Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education, Vol 4, No 1 (2014)

 Preparing Teachers to Educate for 21st Century Global Citizenship: Envisioning and Enacting

Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education
Volume 4 Number 1 2014

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Preparing Teachers to Educate for 21st Century Global Citizenship: Envisioning and Enacting

Linyuan Guo

Assistant Professor of Faculty of Education
University of Prince Edward Island

Keywords: 21st century Global Citizenship, Educating for Global Citizenship, Global Educators, Teacher Preparation

ABSTRACT: The changing educational landscape in the global context and the increasing interconnectedness and interdependence of the world have placed unprecedented demands on teacher education programs in preparing teachers to educate for 21st century global citizenship in K-12 schools. To chart the course of preparing global educators for an interconnected world, the Faculty of Education at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) and UNICEF Canada have collaboratively developed an undergraduate course, entitled Educating for Global Citizenship. It focuses on preparing educators to teach for 21st century global citizenship and has been integrated into UPEI's teacher preparation program as a compulsory course. This paper is based on a three-year study examining teacher candidates' experiences in learning to educate for global citizenship, the changes of their perceptions on global citizenship education, and the challenges and achievements they experienced in educational practices. Findings from this study indicate the unique opportunities and challenges teachers face in learning to educate for global citizenship and suggest the necessity of integrating global citizenship education in teacher education programs through a holistic approach.


Phenomenal advances in information and communication technologies and transnational migration have greatly increased the interdependence and interconnectedness of people and places. This has coincided with the emergence of a new set of global challenges, including increasingly integrated and knowledge-driven economies; greater migration between countries and from rural to urban areas; growing inequalities; increased awareness of climate change and environmental degradation; acceleration of globalization; and rapid developments in technology. Meanwhile, linguistic, cultural and racial diversity has become a salient feature of the Canadian school environment because of a rapid increase in immigrant families, internal migration, and growth in the Aboriginal population (Apple, 2011; Beck, 2012; Tupper & Cappello, 2010). The changing educational landscape places critical demands on teachers to be culturally and pedagogically competent in addressing issues of globalization, racism, diversity, and social justice, and in creating an equitable and inclusive learning environment for all students (Burbules & Torres, 2000; Evans, 2006a; Evans, 2006b; Guo, 2013; Pike, 2008; Reid, Gill, & Sears, 2010).

Today's students are graduating into a world that is interconnected as never before. As citizens in the 21st century, they are required to be responsible and responsive to the myriad complex problems and issues of global and local concern, whether in health, environment, peace, or economic security. This shifting global context demands that students today develop the knowledge, skills, attributes, and commitment to global citizenship through the educational process.

Conceptualizing Global Citizenship

Global citizenship does not entail legal status, and cannot be simply defined as progressive politics or extensive world travel. It is a 21st-century approach to living in which principles of global responsibility and accountability are applied to everyday local actions and complex global problems are addressed on an individual basis. Global citizenry requires awareness and action consistent with a broad understanding of humanity, the planet, and the impact of our decisions on both. Students in the 21st century need global citizenship education in order to be empowered with the knowledge, skills, and values that can assist them in taking actions to address the interconnected social, political, cultural and global realities of the 21st century.

Engagement with global citizenship literature indicates that global citizenship is still a contesting concept and means different things for different authors (Abdi & Shultz, 2008; Bennett, 2008; Carr & Porfilio, 2012; Davies, Evans, & Reid, 2005; Dower, 2003; Evans, Ingram, MacDonald, & Weber, 2009; Hébert, 2010; Hicks, 2003; Kerr, 2002; Mundy, Manion, Masemann, & Haggerty, 2007; Oxley & Morris, 2013; Peters, Blee, & Britton, 2008; Pike, 2000; Shultz, 2007). However, the cross-cutting themes of most literature on the global citizenship philosophy confirm that a global citizen should demonstrate some or all of the following characteristics, including:

  • Respect for fellow humans, regardless of race, gender, age, religion, or political views;
  • Appreciation for diversity and multiple perspectives;
  • A view that no single society or culture is inherently superior to any other;
  • Cherishing the natural world and respecting the rights of all living things;
  • Practising and encouraging sustainable patterns of living, consumption and production;
  • Striving to resolve conflicts without the use of violence;
  • Be responsible for solving pressing global challenges in whichever way they can;
  • Think globally and act locally in eradicating inequality and injustice in all their forms.

Educational practices conducted through the lens of global citizenship aim to prepare students to become global citizens with the above characteristics. The ultimate objectives of global citizenship education (GCE) is to build a sense of belonging with a global community and a common humanity, and nurture a feeling of global solidarity, identity and responsibility that generates actions that are not only based on, but also respect universal values. While the values associated with global citizenship education are not new, GCE as a lens of conducting educational practice and as an area of learning and teaching is still an emerging phenomenon with growing worldwide interest. How teachers can be change agents in the classrooms and the wider school community and how teacher-training programs can be designed and adjusted to support the goals of GCE have become fundamental questions for global education communities.

