Further Musings on Global Citizenship

Throughout my week at the Salzburg Global Seminar, a number of interesting ideas have been raised regarding global citizenship education.  Here are a few of the ideas that I left still pondering…

Is technology an interfering force in global citizenship education?  One of the key goals of global citizenship education is to help students grow in their ability to think and act with empathy for the experiences and perspectives of others.  While technology has helped to shrink the world and make communication easier, one of the GCP faculty raised the idea that our current modes of communication might actually hinder student ability to relate to others.  Although people can quickly communicate with others across the world through advances in technology, there is a tendency to use these tools to “report out” on activities rather than engage in conversation.  Indeed, there are numerous examples of students across the educational spectrum failing to recognize the impacts of words and actions in online forums.  In a culture where we prize being connected, it was interesting to consider potential liabilities to advances in technology.  This question and the issues it raises provides additional support to the work that many schools are doing in the area of online citizenship and responsibility.

Why do we teach what we teach?  Two different sessions helped me think more deeply about this important question. The question was initially proposed by one GCP faculty member as a prompt he uses when first working with educational institutions to understand how they see the purpose of their work.  Teachers and schools should reflect on this question, hopefully drawing inspiration and guidance from the institution’s mission.  Is the purpose to prepare students for subsequent academic work?  To lead meaningful lives in service of the greater good?  To be a better person?  While there can be many purposes for individual courses and entire institutional curricula, the point was made that integration of global citizenship outcomes and contexts can easily be woven into existing courses.

Once an institution or instructor has satisfactorily addressed this question, the implementation work begins.  I found a helpful takeaway for integrating global citizenship practices into curricula in the session of a different GCP faculty member.  Because it is challenging for students of all ages to engage with issues that seem unrelated to their lives, she advocated an approach that draws students into a global topic by first starting with a local issue.  By first processing an issue on a local scale, students are drawn into the lesson and can better extrapolate to a global context.  This common sense approach also creates possible opportunities for action, something that does not always seem possible when confronting issues on a global scale.

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