What is Global Education?
by Sara Coumantarakis
Global education is teaching and learning with a global perspective;
• Recognizing the interdependencies and interconnections of issues, regions, peoples, places, systems and times;
• Infusing global issues, such as sustainable development, environmental care, peace and human rights, into traditional subject areas;
• Working toward active, responsible global citizenship toward building a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.
Noted global educator Graham Pike states that "Global education is a tapestry in the making: it weaves together the separate threads, such as economy, environment, society and technology, by which we currently make sense of the world. It is needed to help us fully realize our interdependence with all life forms, to understand that, ultimately, survival in isolation is neither desirable nor possible. What it might conceivably contribute to the twenty-first century remains unknown, but the dangers of education without a global perspective are starkly evident in the history of the twentieth." (Pike, 2000)
Global education is active and experiential in nature, engaging the learner where he or she is, helping the student to develop tools which will aid her or him in understanding where she/he is and why. These are the tools of critical thinking - the ability to question and analyze the implications of a particular reality. This is the development and practice of the skills of conflict resolution, reflective listening and dialogue and attitudes and values such as justice, compassion and peace which are characteristic of a global citizen (Choldin, 1993). Global and peace educators such as Betty Reardon, Toh Swee Hin and Virginia Cawagas (1987, 2000) have fleshed out a praxis which includes holism, dialogue and critical empowerment and added a dimension of hope and spirituality to teaching and learning within global and peace education.
Toh and Cawagas (1987) employ the term "education for peace" to describe an education which "contributes to a better awareness of the root causes of conflicts, violence and peacelessness at the global, national, regional, community and interpersonal levels" and "cultivates values and attitudes which will encourage individual and social action for building more peaceful communities, societies and ultimately a more peaceful world."
As with Selby, this framework includes the issues and spacial dimension ("these issues extend across global, national, regional, community and personal levels, and involve political, economic, social and cultural dimensions"). Toh and Cawagas (1987) emphasize the need to balance understanding and practice as well as reflection and action. An added dimension is the emphasis on encouraging the use of critical analysis to examine the root causes of conflict and peacelessness and the structural violence which arises from the systems of past and present. This critical understanding accompanied by action taking is the means through which transformation both personally and on a societal level is accomplished.
David Hicks addresses global issues at three levels: state of the planet, state of society and the state of education and describes education for peace as "an attempt to respond to problems of conflict and violence on scales ranging from the global and national to the local and personal. It is about exploring ways of creating more just and sustainable futures" (Hicks 1988). His aim is to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to:
• explore concepts of peace both as a state of being and as an active process;
• inquire into obstacles of peace and the causes of peacelessness, both in individuals, institutions and societies;
• resolve conflicts in ways that will lead toward a less violent and just world; and
• explore a range of different alternative futures, in particular ways of building a more just and sustainable world.
Hicks sees the teacher as the facilitator who helps the student begin to build a clear image of peace and sees the place of peace education as curriculum wide, with process consistent with content. Hick's skills include critical thinking, co-operation, empathy, assertiveness and conflict resolution. Knowledge objectives encompass conflict, peace, war, nuclear issues, justice, power, gender, race, ecology and futures. Attitudes include self-respect, respect for others, ecological concern, open-mindedness, vision and commitment to justice.
Personal transformation is the beginning point rather than the end result for Reardon (1988). She speaks of a peace paradigm to "fulfill the human potential for authentic excellence" with positive human potential reflecting positive peace and learning to change to transform ourselves. She, like Hicks, Selby, Toh and Cawagas, agree that a holistic, integrated approach is needed and fears that the traditional approach in education of carefully delineating goals and objectives which can be evaluated with quantitative measurement divides knowledge into isolated compartments which get in the way of true understanding of the world today. The teacher's role, like the students', is that of a learner and the practice, as with Toh and Cawagas, is compassionate, just and peaceful.
With peace being defined as "a condition in which justice can be pursued without violence, individually and socially", Reardon (1988) integrates justice building over time and through issues "intentionally, day by day, habit by habit, norm by norm, structure by structure". Like Selby, Reardon emphasizes interconnections and interrelationships between planetary stewardship, global citizenship and humane relationship.
Reardon's language is more spiritual in nature, with reference to "becoming" as the significant part of being and the inclusion of reflection, particularly the value of silence, reverence and reconciliation as fundamental capacities of peace education (the others being responsibility, risk, recovery and reconstruction). These capacities are developed through a learning cycle based upon active learning strategies such as capturing vision, formulating images, articulating preferences, constructing models, assessing possibilities, planning policies, taking action, reflecting on and evaluating change and confronting reality.
Like Hicks, Reardon (1988) outlines a "blueprint for preferred futures" through envisioning, imagining and modeling. Throughout her model, there is a strong emphasis on the imaginative process and the element of risk in bringing to life that which can be imagined; "a significant element of human potential is the ability to direct the change in self and in society toward preferred values and to relate responsibility to changes in the natural order".
Global Education @ Learning - Network Copyright © 2002 [Learning Network]. All rights reserved. Revised: 04/17/03. Produced by Learning Network with the Support of the Government of Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
Global Education Sites
• U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
• The GLOBE Program (NOAA) - a worldwide hands-on, primary and secondary school-based education and science program.
• National Park Service, Learning Resources
• Wild Things - an interactive distance learning adventure including satellite broadcasts that help students and teachers explore and learn about National Wildlife Refuges and the fascinating critters that inhabit them.
• California Environmental Education (CERES)
• What is your state doing in Environmental Education.
• The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) - Earth Portal is a comprehensive, free and dynamic resource for timely, objective, science-based information about the environment built by a global community of environmental experts: educators, physical, life and social scientists, scholars and professional who have joined together to communicate to the world.
• Encyclopedia of Earth
• Earth News - including breaking news with links from key word to encyclopedia articles for the science behind the news.
• Alberta Council for Global Cooperation
Great Wetlands of the World
Wetlands, perhaps nature's least appreciated landscapes, are vital to the health of ecosystems, maintenance of water quality, and moderation of climate change. Click the numbered bullets to explore the worlds largest wetland areas and understand the BENEFITS of protecting the world's waterlogged lands.