The Call for Preparing Teachers to Educate for Global Citizenship

Recent studies indicate that many new teachers rarely begin their careers with the deep knowledge and robust skills necessary to respond to the wide diversity of learners in their classrooms (Desveaux & Guo, 2011; Goddard, 2013; Schneider, 2007). While receiving training in teacher preparation programs, many teacher candidates are not adequately equipped with the theoretical understanding and professional skills to effectively engage and enable students to become global citizens who can be responsible for creating a more peaceful, environmentally secure and just world (Merryfield, 2000; Pike, 2008; Reimer & McLean, 2009; Weber, Evans, MacDonald, & Ingram, 2013). A lack of understanding of how to develop teacher candidates' professional competency in educating for global citizenship has been identified as a key challenge across teacher education programs in Canada and around the world (Devlin-Foltz, 2010; Noddings, 2005; O'Sullivan, 2008; O'Sullivan & Pashby, 2008; Sears & Hughes, 2006; Shultz, Abdi & Richardson, 2011; UNESCO, 2013).

The urgency of preparing teachers to educate for global citizenship in Canada is two-fold. First, Canadian classrooms are becoming increasingly diverse linguistically, culturally, and ethnically because of a rapid increase in the population of immigrant and refugee families as well as internal migration. This environment demands that teachers be culturally competent to address the diversity issues and promote inclusive educational practices. Second, globalization has increased interconnectedness among countries, notably in the areas of economic security, culture, technology, health, and peace. This context requires teachers to be pedagogically competent to help students intellectually and morally examine the complex and controversial global issues, act as responsible global citizens for sustainable development of local and international communities, and promote holistic thinking and cross-cultural understanding.

Research to date indicates that although teachers recognize the importance of global citizenship as a theme in the school curriculum and interest among them in integrating global citizenship into their practice is high, many teachers lack the confidence and pedagogic skills to educate for global citizenship (Desveaux & Guo, 2011; Kelly, 2004; McLean, Cook, & Crowe, 2006; Reimer & McLean, 2009; Richardson & Blades, 2006; Schweisfurth, 2006; Sears & Hughes, 2006). Teachers need to develop their global competencies in order to teach for 21st century global citizenship. A teacher's global competence refers to a set of skills and knowledge that she/he needs in order:

… to be aware of the global nature of societal issues, to care about people in distant places, to understand the nature of global economic integration, to appreciate the interconnectedness and interdependence of peoples, to respect and protect cultural diversity, to fight for social justice for all, and to protect planet earth – home for all human beings. (Zhao, 2010, p. 426)

Similarly, other relevant literature emphasize that a globally competent teacher should have the following (Carano, 2013; Guo, 2012, Guo, 2013; Holden & Hicks, 2007; Larsen & Faden, 2008; Longview Foundation, 2008; McLean & Cook, 2011; Merryfield, 2000; Pike, 2008; UNESCO, 2013):

  • Knowledge of the interdependency of world events and issues;
  • Pedagogical skills to help students analyze and appreciate multiple perspectives and multicultural traditions;
  • Intercultural competency and greater adaptability to the range of social and cultural norms that are faced in their classrooms; and
  • Commitment to assist students in becoming responsible global citizens.

Charting the Path toward Educating for Global Citizenship in Canada

To prepare teachers to educate for 21st century global citizenship, the Canadian federal government sponsored a nationwide three-year Global Classroom Initiative (2009-2012), entitled Strengthening Global Education in Canadian Faculties of Education. The goal of this project was to increase the number of Canadian teachers and students practising global education and to enhance teachers' abilities to integrate curriculum-mandated teaching and learning for human rights, peace, social justice, cultural competency, environmental awareness, and global citizenship in their classrooms.

This project was implemented by UNICEF Canada with consultancy support from the education faculties at seven Canadian universities: University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI); University of Ottawa; the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education; Université du Québec à Montréal; Université de Sherbrooke; University of British Columbia; and Vancouver Island University. By the end of the program, this project achieved the following outcomes:

  • More than 7,000 teacher candidates and practising teachers have participated in workshops on global education;
  • New elementary- and secondary-teacher resource guides have been created for use by teacher candidates at all seven universities;
  • One new course on Global Citizenship has been developed, piloted and offered as a compulsory course for the teacher preparation program at UPEI;
  • Teacher educators who were involved in this project have deepened their understanding of global education and children's rights through self-directed learning and curriculum review.

In focusing on global education through a rights-based lens, this project acknowledges that universal children's rights have a significant role to play in preparing young people to reach their potential as global citizens. Combining interactive, learner-centred and democratic pedagogies with global-oriented themes, the project activities were implemented through multiple educational approaches, including citizenship education, peace education, multicultural education, human rights education, and learner-centred pedagogies.

