Preparing global citizens

March 16, 2017

Daily media stories about global issues such as severe weather, famines, ongoing wars and rising extremism, shifting patterns of migration and the plight of refugees, and globalization and its impact on social, political and economic structures are a constant reminder that we need to prepare students to be citizens of an increasingly interdependent and complex world.

The December 2016/January 2017 issue of Educational Leadership, on the theme of the global-ready student, features articles on topics such as online collaboration and connected classrooms, cosmopolitan citizenship, global competence as an antidote to extremism and radicalization, world literature, the skills needed for a global economy, and culture-friendly schools.

An article in the same issue entitled How to Be a Global Thinker, by Veronica Boix Mansilla, states that students should be taught global thinking dispositions that include inquiring about the world, understanding multiple perspectives, employing respectful dialogue processes and taking responsible action. The author uses the 3 Ys routine to teach students to ask themselves the following three questions: Why might this issue matter to me? Why might it matter to those around me? Why might it matter around the world?

William Gaudelli, in his book Global Citizenship Education: Everyday Transcendence, discusses what it means to teach for global citizenship, and also describes ways of developing globally conscious classrooms through providing examples of human rights education, sustainability education and intracultural/intercultural education from around the world.

Teaching Globally: Reading the World Through Literature, edited by Kathy G. Short, Deanna Day, and Jean Schroeder, is geared to K-8 classrooms and includes articles by several teachers who use global children’s literature to help students learn about their own cultural identities as well as to help them attain intercultural understanding. Many of the suggested strategies will also assist teachers to integrate global perspectives into existing language arts, social studies and science curricula.

A resource developed by the Saskatchewan Council for Intercultural Cooperation is designed for middle and secondary social studies teachers. Entitled Global Citizenship Education: Module 1: Transforming Charity into Solidarity and Justice, this document contains lesson plans that are linked to provincial learning outcomes on topics such as identifying the underlying causes of social and environmental problems, applying charity and justice, using debates to practice solidarity and engaging in an inquiry project to seek justice and take action. It can be accessed at, along with eight comics geared to the Millennium Development Goals, lessons plans on food insecurity, AIDS in Africa and the rights of the child.

Several recent books focus on how the web can be used to foster global connections and awareness of global issues. Reimagining Literacy Through Global Collaboration, by Pernille Ripp, outlines the benefits of global collaboration for teachers from K-12, provides tips for creating literacy projects, and describes how to find authentic online audiences as well as how to create projects for them.

The Global School: Connecting Classrooms Around the World, by William Kist, is replete with suggestions on how to use digital tools and social networking to foster intercultural critical education. Travelling trunks, virtual field trips, Google Earth activities, blogs, and websites geared to international collaborations for students are a few of the strategies described in the book.

Julie Lindsay, in The Global Educator: Leveraging Technology for Collaborative Learning and Teaching, states that some of the attributes of a global educator include being someone who connects and shares through networked learning, flattens the learning by working with others online, and models global citizenship through having empathy with other cultures and by encouraging multiple perspectives.

To borrow the resources highlighted above, please email