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Cosmopolitanism and Education: A View From the Ground

by David T. Hansen - 2010

Background/ Context: In recent years, scholars the world over in both the social sciences and humanities have reanimated the ancient idea of cosmopolitanism. They discern in the idea ways in which people today can respond creatively to rapid social, political, cultural, and economic transformations. Scholars in this burgeoning field have examined issues involving cultural hybridity, global citizenship, environmental justice, economic redistribution, and more. In the article, I examine from a philosophical perspective how a cosmopolitan-minded education can assist people in cultivating thoughtful receptivity to the new and critical loyalty to the known.

Purpose/ Objective/ Research Question/ Focus of Study: Philosophical work has begun on possible relations between cosmopolitanism and education. However, there are virtually no published studies that deploy a systematic cosmopolitan frame of analysis in conjunction with qualitative or quantitative research. This article seeks to encourage such research by elucidating a distinctive conception of cosmopolitanism rooted in one of its long-standing strands. This strand is characterized as cosmopolitanism on the ground, and it features what has been called “philosophy as the art of living” and “actually existing cosmopolitanism.”

Research Design: The article is a philosophical investigation that builds an argument using the techniques of conceptual analysis, comparison, contrast, analogy, metaphor, illustration, and exegesis of texts.

Conclusions/ Recommendations: The long-standing strand of cosmopolitanism on the ground generates several key elements of a philosophy of cosmopolitan-minded education. These elements are (1) a recognition of the importance of local socialization as making possible education itself, (2) the recognition that a cosmopolitan outlook triggers a critical rather than idolatrous or negligent attitude toward tradition and custom, (3) the recognition that curriculum across all subjects can be understood as a cosmopolitan inheritance, and (4) the recognition that many teachers constitute an already existing cosmopolitan community and can build on their shared purposes to enhance educational practice the world over.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 112 Number 1, 2010, p. 1-30
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15411, Date Accessed: 5/16/2021 5:19:43 PM

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About the Author
  • David Hansen
    Teachers College, Columbia University
    E-mail Author
    DAVID T. HANSEN is professor and director of the Program in Philosophy and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University. He is president of the Philosophy of Education Society (North America) and a past-president of the John Dewey Society. He has recently edited Ethical Visions of Education: Philosophies in Practice (Teachers College Press, 2007).
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