Educating for Global Citizenship in Teacher Preparation

In the global context, the United Kingdom has led the world in introducing global education at its educational institutions. In Canada, there have been efforts since 1987 to support global education. Along with help from the Canadian International Development Agency, provincial teachers' federations, and NGOs, global education projects were established in a majority of Canadian provinces through the global classroom initiative administered by UNICEF Canada (Pike, 2008). The array of tools in global citizenship education curriculum, teaching materials, and learning activities has increased greatly in the past decades and is readily available. However, the literature review conducted in this study indicates that there has been an insufficient focus on global citizenship education in teacher preparation and development programs in Canada and other parts of the world.

Research and literature (Appleyard & McLean, 2011; Evans, 2006; Peck, Thompson, Chareka, Joshee, & Sears, 2010; Guo, 2011; Guo, 2013; O'Sullivan & Pashby, 2008; Pike, 2008; McLean, 2010; Reimer & McLean, 2009; Tupper & Cappello, 2012) have clearly stated the urgency of introducing global citizenship education into teacher preparation programs so that teachers are equipped with knowledge and skills to bring global perspectives into teaching and learning. These studies have emphasized that schools need to work closely with communities and engage all teachers, staff, students, and community stakeholders to make GCE more prominent in classrooms, schools, and communities. As a response to this urgent need, a 30-hour undergraduate teacher education course, entitled Educating for Global Citizenship, was developed jointly by UPEI and UNICEF Canada focusing on the following topics:

  1.  Introduction to global citizenship and global citizenship education
  2.  Goals and objectives of education for global citizenship?
  3.  Key concepts and themes in global citizen education
  4.  GCE pedagogy
  5.  GCE assessment and evaluation
  6.  Rights respecting educational practices
  7.  Valuing and promoting diversity through GCE
  8.  Connecting GCE to school curricula
  9.  GCE in action

In addition to the philosophy and theories of GCE, interdependence, images and perceptions, social justice, conflict and conflict resolution, and sustainable action are chosen as the key concepts woven into the whole course. Under each key concept, a variety of global issues were explored. For instance, the concept of interdependence was examined and understood by investigating the issues of pollution, climate change, trade, community, migration, and biodiversity. Most participants confirmed that they really enjoyed the learning process of global citizenship education because the curriculum content demonstrates the modernity and universality of the issues and topics.

While introducing the head, hand, and heart approach and critical global education as two major global citizenship education pedagogies to teacher candidates, the course was delivered as a modelling of these two pedagogic approaches in action. For teacher candidates, learning how to make connections between the curriculum outcomes and daily planning and teaching practices is critical. Atlantic Canada curriculum documents and outcomes were adopted in helping teacher candidates identify links between the core concepts/topics and existing specific curriculum outcomes in different disciplines and levels. Course participants were encouraged to develop lesson and/or work plans that followed global citizenship education principles while answering to mandated outcomes in the K-12 curriculum. They were also required to practice and reflect on global citizenship education during teaching practices in formal or informal educational settings.

Study Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of teacher candidates' lived experiences in learning to educate for global citizenship. It addressed the following three questions:

  • What are the teacher candidates' feedback on GCE curriculum and pedagogy?
  • What were their achievements and challenges from the teaching practice?
  • What does global citizenship education mean for the teacher candidates?

Context of the Study

This study was conducted in the context of the teacher preparation program at UPEI, whose teacher candidates come not only from the Atlantic Provinces but from across Canada. The faculty of education at UPEI recognizes that teacher education program and professional development courses have a key role in equipping teachers with the necessary competence in educating for global citizenship in K-12 schools. The specialization in international education, a program established in 1998 and associated with UPEI's bachelor of education program, has a mandate to increase teacher candidates' understanding of global issues, develop their pedagogical skills in infusing global perspectives into curricula and educational practices, and enhance their professional capacity in actively contributing to culturally diverse educational settings. To fulfill this educational mandate, collaboration between the faculty of education at UPEI and UNICEF Canada focused on preparing teachers to educate for global citizenship through the development and introduction of a new undergraduate course on global citizenship education. Educating for Global Citizenship is designed to prepare teachers to teach themes such as diversity, equity, human rights, peace, social justice, cultural competency, environmental awareness, and global citizenship in their classrooms. This collaborative effort in infusing global citizenship education into teachers' education provides an ideal context in examining the unique conditions, challenges, and experiences of both teacher educators and teacher learners for the purposes of educating for global citizenship through innovative practices.

Theoretical Framework of the Study

For the objectives of this study, the author developed a theoretical framework to guide the data collection and analysis of the study called critical global educator identity formation. This framework is informed by two related bodies of literature: critical global citizenship education and teacher identity formation.

