Empowering Global Citizenship – Building Bridges Across Cultures

Today’s students live in an increasingly connected global context, so in order to truly grasp its entirety they must be empowered with new learning lenses to provide fresh perspectives.

Global Citizenship Education (GCED) provides civic learning with a global outlook, encouraging learners to assume active roles for more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, and sustainable societies both locally and globally.

1. Educate the Mind

Conventional approaches to intercultural understanding view differences as barriers that need to be surmounted; this can lead one to believe that individuals’ mindsets and actions can be understood based on their cultural background.

Instead, we believe it is more effective to recognize similarities among people and cultures as the basis for understanding and collaboration – this is where building bridges comes into play.

UNESCO’s Education for Global Citizenship (EGC) program strives to equip students with the essential tools for building cooperative communities across cultures and borders while instilling them with values that foster peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, and sustainable societies.

Studies have demonstrated that global citizenship identification is positively associated with prosocial outcomes. Political and economic global citizen types were found to have stronger correlations than spiritual and cultural global citizen types with these prosocial outcomes; yet the correlation was still small in relation to political global citizen types – possibly due to various conceptualizations of one-world state/government such as from cosmopolitan democracy to sovereign world state.

2. Educate the Heart

Education of the heart can be an intricate and delicate task, yet one that is imperative if one seeks to create a better world. A global citizen bears responsibility for upholding human welfare regardless of origin or location – striving for peace, social justice and diversity while developing personal connections amongst humanity as a whole.

To address this question, a six-item global citizenship identification scale was devised based on Reysen and Katzarska-Miller’s (2013) previous work. Exploratory principal components analysis followed by factor analyses examined convergent, divergent, and predictive validity for each of Oxley and Morris (2013) identified eight distinct global citizen types.

Endorsement of each of these global citizen types was found to correlate with prosocial values; however, endorsement of critical global citizen types also often corresponded with anti-democratic and conservative political ideals. Furthermore, environmental and spiritual global citizen types both share beliefs in nature while striving for social justice.

3. Educate the Body

Global citizenship doesn’t just involve travel or volunteering abroad. You can develop cultural sensitivity without leaving home by reading blogs and articles written by individuals living abroad; this can increase empathy and awareness of different cultures while sparking greater desire to work together towards our shared goals on planet earth.

Participating in global conversations through social media, gathering information about different countries or regions through research or collecting historical documents, or making donations to organizations promoting human rights and sustainability are all great ways to develop the moral compasses of students in an ever-evolving globalized environment. Leaders with more diverse life experiences, greater empathy, and wider perspectives are desperately needed in order to help combat climate change, health concerns or any other globalized issue that emerges.

4. Educate the Soul

Teachers must educate not only minds and hearts but souls as well. This requires teaching students how to be aware of the world around them, understand their place within it and show kindness toward humanity beyond their immediate surroundings.

One effective educational approach for this goal is global citizenship education (GCED), defined by UNESCO as an ethical position which fosters respect and belonging among its learners, creating more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive, and sustainable societies.

Oxfam has developed guides that provide teachers and schools with an overview of GCED in an informal atmosphere through conviviality framework. These include brief histories of global citizenship and UNESCO; case studies outlining best practices; activities; resources which encourage students to discover the diversity within our world and how different cultures connect;

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