Reflections on Teaching University Global Citizenship Education: Critical Lessons from Los Angeles

Reflections on Teaching University Global Citizenship Education: Critical Lessons from Los Angeles

Humanity and our planet face a growing number of interconnected challenges and opportunities exacerbated by globalization(s), which demand new paradigms of teaching and learning. Despite criticism, global citizenship education (GCE) has been offered as an attempt to assist policy makers and practitioners to address complex global challenges through education. However, there is an absence of empirical research on teaching university GCE particularly within the United States and especially through models that emphasize critical theory and critical pedagogy. The purpose of this article is to highlight some findings from a qualitative self-study (Tidwell et al, 2009) on teaching GCE to undergraduates in Los Angeles.

GCE Course Context

With a mandate of the to teach comparative education courses that foster the values, abilities and skills of global citizenship, UNESCO-UCLA Chair in Global Learning and Global Citizenship Education received approval from the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies to teach three new GCE under- Global Commons Review 2 s Spring 2018 s Cover s Contents s About Us 62 graduate courses (Globalization and Learning; Global Citizenship Education; and GCE: Curriculum and Instruction) beginning in the 2016-2017 Academic Year (AY). I taught the course that focuses on GCE: Curriculum and Instruction, which was a four-hour course that met once a week for the ten-week quarter. The course fulfilled upper division requirements for students in the Education minor program. There were twenty-one junior and senior undergraduate students enrolled in addition to a visiting professor from China who audited the course. Although there were only three male students, the class was quite diverse, representing various racial/ethnic backgrounds, various religious beliefs, varied immigration status, sexual and political orientations, as well as wide array of majors including African American Studies, Biology, Business Economics, Chicana/o Studies, Communications, English, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology and Spanish and Portuguese. About half of the students were interested in pursuing careers in teaching. The remaining half were either uncertain about their career goals, pursuing graduate school or interested in careers in other fields. When asked why the students enrolled in this course, the common response was, “The title sounds interesting but I have no idea what global citizenship education means”.

Organization and Curricula

The format of each class was divided into three sections
The first section was devoted to lectures and student-centered discussions/activities facilitated by the instructor on global chal- Global Commons Review 2 s Spring 2018 s Cover s Contents s About Us 63 lenges providing the context of globalization(s). The second was devoted to discussions/activities facilitated by the instructor related to themes of GCE viewed as an intervention to specific problems e.g. peace education, human rights education, social justice education, ecopedagogy etc. The last section consisted of discussions facilitated by students pertaining to ways students could develop lessons to address specific global problems. For example, the two main assignments underscores students’ attempt at using education as a means of addressing global challenges.

Global Challenges Assignment

The first assignment was the Global Challenges Research Paper and Mini-Lesson. Individually, students selected a single global issue and wrote a 5-page research paper guided by the questions what is the biggest challenge facing humanity or the planet and how are people actively addressing the challenge? Specific questions for the paper included what is the global challenge selected, what are some causes, and who/what does it impact? What are the consequences if it is not addresses? What are some of the innovative/ creative ways people are addressing the global challenge? What can UCLA students do address the challenge? The students then presented a 20-minute mini-lesson pertaining to the global challenge they selected. Creative, innovative, and engaging ways of teaching were expected. The following are topics created by students:

Women and reproductive rights
Gross national Happiness
Water Scarcity
Plastic Terrorism
Mental Illness
Childhood development
Child Labor
Human Trafficking
Education in rural areas
Refugee Crises
Gender pay gap and women leadership
Functional literacy
Food insecurity
Sustainable Cities and Communities
Mass Incarceration and global economy
Global Climate Change
Energy crisis and sustainable energy sources
Waste management and prevention

Group Unit Plan on UN SDGs Assignment

The second assignment was the Group Unit Plan on UN SDGs. In four self-selected groups students designed a five-day unit plan covering at least 2 of the 17 UN SDGs United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations, 2015). The Unit Plan included an Introduction: Title, purpose/overall objectives, explaining the UN SDGS that are covered, the educational context and class/school environment; and the age group and student demographics this unit Global Commons Review 2 s Spring 2018 s Cover s Contents s About Us 65 was designed for. Framework and Theory: The group had to define global citizenship education and how their definition connects to the unit; Explain the core principals and concepts of used in the unit; The skills, knowledge and virtues emphasized in the unit; and the literature/research supports the framework. Teaching Practices: The group had to describe how the teaching practices and content were culturally relevant and interdisciplinary; and how the teaching practices relate to pedagogy for critical global citizenship education. Table of five lessons: The table was a visual representation of the unit containing name of lessons, learning objectives, key activities, name/number of SDGs. Last was a detailed description of 5 individual lessons including a description of the lesson, learning objectives, activities, assessments, key materials and literature. Note that one lesson had to include some form of community engagement project/exercise. At the end of the quarter groups were given 45 minutes to present their unit, teaching a part of a synthesis of the unit. The following are title of the group unit plans:

- Everyday Awareness: Urban and Environmental Ecosystems (SDGs 6 & 11)
- Equality and Quality Through the lenses of GCE (SDGs 4 & 5)
- Intersectional Health Issues (SDGs 3,4, 5 &10)
- Teaching Good Health and Quality Education Through STEAM (SDGs 3 &4)


Interconnectedness, Interdisciplinary and Intersectionality

The following are pedagogical themes that emerged from the selfstudy (Dorio, 2017):

Interconnectedness: An important goal of this course was to nurture a sense active global interconnectedness, especially with regards to the complex nature of global problems. Various activities allowed students to use multiple lenses to critically explore the complex multidimensional systems. A critical reflexivity helped students to realize the interconnected nature of local, national and global problems as well as assisted in recognizing ones local, national and global identities.