Critical global citizenship education involves the development of critical engagement and reflexivity skills. It emphasizes the analysis and critique of the relationships among perspectives, language, power, social groups, and social practices by the learners. It aims to help learners understand the origins of assumptions and implications by providing them space to reflect on their context, beliefs, social relationships, and the distribution of power, labour, and resources. It has a transformative political agenda and is more in line with the work of critical researchers such as Giroux (1993) and Shor (1996), who have long urged educators to rethink or critique the relations of power and knowledge distribution that support and validate mainstream values and traditions. Critical global citizenship education involves deconstructing traditional knowledge and power boundaries and constructing knowledge that includes, rather than excludes, diverse world views (Andreotti, 2011; Andreotti & de Souza, 2012; St. Denis, 2007).

As Britzman (2003) explains, teaching identities emerge partly from the professional skills and subject discipline during formal teacher education, but also at a more unconscious level, from individual biographies of family, community, and learning experiences, and from personal, often unarticulated, investments in teaching. In an attempt to understand better how the complex and fluid nature of teacher identity formation relates to the development of teachers' awareness regarding social injustices, complacency, and diverse perspectives, a critical global educator identity formation framework consisting of four interrelated themes (as shown below) was adopted to describe a process that relates encounters with global competency to teacher candidates' personal and professional identity formation:

  • Building the global dimension of subject knowledge and curriculum;
  • Examining multiple perspectives and assumptions/biases;
  • Developing culturally responsive pedagogy;
  • Reflecting and debriefing.

Research Methodology

This study adopted a case-study approach. The methodology of case studies enabled for a focus on the particularity and complexity of a single case to understand an activity and its significance (Creswell, 2012; Stake, 1995; Yin, 2013). This methodology also allowed the researcher to focus on the particularity and complexity of a single program and institution to understand how to prepare teachers to educate for global citizenship and the significance of this issue to related practices.

Over the period of three years, this study involved four main phases: 1) review of literature on global citizenship education; 2) global citizenship curriculum development and delivery; 3) investigation of the impact of teacher education infused by global education on teachers' educational practices; and 4) data analysis and knowledge mobilization.

Participants in this study included 45 teacher candidates who enrolled in the course, Educating for Global Citizenship. Most of the teacher candidates were from PEI and other Atlantic provinces and had limited teaching experience. These participants focused on various subject areas throughout the K-12 grade levels.

As researcher, the author also assumed the role of course instructor. Therefore, the survey questions focused primarily on the course topics and content instead of the instructor's teaching skills. Participants were asked to comment on what they liked about the topic/lesson, the appropriateness of the learning activities designed for each topic, the key ideas they learned from each topic, and how they would like to integrate the topics into future teaching practices, and what they would like to change about the topics/lessons.

Data analysis was an ongoing process in this study, with primary analysis focusing on the critical analysis, triangulation, and comparison of all information gathered from all primary and secondary sources, including questionnaires, teacher educators' reflections, student diaries, and focus-group interviews. First, the data was organized based on category. Then the data was coded based on themes that were triangulated for each category to build another layer of analysis. Finally, the essence of the relevant themes derived from this multilayered case analysis was captured and interpreted to advance conceptual understanding of preparing global educators through the lens of global citizenship education.

To ensure the anonymity and confidentiality of participants, all names used in this paper are pseudonyms.

Findings and Discussion

Teachers' previous experiences with GCE

While recognizing the significance and responsibility to help students become responsible citizens in the 21st century, the majority of teacher candidates reported limited understanding of and experiences with global citizenship education. Those who had taken university courses with international focuses and those who specialized in teaching social studies affirmed more experience and familiarity with the topics and themes of global citizenship education.

Many teacher candidates indicated that they had encountered teachable moments related to the themes of global citizenship, but were not able to fully utilize these moments for global citizenship education. In her teaching reflection, Anna explained how she handled a teaching moment related to GCE when conducting a practicum:

I read a book with my students that dealt with multiculturalism and diversity. [But I] didn't get into any lessons or units on such topics. [I] just sort of scraped the surface of it. If I have had learnt how to relate this topic to promoting global citizenship, as we did in this course, I would have handled the situation differently. (personal conversation, December 14, 2012),

All participants noted that many other courses offered in the teacher preparation program touched on some overlapping themes such as cultural inclusion, development of multiple perspectives, and critical literacy. However, there's no clear connection between these learning outcomes and the objectives of global citizenship education. They indicated that this was their very first university course that focused on a systematic approach to promoting education for global citizenship through educational practices.

Feedback on Educating for Global Citizenship course

During two pilot deliveries of the course, participants were asked to provide feedback on each topic based on the following questions:

  1. To what extent do you think the style of the presentation was appropriate (i.e., Use of props and/or media support)?
  2. To what extent do you think the activities were useful and/or enjoyable?
  3. To what extent do you think the activities have enhanced your understanding of global citizenship education?
  4. To what extent do you think the key ideas and activities can be adopted in your future teaching practice or educational role?

