Working Group 9: Global Citizenship in Development and Education

Sanna Rekola, Global Education Adviser of Fingo ry; and Jaana Viirimäki.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) of the United Nations and goal 4.7 explicitly demand that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

Solutions and problems are not located in one or the other part of the world but need to be recognized and confronted jointly. As an important tool, Agenda 2030 stresses education and explicitly mentions the need for a Global Citizenship Education (GCE): Target 4.7. requires that all learners are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to make the transition to a peaceful and sustainable global community by 2030.

What are the competences of global citizens and how could they be strengthened? How can we connect systemic thinking, understanding of complexity and global interconnectedness to transformative action? How can we engage people of all ages and support their agency in building of sustainable future? Who is responsible for global citizenship education and how it should be implemented in formal, non-formal and informal education?

The aim of this workshop is to reflect critically the concept of global citizenship education. We invite actors and researchers to come together in fruitful dialogue on the role of global citizenship education in sustainable development. We believe that partnership between civil society organizations, educators, teachers and academia is vital in achieving the change we need. How could we benefit from the work of each other and jointly promote global justice and transformative learning? How can we connect systemic thinking, understanding of complexity and global interconnectedness to transformative action?

We welcome presentations, papers and other forms of contributions from researchers, educators, civil society actors etc. who are interested in these topics.


1. Education for Global Citizenship in the Millenium Organisation: International Initiative for Peace (IIP) – NGO. Adejare Somorin.

This paper examines the role of higher education in developing global citizens. By internationalizing the curriculum and the campus culture, institutions of higher education are uniquely positioned to positively affect the world. Increasing knowledge and understanding of differences enables people to work more effectively together to solve the world’s pressing problems.

To promote a global perspective and to ultimately become a transformative experience for students, both curriculum content and pedagogy need to be examined and revised. Other ways that help build global awareness include service learning, study abroad programs, faculty and student exchanges, advocacy actions, the display of global symbols and diversity awareness initiatives. Global citizenship advances human potential and prosperity through the creation of peace and social justice worldwide.

2. Global Citizenship Education and Social Sustainability of Informal Settlements: A Case Study of Mukuru Kayaba Informal Settlements, Nairobi, Kenya. Ruth N. Murumba, Moi University, Kenya. 

Traditionally, citizenship has been conceptualized as how citizens live and act in given national spaces based on established rights and responsibilities. In Kenya, it has been bounded mainly by political meanings where the individual was viewed as a political actor. Their main task has been viewed as taking part in the electoral process and endorsing the transactional relationship between the rulers and the ruled. With the promulgation of the new Constitution in August 2010, there has been a visible shift. The incorporation of social, economic and cultural rights have offered greater opportunities and leverage to improve the lives of communities. These rights as articulated in the Bill of Rights, laid the foundation for individuals and communities to agitate for change that best addressed their local needs. The recognition of the rights and needs of marginalized communities, such as those living in informal settlements, also created a fresh opportunity for the discussion, participation and implementation of formalized spaces for citizenship participation. These new constitutional provisions also served as notice of the entry of the nation into the debate of global citizenship education. However, the concept of citizen engagement in global citizenship education is affected by vestiges of the past. These arise in the form of the marginalization due to colonization which are further embedded by the elitist structures of the past colonial systems of governance. Engaging citizens of all ages by supporting their agency for social sustainability of their communities requires learning from the global, regional, national and local scenarios. The aim of this paper is to attempt to investigate how utilizing global citizenship education can solidify social sustainability of informal settlements in urban areas in Kenya. This is especially crucial in developing countries as they grapple with burgeoning urban populations that find their way into new slum settlements. Using the informal settlement of Mukuru, Nairobi as a case study, this paper will

attempt to address the main question: How can global citizenship education serve as a tool to harness global knowledge for the social sustainability of informal settlement communities?

Key Words: Global Citizenship Education; Kenya; Informal Settlements; Globalisation

3. Bridging 4.7 through HEADSUP: Actioning critical global citizenship with secondary teachers in England, Finland and Sweden. Karen Pashby, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK and Loise Sund, Maladarlen University, Sweden.

