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Defining Global Citizenship

Although global citizenship is a significant topic in education it is difficult to find consensus around its meaning. Adding to the challenge is the frequent use of many related, and sometimes interchangeable, terms: global awareness, global education, global identity, and cultural literacy. Below is a collection of thorough, well formulated definitions that capture the complexity and multifaceted nature of global citizenship.

Oxfam defines a Global Citizen as an individual who:

(Oxfam, 2006, p. 3)
  • is aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen
  • respects and values diversity
  • has understanding of how the world works
  • is outraged by social injustice
  • participates in the community at a range of levels, from the local to the global
  • is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place
  • takes responsibility for their actions
Oxfam Development Education Programme. (2006). Education for global citizenship: A guide for schools. Retrieved from http://www.oxfam.org.uk/education/gc/

A Global Education Continuum

(Mundy & Manion, 2008, p. 945)

Global Education Teaches…

Global Education Does Not Teach…

Global Interdependence (linking local to global)
Them/us mentality
Global Social Justice
Global Competitiveness
Solidarity
Charity
Tolerance
Chauvinism
Diversity as a positive value
Uniformity as a positive value
Cosmopolitan or post-national citizenship
(all humans share same rights and responsibilities )
National citizenship (emphasizing the nation as main or sole allegiance,
and national competitiveness)
Active citizenship
• transformative potential of individual and collective action
• role of international organizations in fostering global citizenship
Elite forms of citizenship
• sole focus on formal mechanisms of the national and international
government: leadership, laws, electoral politics, etc.
Environmentalism
Androcentrism
Critical thinking
• including deliberative and decision-making skills
Passive or uncritical thinking
• “transmission approaches to learning”
Attention to sources of disagreement and conflict
• including forms of “structural violence” and structured social exclusion
Issues and cultures in ways that ignore conflictual and contested issues.
Strong sense of moral purpose -
(often including a sense of outrage about injustice)
A value-neutral view of world issues
Mundy, K. & Manion, C. (2008). Global education in Canadian elementary schools: An exploratory study. Canadian Journal of Education, 31(4), 941-974. Retrieved from ERIC database. (EJ830510).

Additional Resources

Oxfam: Why Promote Global Citizenship?

  • Nine reasons for global citizenship to be "at the heart of education."

Oxfam: Key Elements of Global Citizenship

  • An overview of the principles of global citizenship

Oxfam: Curriculum for Global Citizenship Chart

  • Incorporating global citizenship into existing school curriculum for ages 5-19

  • Divided into sections: Skills, Knowledge & Understanding, Values & Attitudes

Educating for Global Citizenship in a Changing World

  • A resource rich with ideas and practices for teaching and learning about global citizenship.

  • Developed by educators for educators