The participants' responses to these questions indicated that the instructional methods adopted in this course – a combination of visual/media support and experiential learning activities – was effective and appropriate in helping them explore the meaning and context of global citizenship education as well as its core concepts. They noted frequently that the media they used to explore some global issues/topics were very applicable and informative. Participants particularly noted a number of specific instructional strategies adopted through the course, such as a global cafe, GCE lesson planning and presentation, and critical conversations on various concepts. Teacher candidates had opportunities to develop lesson and/or work plans based on global citizenship education principles while answering to mandated outcomes in the K-12 curriculum. They reported that these hands-on learning-to-teach opportunities empowered them to develop professional competencies to lead learning for citizenship at the local, national and global levels.

Understanding and applying appropriate global citizenship pedagogy into various school subjects and levels is a critical learning objective of this teacher education course. Global citizenship pedagogy aims to inspire transformation. Therefore, a critical element of global citizenship pedagogy is to create an open and safe space where learners are invited to engage critically with their own and, with a diversity of perspectives, to think independently and make informed and responsible decisions based on critical literacy and self-reflexivity.

Beyond the use of global themes and topics, it is usually a challenge initially for beginning teachers to think about which teaching and learning practices and approaches are best for a classroom that embraces global citizenship – especially with relation to the action component. Through this course, participants realized that many approaches that were favoured in a classroom promoting global citizenry were similar to those that were core to good teaching practice and pedagogy in general. These include role-playing, inquiry-based learning, learner-centred and participatory activities, and democratic practices that apply both in classroom-based learning and outside school. The pedagogies presented in this course were nourished by a variety of sources and perspectives, but the common educational goal they shared was to promote respectful dialogue and positive social change. Participants indicated that they had benefited from learning specific GCE pedagogic approaches through this course. The learner-centred activities designed for each topic, especially those focusing on dev eloping multiple critical perspectives, were much appreciated by the participants. They agreed that these experiential learning experiences and methods could be applied in classroom settings and demonstrated the possibilities of integrating GCE into their future classrooms.

Many participants realized how their influence on students pertains to introducing GCE. Some participants suggested that the course on GCE should become mandatory for all teacher candidates, as students and teachers alike would be further educated and pushed to make changes – a sort of snowball effect of global citizenship. Some participants stated seeing students thinking globally and critically provide a sort of fulfillment on the part of teachers.

All the participants acknowledged that the teaching resources provided through the course, such as the binder, websites, and discs, were extremely helpful and much appreciated. They commented that the dual approach of extensive resources and instruction, better allowed them to understand how to apply the approaches in the classroom. A brief discussion of a preferred medium for materials was had, which reflected a partiality to online or electronic content, with a comfort in written instruction as well.

All participants indicated that they would recommend the course to other teachers because of the personal growth and learning they achieved through this course. One participant commented that the modernity and universality of the topics has kept her learning interest and motivation high. Other participants described how the course responded to the needs of the increasing immigrant population in Canada, which is reflected in today's classrooms.

Teachers' changed perceptions on GCE through the course

Initially, GCE was not perceived as a clear concept to all participants. Some participants explained that they originally thought the term meant being open and accepting of other people and their attributes. They later came to realize that this term implies much wider meanings than they were aware. Some participants indicated that their understanding of global citizenship education was heightened after taking this course. Susan commented:

I used to think that global citizenship meant having an open mind about people and everything in general that goes on around you. I think there's so much more than that. It's thinking actively, it's not so much just going with the flow, and being friendly with everyone, and trying not to be discriminate, not to have racism or discrimination against everyone. But now it's actually thinking actively and thinking of how you can better your students, and better your school, and better yourself. (group conversation, April 20, 2010)

All participants indicated that they gained new understandings of global citizenship education. John shared his newly gained understanding:

GCE deals with the big issues of our time: wealth and poverty; equality and justice; access and exclusion; rights and democracy, freedom and authority. It widens our horizons, but also brings ambivalence. It calls teachers for much greater political and ecological awareness, the professional capacity in handling controversial issues in the classroom, and the commitment to ensuring that diverse perspectives are adequately represented. Teaching is not a neutral activity, but always involves value judgements about the kind of knowledge that is deemed worthwhile. (Focus group conversation, April 20, 2010)

John's comment demonstrated an enriched personal understanding of global citizenship education, but it also reminded teachers about the potentially problematic aspects of GCE – what is covered, who decides and why? Is it teacher- or student-driven? From whose perspective is it taught? And why use that particular framework and who is interpreting/placing this judgment? GCE is not just teaching about social injustice (which needs to be delved into responsibly and respectfully), but also analyzing the cause, history and presentation of injustice. Teachers need to know that they cannot just follow a curriculum or rely on their own attitudes about a particular topic, and that it is about engaging conversations and losing some control when critically analyzing something that might be accepted in the world. As the instructor of the course, I believe this principle was critical and fundamental and it needed to be clarified, emphasized and exercised frequently in deepening teacher candidates' understanding and practices of GCE.

Some teacher candidates noted that the course provided an expansion of the terms they had previously rarely thought about, such as interdependence. Mary, for example, expressed a deep appreciation of critical approach in global citizenship education: "I think talking critically is where I learned the most too. Even if I hadn't taught with the global citizenship in mind, that it's been very soft. So my challenge is to take it to the next level" (group conversation, May 8, 2012).

