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Research in Global Citizenship Education

reviewed by Angela E. Arzubiaga & Sultan Kilinc - March 08, 2016

coverTitle: Research in Global Citizenship Education
Author(s): Jason Harshman, Tami Augustine, Merry M. Merryfield (Eds.)
Publisher: Information Age Publishing, Charlotte
ISBN: 1681230674, Pages: 248, Year: 2015
Search for book at Amazon.com

Research in Global Citizenship Education examines conceptual literature and collects studies on teaching global citizenship. The term global citizenship is broadly defined as an awareness of worldwide interconnectedness and the associated social responsibility of that recognition. The editors note that the books purpose is to create a space to continue the conversation on what global citizenship entails. They accomplish this by offering a critical reflection on both the conceptualization and practice of global citizenship education (GCE).

GCE poses a challenge partially due to the complexities inherent to the term itself. Similar to Rosaldos (1994) conceptualization of the term cultural citizenship, global citizenship is a juxtaposition of two contested, and often contradictory, terms. For example, Lee (2016) discusses how a political act of self-immolation might challenge values of freedom and respect for life that are traditionally associated with citizenship. At a time when notions about citizenship are politically polarizing and the idea of globalization is also weighted by abysmal differences among beneficiaries, the conceptualization and practice of GCE is fraught with conflict and potential.

One of the main conflicts of GCE is the tension between universalism and cultural relativism. Universalism supposes human rights apply equally to all humans while cultural relativism argues that human rights are culturally dependent and produced from a hegemonic stance. From this latter perspective, teaching global citizenship runs the risk of replicating privilege.

In Chapter Two, Karen Pashby and Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti offer several models to counter the replication of privilege including the critical GCE developed by Andreotti, which serves as a reflexive tool to unpack the conceptualization and practices of GCE. The proposed models are meant to critically examine hegemony and depoliticized/paternalistic ideologies and practices, as well as highlight the interconnectedness of inequalities and socio historical contexts. The book also discusses the Through Other Eyes methodology, which focuses on learning to unlearn, learning to listen, learning to learn, and learning to reach out. This serves as a practical tool for educators to engage students in increasing their awareness, understanding, and critical perspective while addressing inequalities across the world.

Chapter Three delves into steps to address inequalities both locally and globally. Paul Tarc discusses the meaning of active in conceptual and practical ways within a GCE justice-oriented framework. Tarc argues that the way GCE is practiced can be compromised by neoliberal ideologies. He illustrates the multiple meanings of the term active and how action is enacted differently from a personally responsible versus justice-oriented citizen. Tarc presents a pedagogical heuristic, which includes learning about approaches to increase awareness, knowledge, and active engagement in interconnected global issues.

Chapter Nine studies the effects of coursework in global education and human rights on affluent adolescent girl beliefs and civic engagement. The authors find shifts in girl global citizen identities and expressions of more nuanced understandings about world problems, but do not find any changes in civic engagement. The school that was studied had future plans to augment their global citizenship foundation by developing 21st century skills and global competencies to prepare students to address real world problems. The editors raise problems and opportunities in addressing real world problems through project-based learning in Chapter Four, which studies educator online discussion forums on teaching GCE.

This book discusses the many forms GCE takes in the classroom and around the world. In Chapter Six it finds that teachers are unfamiliar with GCE terms and how to teach this subject but developed understanding over time. However, few teachers applied a critical lens or afforded a space for student exploration of global citizenship. Similarly in Chapter Five the authors discuss Canadian teachers in three metropolitan areas who placed a heavier emphasis on interconnectedness and harmony than on critically examining inequality, identity, difference, and power.

GCE also encompasses struggles between pluralism and nationalism. The way GCE is taught in each country runs the risk of being infused with nationalism or neoliberal ideologies. The authors of Chapter Seven contrast GCE in Hong Kong and Shanghai through a comparative study. Hong Kongs textbooks emphasize diversity while Shanghais books place an emphasis on the harmony among ethnic minorities and infuse nationalism into its education agenda. The difference between the two cities highlights the importance of examining sociocultural history. In Chapter Eight the authors discuss global identity development with respect to six Turkish teacher educators studying in the U.S. who share how they balance Turkish identity with global citizenship.

In the epilogue, the editors note that the conceptual literature on GCE is ahead of research. They present potential directions for the conceptualization, research, and teaching of GCE. These considerations include the questioning of GCE researchs bottom up or top down approaches and extending GCE to broader curriculum. Following their lead, we note that GCE has the potential to provide a more inclusionary vision of marginalized groups such as recent refugees. Along this line, we argue that GCE research within migrant community settlement areas can afford evolving citizenship conceptualizations, which support adaptation. Furthermore, GCE takes different forms within diverse historical contexts. For example, the use of multiple timescales (Lemke, 2001) and historical dimensions to examine GCE theory and practice may also prove to be fertile. As a whole, Research in Global Citizenship Education is a solid contribution to the ongoing dialogue regarding global citizenship.


Lee, C. T. (2016). Ingenious citizenship: Recrafting democracy for social change. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Lemke, J. L. (2001): The long and the short of it: Comments on multiple timescale studies of human activity. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 10(1-2), 1726.

Rosaldo, R. (1994). Cultural citizenship and educational democracy. Cultural Anthropology, 9(3), 402411.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: March 08, 2016
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 19562, Date Accessed: 10/24/2021 12:45:45 PM

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About the Author
  • Angela Arzubiaga
    Arizona State University
    E-mail Author
    ANGELA E. ARZUBIAGA is Associate Professor in Justice and Social Inquiry in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. She received her PhD. from The University of California at Los Angeles. She is a recipient of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development (ISSBD) and a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship. She was a Spencer and Bernard Van Leer investigator on the Children of Immigrants in US Preschool: Parent and Teacher Perspectives and the Children Crossing Borders (CCB) studies. Her research is on the education of children of immigrants, sociocultural and spatialized perspectives on family life, immigrant families' adaptations, and how media contexts afford learning about such diversity.
  • Sultan Kilinc
    Arizona State University
    E-mail Author
    SULTAN KILINC is a Ph.D. candidate in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on early childhood education. Her research areas are related to inclusive education policy and practices for diverse groups of students, (i.e. students with dis/abilities, linguistic, ethnic, racial minorities, and girls), who are marginalized and/or excluded from educational opportunities. She is also interested in the use of drama as a teaching tool to support students’ literacy practices and to construct inclusive settings.
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