongside normal curriculum by integrating diversity, sustainability and human rights topics in lessons. Teachers can also assign students to create models, presentations or experiments that cater to the sustainable energy, or any such relevant topics.

Since there is no prescribed way to help your students achieve global citizenship, educators should know what is relatable to their students and be creative when planning discussions and activities. For example, psychology students in lower income and/or urban areas might focus on localized community projects. Whereas, biology students living on coastlines might gravitate towards worldwide ocean cleanup campaigns. Teachers can also give students the opportunity to share topics that they are drawn to. These important tips may help educators teach global views and understanding:

- Using technology to connect students with the rest of the world

One of the best ways for your students understand what’s going on in the world, as well as collaborate with students and organizations abroad, is to become digitally connected. The Internet offers a wide range of news sources and commentaries, many of which are suitable for students of all ages. Teachers can use apps, such as Skype, Google Hangouts, or social media to have conversations with other classes or global participants.

- Using human rights issues as a platform for discussion

Students of all ages, socio-economic backgrounds or geographic locations can find human rights relatable on some scale. This is a great starting point to spark discussion and awareness.

In 2015, the UN established “Global Goals for Sustainable Development”. If the Goals are met, extreme poverty, inequality and climate change could be curbed by 2030. Teachers can also use these Goals as a basis for students to start becoming global citizens and involved in human rights projects.

- Using a learn-think-act process to encourage global citizenship

Oxfam International, a confederation of 20 independent charitable organizations focusing on the alleviation of global poverty, coined a learn-think-act philosophy. This philosophy is a great way for teachers to introduce global citizenship to their students:

Learn: “Exploring the issue, considering it from different viewpoints and trying to understand the causes and consequences.”

Think: “Considering critically what can be done about the issue, and relating this to values and worldview and trying to understand the nature of power and action.”

Act: “Thinking about and taking action on the issue as an active global citizen, both individually and collectively.”

Practices such as these, and an active participation by not just students but teachers as well, will ultimately leading to a forming young children into aware, productive and sensitized global citizens.

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