A number of participants expressed that the emphasis on active engagement in GCE was very inspiring and applicable in educational practices. They had always wanted students to be informed and engaged in community life, but the GCE course made them realize that civic engagement should be expanded from the local community to a global level.

At the beginning of the course, many teacher candidates wished they could be teaching subjects such as social studies or global issues, as they felt the global content could be more easily incorporated into planning and teaching these subjects than STEM subjects such as mathematics or sciences. By the end of the course, all teacher candidates, no matter what subject areas they majored in, indicated they could incorporate GCE topics/themes in teaching practices. Teacher candidates especially appreciated the topic of critical versus soft global education pedagogy and were able to identify age-appropriate approaches based on the pros and cons of these two paths. Some participants suggested more hands-on learning opportunities with the resources in order to properly know how to execute them in classroom settings.

When asked about their view on the benefits educators could gain from global citizenship education, teacher candidates concluded that the allowance of creativity and deviation from the typical curriculum was a benefit of GCE. The focus group discovered that the participants would enjoy creating lessons that, while including curricular outcomes provided by the province, incorporate global citizenship education initiatives and topics. It was also explained that including global citizenship education topics gave "an excuse" to participants to keep abreast of current affairs and global issues.

On the benefits of global citizenship education, the participants commented that GCE allowed for an outlet and impetus to become knowledgeable in global issues and current affairs, and getting creative with the given curriculum. On the latter point, participants explained that altering the regular curriculum could provide a more interesting and engaging classroom for students, and that it would also provide them opportunities to think on a global scale. It was discussed that many students in rural settings may not have an outlet or reason to become educated on global issues and that school may be the best place for them to gain information about the rest of the world.

Teachers' perceived challenges and opportunities in GCE

It was discussed among focus group participants that because of the regional area in which they were situated, they would encounter parents and students who take issue with topics and activities from the course. Both students felt that closed-mindedness would be a potential issue in the locale. A lack of acknowledgement that global citizenship is important was also a perceived and anticipated issue. One participant mentioned a particular class activity that related to innate social prejudices that people carried without knowledge of them. Many teacher candidates were concerned and expressed that some GCE topics, particularly the approach to identifying prejudices, would potentially offend some educational stakeholders. The issue of others not considering GCE as important was touched upon by a number of participants as well. Many felt that administration, parents, society, etc. would feel that such activities as discussed would not be suitable for a traditional learning environment, and therefore not proper. Such concerns emerged during the course, with teacher candidates' practica reminding us that if GCE was not done respectfully and professionally with a long-term commitment to dialogue with the broader community, the justice-oriented education community members and staff would encounter roadblocks to true GCE and remain on the traditional path.

Greater GCE opportunities were discussed by the focus group participants. These opportunities in integrating global citizenship included going outside the classroom – both physically and topically. The participants favoured student activism and trips outside of the school to better understand the world around them. Some participants emphasized that purposeful endeavours in the community must be enforced and further integrated into the classroom.

Most teacher candidates suggested mandatory global citizenship-style courses in the curriculum. Others, while equally adamant about GCE, thought that cross-curricular integration was a more effective form of educating youth on global issues. Additionally, the participants explained that they had expanded the discussion generated from the GCE course to other classes they were taking at UPEI. Despite the perceived challenges, the majority of the group emphasized the importance of integrating GCE into teaching and learning. Mark stated that:

I truly believe that is important to bring in global education into every classroom. Student's need to be aware of the global world so that they understand diversity, respect diversity, and accept diversity. Students cannot take action unless they understand and know about something. Through integrating global education with the curriculum I will bring, welcome, and motivate diversity in and throughout my classroom . (group conversation, May 8, 2011)

Teachers' needs for implementing GCE

Participants described other opportunities and resources that they felt would be appropriate within the parameters of professional development. It was discussed that a list of resources (e.g., literature) would be beneficial for both teacher candidates and in-service teachers taking the course, such as those available from the university or public library to attain for knowledge or creation of lesson plans. The participants also suggested a list be provided to their peers of websites and places to take students on field trips, or additional global issues topics to explore. The participants also discussed, while acknowledging that the course is partially created by UNICEF, the abundance of literature that are characterized by UNICEF's aims. It was suggested that a diverse view and contexts on global citizenship education was presented through this course as an approach to form a broader critical perspective on GCE. An example given to this effect was Greenpeace, which in terms of global initiatives in civil society, operates within an environmental context. It was also discussed that a general overview and history of rights would be beneficial to the class.

A particularly well-received suggestion from the participants was the idea of practising the activities and methods taught in the course in a classroom setting. As the participants are bachelor of education students, they only have practicum experience to rely on to incorporate global citizenship education into their teaching. It was suggested that participants be able to take trips to schools in order to practise their newly acquired skills with regard to global citizenship education. Another suggestion was to work the course into the practicum setting and allow a practice of skills there, along with reflection work to be counted for the course. This general suggestion was strongly recommended by all participants.

