top of page

Global Citizen Education: A Responsiveness to Culture

Deeper learning was first developed to make learning more relevant, rigorous, and effective for students both in the classroom and in real life, such that students take ownership of their own learning. Although global citizenship is not in and of itself deeper learning, it is one way in which we can consider applying deeper learning in our classrooms.

As educators, we need to prepare students to address the brokenness of our world manifested as inequity and injustice, both locally and worldwide. As global citizens, we should guide students to see the world through God’s eyes by considering multiple perspectives, valuing differences, showing empathy, and caring for the world we have been entrusted with. 

Global education is one of the focuses in the United Nations’s Sustainable Development Goals framework that was designed for implementation in classrooms between 2015 and 2030. Specifically, it states: “By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equity, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development” (UNESCO, 2016, p. 287). As we are quickly approaching the end date to achieve this goal, we have significant work ahead of us. 

As Cummins reminds us in his 2014 article “Teaching Through a Multicultural Lens: Classroom Resources for Global Education,” “We don’t have to travel very far to find the global in local classrooms” (p. 12). When we look around, we will find that most of our classes are represented by students with a variety of ethnic backgrounds. A good place to start learning about the world is within our own classes. Teachers, students, their parents, and those in our communities can all learn from one another by asking each other questions and listening to each other’s stories.

In the article “Expanding Approaches to Teaching for Diversity and Justice in K-12 Education: Fostering Global Citizenship Across the Content Areas,” the authors suggest three main signature pedagogies in global education that support students in their development of global citizenship:

  1. International integration of global topics and multiple perspectives into and across the standard curriculum,

  2. Ongoing authentic engagement with global issues, and

  3. Connecting teachers’ global experiences, students’ global experiences, and the curriculum (Tichnor-Wagner et al., 2016, p. 12).

It is best to develop global competence within the context of our teaching and classroom environments. Students should develop global competence while they are learning new skills and knowledge, not as an afterthought (Mansilla & Jackson, 2011). Ideally, one would want to weave the three signature pedagogies throughout the school day in all subject areas so that they do not become add-ons but rather genuine topics that engage deeper learning.

Global educators encourage us to “think globally and act locally” (Evans, 2014, p. 38). The opportunities that we have to think and act this way exist in our classrooms and our own communities. Together with our students, we need to challenge ourselves by first looking at our own actions and our biases and how they may need to change to grow into the global citizens we are meant to be.

My own thinking about students who are English language learners (ELLs) has been challenged, for example, by the ideas of global citizenship. I remember the days not so many years ago when ELLs were forbidden to speak their native language at school. Even out in the playground at recess, they needed to hide the fact that they spoke anything other than English. We have since learned that this is not good pedagogy. Cummins points out, however, that we continue to see ELLs as deficient until they learn the language. An important question to ask ourselves is, “How can we value students’ language and culture within the context of learning a new language?” 


Cummins, J. (2014). Teaching through a multicultural lens: Classroom resources for global education. In Montemurro, D., Gambhir, M., Evans, M., & Broad, K. (Eds.). Inquiry into practice: Learning and teaching global matters in local classrooms. OISE. 

Evans, R. (2014). The global ideas institute: Insights into the place of the local in global education. In Montemurro, D., Gambhir, M., Evans, M., & Broad, K. (Eds.). Inquiry into practice: Learning and teaching global matters in local classrooms. OISE. 

Mansilla, V. B., & Jackson, A. (2011). Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World. E. Omerso (Ed.), New York, NY: Asia Society/CCSSO. (pp.1-75)

UNESCO. (2016). Education for people and planet: Creating sustainable futures for all. Global Education Monitoring Report, 2016. Paris: UNESCO.


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page