Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education, Vol 5, No 1 (2016)

Global Citizenship in Canadian Universities: A New Framework

Melanie Rathburn, Roberta Lexier


The value and importance of global learning is widely promoted and debated in the literature but, without a common language to frame this discussion, we cannot accurately assess its effectiveness or value. One term frequently used in these conversations, and extolled by universities, is the idea of global citizenship; however, there is no consistent definition of this concept. In this article, we describe the philosophical traditions surrounding the term global citizenship and explain the roots of the debate over its use. To further understand how this term is used among institutions of higher education, we investigated how select Canadian universities discuss global citizenship and identified some of the key terms used as proxies for global citizenship. By bringing together the existing academic literature, the available statistics, and a survey of mandates and practices across Canadian universities, we have developed a framework that defines a global citizen in a Canadian context. This shared framework that universities can adapt and modify to meet their own institutional needs is necessary to enhance their ability to develop the next generation of global citizens. A consistent language and vision will better shape the experiences students have, ensure the evaluation of university programs is both possible and effective, and creates common goals that can be shared among industry, government, and universities.


Global Citizenship; Universities; Framework

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