An interesting note was that one participant mentioned providing a website of the resources instead of a physical binder. This would enhance ease for teachers, as well as other instructors not privy to the contents of the course. It would provide a quick and easy way for teachers to incorporate GCE into the classroom, without having to find the single binder at school or home. Another participant suggested a wiki format, which would be simple to use and to which teachers could contribute.

Teaching participants showed strong interest in participating in the curriculum development of a GCE course, indicating that collaboration with teachers would aid in the development of the course.

More professional development initiatives would be helpful for the participants in order to further integrate GCE into their classrooms. The idea of having people on call to do talks to teachers and students alike would be favourable; having guest speakers speak to classes or teachers on PD days. Participants also showed their interests and willingness to exchange teaching resources, such as lesson plans and teaching materials. They believed that this would provide for more encouragement and communal learning for method-based education.

Teachers' understanding of rights-respecting educational practices

Though it is not an easy process to embark on, child rights-based education is reported as an effective approach to bring about positive and lasting change for children, their families and communities (UNESCO, 2013; Guo, 2011). It has been argued by some scholars that a limitation of global citizenship education was the possibility that the importance of human rights might be forgotten (Abdi & Shultz, 2008). It is this author's strong belief that every child should have every opportunity to enjoy a decent and dignified quality of life and education should have no exceptions. For this reason, a topic on rights-respecting educational practices was developed and incorporated into the course to exemplify how to move from a conceptual understanding of children's rights to practical applications in educational settings. In addition to providing a range of articles, explanations, tools, checklists and key references in the course resource package, the exploration and understanding of the concept was facilitated through global experiences and case studies of successful educational experiences.

Before taking this course, all participants indicated they had very little experience with children's rights. As John explained:

I never really thought about it [children's rights] all that much. I just thought they were basic human rights, like free speech, and what are the rights to life. I never really thought about the rights of a child in a classroom setting. (group conversation, November 16, 2010)

After gaining a basic understanding of children's rights from this course, all participants agreed that integrating the rights-respecting philosophy and principles into education practice would benefit all children, particularly those who would otherwise be left out of the educational process and system. Some participants felt more informed in recognizing the classrooms where not all students were given enough or equal attention by the teacher or school. They indicated that teaching through the lens of children's rights could have a remedial effect on inequity in education and could also change the dynamics of the classroom to make it more inclusive.

Challenges to a rights-respecting educational approach were also brought forth in this study. The common concern shared by teacher candidates was that they didn't have a solid understanding of the issue with relation to human rights, particularly children's rights. As a result, the topic of rights-respecting educational practices was an entirely new, yet difficult, topic for them to apprehend. This suggests that a general overview of the history of human rights and some critical perspectives on understanding issues related to human rights, particularly children's rights, would be beneficial and critical for teacher candidates. Teacher candidates also mentioned that young children who had little experience in problematic situations may not fully comprehend the issues related to children's rights, such as poverty or malnutrition, so they needed to implement age- and context-appropriate pedagogy to develop young learners' awareness on these issues . Participants did emphasize that it was equally important for teachers to apply age-appropriate strategies in facilitating students' understanding of this topic.

Teaching reflections on educating for global citizenship

Over the course of this study, all participants in this study were asked to implement global citizenship education and reflect on the content, pedagogy, assessment, student engagement, and the achievements and difficulties they encountered during a four-week practicum.

The majority of the participants were able to identify opportunities to implement some activities or lessons focusing on global citizenship education. These activities and lessons were conducted in all subject areas and at various levels from kindergarten to college. Teacher candidates experienced and reported tremendous positive change among learners after infusing global citizenship education into teaching and learning. Susan commented in her teaching reflection that, "From this practicum experience, I was able to see first-hand how students responded to my teachings that incorporated global perspectives. They really responded well to the discussions and it made lessons more fun, interesting, relatable, and current" (December 14, 2012).

Many teacher candidates were creative in finding ways to incorporate global citizenship education into lesson plans. They were also impressed by students' creativity in their work and through their questions. Paula, who taught a Grade 2 class, commented that her use of global perspectives was successful because such teaching enabled young learners:

… to realize that the world is not as strange as the children think that it is. My students were able to identify more similarities within these different cultures than they were able to identify differences. They learned some new words that were in different languages and enjoyed every moment of learning about the different ways in which people celebrate around the world. (personal communication, December 14, 2011)

Teacher candidates of high-school math and science subjects reported more challenges in integrating GCE. But the perspectives they gained from taking the GCE course enabled them to imagine creative activities by infusing GCE. Tony commented in his teaching reflection:

