Research digest for practitioners: February 2017

Research digest for practitioners: February 2017

The February special issue of the Journal of Studies in International Education focuses in on global citizenship and global learning. The articles and authors critically analyse the concept ‘global citizen’, both the ambiguity of the term and how the term may only serve the Western world.  Global learning and citizenship take shape in various international education learning environments and should be based on foundational principles that nurture deeper learning to occur. The final study explores global citizenship programmes offered in 24 higher education institutions and how the idea of global citizenship is translated into teaching and learning. 

The Global Citizen Conceptualized: Accommodating Ambiguity

By: Kathleen Lilley, Michelle Barker, and Neil Harris

Exploring the conceptualisation of the term ‘global citizen’, this study focuses on the characteristics of the ‘ideal global graduate’. Higher education experts (N=26) from Australia, Europe, the UK, and the USA were interviewed. The authors found it to be more beneficial to problematise how students develop into global citizens than to concentrate on creating another definition of the term. The ‘strategic ambiguity’ of the term allows it to be a more ‘fluid concept’. Overall, the participants agreed, though, that there are consistent attributes and moral values that characterise a global citizen: “openness, tolerance, respect, responsibility for self, others and planet”. In addition, liberal education, rather than professional training, was highlighted as an important aspect of educating global citizens.

Education for Global Citizenship at Universities: Potentialities of Formal and Informal Learning Spaces to Foster Cosmopolitanism

By: Alejandra Boni and Carola Calabuig

Do learning spaces nurture global citizenship? The authors examined three different international education learning spaces to better understand student development in global citizenship. Interviews were conducted with 20 student participants at a Spanish university. Two theoretical approaches were employed to analyse global citizenship and cosmopolitanism: Nessbaum’s capability approach and Delanty’s critical cosmopolitanism. Findings suggest that different learning spaces may have the potential to enhance various dimensions of global citizenship.

Global Citizenship Versus Globally Competent Graduates: A Critical View From the South

By: Nico Jooste and Savo Heleta

This essay critically examines the global citizenship concept from a Global South perspective. The authors argue several points:

  1. The discourse surrounding the global citizenship movement hails from the Western World and is driven by higher education institutions in the Global North. Thus, the concept does not serve the Global South and can be viewed as a form of cultural imperialism.
  2. There is no agreement on what this ‘buzzword’ actually means or measures.
  3. Global citizenship cultivates an inherent tension and debate between globalisation and national sovereignty.
  4. The global citizenship movement does not offer anything novel to higher education, as it is simply repackages the common sense elements of citizenship.

In conclusion, the authors suggest that there is a need for socially, ethically and globally competent graduates rather than global citizens.

Global Learning Through Difference: Considerations for Teaching, Learning, and the Internationalization of Higher Education

By: Hilary E. Kahn and Melanie Agnew

These authors critically analyse global learning. Just because teaching and learning may be labelled as ‘global’ does not necessarily mean it is global. They offer several foundations to consider for global learning:

  1. An emphasis on the processes of learning
  2. The importance of digging deep into the complexity of subject matters
  3. Thinking about the world relationally and through plurality and multiplicity
  4. The significant roles of critical self-reflection and recognition of interconnected and interdependent lives
  5. The ability to navigate between the general and the particular and undo binary thinking
  6. The pursuit of understanding through collaboration and collective knowledge production
  7. An emphasis on fostering responsibility and taking action
  8. Recognising a role for disagreement and disorientation

Institutionalizing Global Citizenship: A Critical Analysis of Higher Education Programs and Curricula

By: Fatih Aktas, Kate Pitts, Jessica C. Richards, and Iveta Silova

This study analysed degree or certificate-granting global citizenship programmes offered at 24 higher education institutions in five countries (Australia, Canada, South Africa, UK, and the USA). The authors highlight three approaches and perspectives of global citizenship and analyse the selected programmes according to these perspectives:

  1. Neoliberal view: international mobility of knowledge skills nurtures the global market economy.
  2. Radical (conflict) view: deconstructs the economic imperative of globalisation and focuses in on the solidarity of oppressed groups around the world.
  3. Transformationalist/critical view: focuses on global power relations that lead to injustice at the local and global level with the aim of transforming structures and attitudes.

Using a critical discourse analysis method, the authors found four common characteristics of the programmes:

  1. International travel: most programmes (18) did not require international travel.
  2. Language proficiency: most programmes (17) did not require language proficiency.
  3. Engagement and service learning: most programmes (17) focused on local and global engagement.
  4. Learning outcomes and curriculum content: Six learning outcomes surfaced from the data: self-reflection, social responsibility, employability, leadership, problem solving, and entrepreneurship. The curriculum was focused on two areas in particular: social justice/human rights and business/economics.

Leasa is Knowledge Development Adviser at the EAIE

If you are an EAIE member, you can contact our office to subscribe to the Journal of Studies in International Education for a special price of only €10 per year.

Leasa Weimer
EAIE, the NetherlandsLeasa is Senior Adviser for Knowledge Initiatives for the EAIE.