Interdisciplinary: Global problems are inextricably linked through various systems, and an attempt to solve a problem in isolation has the possibility of exacerbating problems in other connected systems (Weil, 2016). With students from various fields of study, there was an organic interdisciplinary nature to the course. This not only provided a richness of experiences and knowledge to class discussions, especially when discussing solutions, but it also helped students to realize the complex interdisciplinary approach needed to devise solutions. Having space in the curriculum for learning interdisciplinary skills organized around real-world issues is vital to any model of GCE.

Intersectionality: With regards to the relationship between GCE and “issues of diversity,” the class came to the conclusion that tolerance Global Commons Review 2 s Spring 2018 s Cover s Contents s About Us 67 for “the other” should not be the goal for education and society. GCE must move beyond being content with tolerance and understanding of diversity. Moreover, settling solely on tolerance maybe the reason for the failures of some models of multicultural education (Tarozzi and Torres, 2017). The class discussed that GCE needed to move beyond tolerance towards models of citizenship and education that locate injustices and call for an “outrage” towards intersectional issues of injustice, striving for policies and pedagogies that are grounded in compassion, mutual respect, humanization, and we dare to say, in the words of Freire, striving “in the creation of a world in which it will be easier to love” (2007, p.40).

Intersectionality in GCE provides formidable lenses to help locate and name the multiple ways local and global power coalesce to shape social structures as well as human-environment relationships, and to examine the ways that power of intersecting structures works against communities of color, the poverty stricken, the Global south and other marginalized groups. Thus, it can provide the means to identify, examine, and find solutions to issues of the global politics of identity. Our conversations echo the call by Stewart (2017) to move beyond diversity and inclusion toward justice and equity. Therefore, we realize that in the US for GCE to be more universally applicable, in addition to being anti-racist, anti-sexist and anti-other forms of violence, bigotry, and xenophobia, GCE must be used to dismantle, resist and disrupt the relationship between white privilege, the white savior complex and global citizenship (Straubhaar, 2015). This aligns to theories of intersectional global citizenship built upon feminist theories. Thus, any GCE must analyze the Global Commons Review 2 s Spring 2018 s Cover s Contents s About Us 68 interaction between gender and other categories such as race/ethnicity, geographical location and grounded in understanding and challenging globalization linked to present and historical structural inequalities (de Jong, 2013).

Towards a Critical Pedagogy of GCE: Overall I argue that any GCE should view education as a way to address contemporary problems, particularly merging education for social and environmental justice. A critical pedagogy of GCE must originate from the experiences of learners within particular contexts, organized around how global society impacts local contexts, and visa versa. There must be a recognition that the university is a public good, and it cannot be separated from globalization in all its forms, processes and impacts, and, conversely, in the ability that certain forms of education can transform global subjectivities and realities. This pedagogy strives to nurture global citizens that resonant with Santos’s (2007) Insurgent cosmopolitans and Shultz’s (2007) transformationalist global citizens. Meaning citizens that create globalization from below through transnationally organized resistance and solidary against the unequal exchanges produced or intensified by global relations. And those that share knowledge and build partnership to created new models of transnational relations linking marginalized people. I purpose the following intersected concepts of critical pedagogy of GCE that calls for an expanding of knowledge, responsibilities, identities and actions:

Knowledge: De-colonializing and unlearning violent ways of knowing and being in the world; deep understanding of histories Global Commons Review 2 s Spring 2018 s Cover s Contents s About Us 69 and struggles of marginalized communities in our backyards and throughout the world and including our planet; human connections; and how globalization impacts locality and, conversely, how local communities can disrupt and counter toxic forms of globalization.

Responsibility: A caring and indignation for injustices; promotes and healing and solution-making. Moving beyond tolerance towards an ethos of outrage for social and environmental injustices.

Identity: Encourages a broadening of identity; sense of belonging and mutuality with the other. Build bridges with the other, healthy connections across diversity including radical international solidarity grounded upon a delicate balance of multilevel identifications and allegiances (Banks, 2017).

Action: GCE must lead to the creation of action that counters the forces causing injustice to humanity and our planet, even if those forces are within ourselves. Actions that are necessary to create models of new possibility—a better world.

I challenge educators and students to consider the following questions: In an interconnected world, what should be the purpose of education? Do conventional educational experiences provide the knowledge, skills and values necessary to fundamentally understand what is happening in the world and how global problems impact our lives, the lives of others, communities, nations and our planet itself? What can critical forms of education do to address global problems for our planet, others and ourselves? Specifically, how can models of Global Commons Review 2 s Spring 2018 s Cover s Contents s About Us 70 GCE be used to counter neoliberal globalization and the rising rightwing nationalism?


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