I found it particularly challenging to implement global citizenship practices into my math class. For the entirety of my practicum my students were basically learning the rudimentary mechanics of algebra. Following this unit, my students will eventually be learning how to graph and determine linear equations, and this new section would provide a greater opportunity for the teacher to highlight aspects of global citizenship. Students could examine relevant world statistics (poverty levels, immigration levels, etc.) and graph this data. Potentially the teacher could also give students a completed graph (perhaps one that shows the change in water consumption over the last 20 to 30 years) and ask students to interpret and reflect upon the data (e.g., Would they expect these levels to be different between Canada and India?). (personal communication, December 14, 2011)

School subjects, such as mathematics and science, have crucial roles in global citizenship education because they develop students' abilities in identifying/posing problems and in the development of informed, active and critical citizens in a society whose structures are largely mathematical. However, teacher candidates who majored in these subjects had not developed this perspective on mathematic and scientific education through their previous learning experiences. Tony's reflections indicated that the connection between GCE objectives and mathematic/science learning needs to be more explicit in both the teacher education program and school curriculum. GCE is indeed an opportunity for a beginning teacher to practise transformative teaching and learning with imagination.

A small number of teacher candidates reported that they had very limited or no opportunity to implement GCE because of the lack of flexibility in creating new lessons or the constrained time structure of the practicum. Alice explained her situation:

For the past four weeks I have been in a resource placement, where I did not have the ability to choose materials. There were very specific objectives that were put in place by the resource teacher that I had to follow. (group conversation, May 8, 2012)

All teacher candidates confirmed the importance of integrating GCE into educational practices after observing how student engagement and interest was greatly increased because of the use of global perspectives. Anna, like many teacher candidates, summarized in her reflection:

I strongly believe that global citizenship education has an extremely important place in the classroom. Even if teachers tried to integrate it into at least one lesson out of every unit they taught, that would be a huge step in the right direction. I, for one, am definitely going to be a lot more conscious about the integration of global citizenship in my classroom after having taken this course. It really opened my eyes to how important it is to teach kids things like this, seeing as not all of them will learn it outside of school. I think it is very important to do lots of work where the students are taking action, instead of just learning it second-hand. (personal communication, December 15, 2011)

Reflection on professional development for teacher educators

The promotion of "Global Citizenship" (GC) has emerged as a goal of schooling in many countries (Oxley & Morris, 2013); however, preparing teachers to educate for global citizenship is still a new idea faced by teacher educators and teacher preparation programs in Canada and abroad. Both teacher educators and teacher candidates need the opportunities to learn how to set lesson goals and objectives and choose appropriate curriculum content and pedagogical approaches to promote global citizenship education.

As a teacher educator whose previous teaching and research did not focus on global citizenship education, leading the integration of global citizenship education into a teacher preparation program was a new learning experience for me. Situated in a program/institution with limited professional development opportunities and resources on global citizenship research and education, I gained great professional benefits from working side-by-side with UNICEF's global classroom management team on developing Educating for Global Citizenship along with the course's resource package. While sharing my expertise in curriculum development, teacher education, and university teaching, I have greatly enhanced my philosophical understanding and pedagogical skills in introducing GCE into the teacher education program. Over the three-year period of curriculum development and pilot delivery of the course, we had regular face-to-face and online meetings on developing the content and resources. We also co-taught the two pilot courses for both pre-service and in-service teachers to improve the course content, pedagogy, and assessment. The collaboration between UPEI's teacher preparation program and the non-governmental organization UNICEF Canada demonstrated an alternative professional development approach for teacher educators to effectively engage in preparing teachers for global citizenship education. Indeed, we showed that if we are determined to develop teachers' capacities in bringing global perspectives to education, then it is very necessary for educational stakeholders to work and learn together to integrate global citizenship education into the curriculum, regardless of their previous educational and research backgrounds.

Concluding Remarks

Teacher candidates in this study have observed and experienced tremendous positive changes when global citizenship education is integrated in their educational practices. These changes are manifested through learners' increased engagement and interest in learning, broadened perspectives and global awareness, enhanced critical thinking and problem-solving skills, greater awareness and respect for diversity, and more commitment to sustainable actions as citizens of the local and global societies. In meeting the needs of 21st-century learners, these future teachers are enthusiastic about becoming globally competent educators who can help their students become responsible global citizens. Therefore, it is not only desirable but also critical that all teacher education programs infuse global perspectives and strategies, and develop teachers' professional competencies to educate for global citizenship as a way to achieve transformative learning in various educational settings.

In preparing teachers to educate for global citizenship, there is still much work to be done, including indentifying a systematic approach, locating the appropriate analytical and curriculum framework, developing more relevant policy and resources, increasing professional development opportunities for teacher educators, and creating more space to bring global dimensions and perspectives into teaching and learning. Such work requires teacher educators and teacher preparation programs to engage in critical examination and conversations on the complexities and possibilities global citizenship education has brought to teachers and learners, alike. The author of this article sincerely hopes to use this paper to stimulate such critical dialogues with colleagues and educators in order to envision and act upon preparing teachers to educate for global citizenship in the 21st century.


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