How can a research project with secondary teachers in England, Finland and Sweden shed light on the possibilities and tensions of enacting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? This paper reports on findings from a one-year research project aimed at investigating an ethical approach to teaching about global issues in secondary classrooms. The shift from the Millennium Development Goals to the SDGs includes a significant move from actions directed towards so-called ‘developing’ countries to actions required in all signatory nations. This shift recognizes the important ways that people all over the world, including in the Global North, are both part of the problems and the solutions for a better life for all. Target 4.7 requires all learners receive quality education in the areas of education for sustainable development (ESD) and global citizenship (GCE). However, the fields have tended to operate in parallel. The project brings together the fields of global citizenship education (GCE) and environmental and sustainability education (ESE) to mobilise concerns raised about extant approaches to teaching global issues into pedagogical application. ESE scholars argue that currently mainstreamed approaches implicitly reinforce existing North–South inequities and support individualism and competition (Sund & Öhman, 2014). Similarly, critical GCE scholars find that approaches to global education avoid complex ethical issues thereby contributing to the reproduction of colonial systems of power (Pashby, 2012). In winter/spring 2018, we shared Andreotti’s (2012) HEADSUP tool with upper/secondary teachers (n= 26) in a workshop (held in Helsinki, Stockholm, Manchester, Birmingham, and London respectably). HEADSUP identifies seven historical patterns of thinking reproduced by educational initiatives: hegemony, ethnocentrism, ahistoricism, depoliticisation, salvationism, uncomplicated solutions and paternalism. Data sources include surveys asking about enabling factors and barriers to taking up ethical global issues in classrooms, transcripts of group discussions about HEADSUP from the workshops, transcripts of classroom visits and interviews with teachers reflecting on their use of the tool in their classroom, and written texts produced by teacher participants and students in classrooms. In this paper we will share findings relating to the ways teachers are engaging critically with notions of development in their approach to teaching global issues.

4. Political engagement for global citizenship. Raising research interest among Austrian high school students. Gabriele Slezak, Austrian Foundation for Development Research OEFSE.

Since 2015, all Austrian high school and VET-college students mandatorily have to design and implement a research project and write a final research paper. OEFSE, in cooperation with other partners1, has built up a project supporting students who deal with both conceptual and applied issues of sustainable development, with a particular thematic focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Support measures include lectures, workshops, individual coaching, information materials, and a competition for innovative research papers. The goal is to build capacity for innovative and critical research on sustainable development among the students as well as to draw their attention on epistemic differences and existing power relations, arising from the colonial past. Results show the potential for transformative processes of knowledge production and political engagement. This allows for a sophisticated understanding of what Global Citizenship Education (GCE) could mean in contexts where minorities who are “…marginalized by prevalent schooling systems, need new learning decolonizations that endow their possibilities vis-à-vis dominant members of their societies” (Abdi et al. 2015: 2) Young Citizen Science is about involving young people into research activities, inviting them to become co-researchers, to get into contact with scientists from academia participating in joint knowledge production (Pettibone et al. 2016). We argue, that such research processes bear a potential to create a participatory citizenship education space that enables high school students for critical reflection and for developing political demands as well as strategies for their enactment. Preliminary results show the importance of involving groups such as students with migratory experiences and the specific challenge to reach them, as they are disadvantaged by the Austrian high school system.


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Global Citizen Education, high school students, transformative research, civic engagement


Abdi, A., Shultz, L. and Pillay, T. (eds.). 2015. Decolonizing Global Citizenship Education. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam.

Pettibone, L., Vohland, K. and Ziegler, D. 2017. Understanding the (inter)disciplinary and institutional diversity of citizen science: A survey of current practice in Germany and Austria. PLoS ONE 12(6): e0178778.

5. Case study: Transformer 2030 – Teachers as Change Agents in Sustainable Development. Fruitful Cooperation between CSOs and Researchers in In-service Training of Finnish Teachers. Hannu Niemelä (Fingo) et al.

Transformer 2030 – Teachers as Change Agents in Sustainable Development project (2018-2019) builds the capacity of teachers and educators from all levels (from early childhood education to adult education) to enhance sustainable development and global citizenship. The project is coordinated by Fingo and funded by Finnish National Agency for Education. By this case we want to raise discussion on cooperation opportunities of researchers and practitioners.

The project brings together actors from civil society and academia. Combining theory with practical tools and methods we can respond to an urgent need of teachers and educators to use the potential of education to be a driving, transformative force in sustainable development.

The project offers teachers and educators both knowledge and pedagogical competences to deal with wicked problems and systemic challenges that we face in achieving SDGs and helps them to advance global competences of learners of all ages.

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