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Reconceptualizing Geography as Democratic Global Citizenship Education


by William Gaudelli & Elizabeth Heilman 2009

Background: Geography education typically appears in school curricula in a didactic or disciplinary manner. Yet, both the didactic and the disciplinary approach to geography education lack a serious engagement with society, politics, and power, or democratic theory. We suggest, from Dewey, that most students, the social studies, and indeed society are not well served by these approaches, particularly as we confront global challenges that demand geographic knowledge and insight.

Purpose: We propose that geography can and should reflect the interests of students and society and thus be what Dewey calls psychologized through a democratic vision of global citizenship education (GCE). Toward that end, we develop a typology of global education to identify those types most congruent with democratic citizenship (cosmopolitan, environmental, and critical justice) and those less congruent (disciplinary, neoliberal, and human relations). Drawing on our typology, we show how GCE can be a point of synthesis in practice, bringing together global education and reconstituted geographic knowledge.

Research Design: The method of this article is a secondary analysis of literature in democratic theory, global citizenship education, and geography education that synthesizes points of overlap.

Conclusions: Based on this analysis, we recommend that geography curriculum should be remade within a vision similar to GCE so that space and place can be socially understood.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 111 Number 11, 2009, p. 2647-2677
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15450, Date Accessed: 4/24/2014 10:22:01 AM

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About the Author
  • William Gaudelli
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    WILLIAM GAUDELLI, EdD, is associate professor of social studies and education in the Department of Arts and Humanities at Teachers College, Columbia University. His research areas include global education, teacher development, and media as curricular material. He is the author of more than 30 articles and book chapters, and two books, including World Class: Teaching and Learning in Global Times (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003).
  • Elizabeth Heilman
    Michigan State University
    E-mail Author
    ELIZABETH HEILMAN, PhD, is associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. Her work is characterized by interdisciplinary scholarship and explores how social and political imaginations are shaped and how various philosophies, policies, and pedagogies influence the practice of democratic citizenship, especially global citizenship. She is the author or editor of more than 35 book chapters and articles and five books, including Reclaiming Education for Democracy (Routledge, 2008).
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