Building Wales of active global citizens

Building Wales of active global citizens

Susie Fentress Field outlines the importance of global citizenship for a thriving Welsh democracy, and argues that we need a roadmap for global citizenship education that goes beyond the school gates

One measure of progress on the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act is the number of active global citizens in Wales. But what is active global citizenship? How do people become global citizens? What would a Wales filled with active global citizens look like?

At the Welsh Center for International Affairs (WCIA), we have been delivering education for sustainable development and global citizenship (what we call global citizenship here) for decades in schools, but understanding what this means, outside formal education, is very difficult. Limited. Even in schools, where global citizenship is included in the Welsh curriculum, delivery of education is patchy due to gaps in teacher capacity, initial teacher training, professional learning and, in some cases, teachers’ lack of confidence in delivering content around some global citizenship topics.

In essence, the citizen – the global citizen – cares about what happens to their fellow citizens, wherever they are in the world, takes responsibility for the impact of their actions on the world, and takes an active role in making the world a safe place. A better place (or at least not worse).

If we are to achieve the goals of wellbeing, a sustainable Wales and a thriving democracy, we need to address the citizenship gap.

Why is active global citizenship important?

I was Building bridges: Welsh democracy – now, and for our future Highlights the deficit in democratic education. We might say that global citizenship is an essential part of democratic education, and vice versa.

We are intrinsically and inextricably linked to the rest of the world – people, cultures, languages ​​and ideas constantly cross borders. The big issues that affect us for good or ill – climate change, air pollution, biodiversity loss, costs of living, migration, conflict, new technology, population trends – are all global in nature, even though the manifestations of these issues are not equal in principle. . In terms of benefits and harms. The less wealthy and powerful feel the worst impacts of these global challenges (such as the effects of climate change) and benefit least from the positives (such as the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine).

The world has an impact on us, and we impact the rest of the world. These effects can be positive or negative. In essence, the citizen – the global citizen – cares about what happens to their fellow citizens, wherever they are in the world, takes responsibility for the impact of their actions on the world, and takes an active role in making the world a safe place. A better place (or at least not worse). If we have a Wales full of active global citizens, working together in communities, public bodies, businesses and public services, then the goal of being a globally responsible nation becomes possible.

What is a global citizen?

There are many definitions of global citizenship (including Indicator 4.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals) which we believe boil down to a few basic components:

  • Interest and curiosity: Do you care about what is happening in your community, your country and the wider world? Are you interested in learning how local, national and global dimensions are connected? A global citizen is curious about the world and thirsty for and open to different perspectives.
  • Knowledge and understanding: A basic understanding of how some of the world’s major systems work and how countries interact with each other. Key themes include sustainable development, peace and conflict, human rights, globalization, social justice, equality, power and governance.
  • skills: A global citizen can navigate a complex and uncertain world. This includes creativity, critical thinking, media literacy, self-awareness, collaboration, conflict resolution, negotiation, reflection, and empathy. They need skills that enable them to express their informed opinions and listen to the opinions of others.
  • Values ​​and attitudes: Global citizens care about what happens to people, and are committed to social justice, equality, and respect for human rights. Basically, they believe that people are capable of creating change.
  • Take responsibility and take action: Crucially, all citizenship, including global citizenship, is about taking responsibility for our actions. It’s not just about understanding the world or expressing an opinion. A global citizen’s actions are consistent with his or her knowledge, skills, and values. The way they vote, work, shop, travel, campaign, and participate in their community is rooted in their sense of citizenship.

Wales and global citizenship – where are we now?

There are excellent pockets of global citizenship delivery in Wales, especially in schools (with a degree Number of case studies examined here). However, the IWA Building bridges The report highlights the lack of teacher training pathways and specialist delivery in relation to democratic education; This extends to The broader global citizenship agenda. Outside of schools, delivery appears more patchy, with very limited understanding of what global citizenship manifests itself in many settings, such as adult education and workplace learning.

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In all contexts, the implementation of global citizenship interventions can be reductive: a global citizenship day on a specific theme, an elective module on sustainable development, a lesson on climate change. All of these interventions can be powerful, but they may miss many essential components that an active global citizen needs, including understanding the “big picture” of a problem (with climate change, for example, we must learn more about energy use but also its impact ). Industrial Revolution, colonialism, climate migration, food shortages) or supporting young people to address the complexities of the problem.

When people are supported to raise their voices, take individual or collective action on the things that matter to them, and understand how they can make a personal difference, it reduces anxiety.

This approach may entail risks, including that people simply learn a series of facts about the science of climate change, the impact of their cell phones on the environment, or the plight of refugees; It can cause significant anxiety, immobility, and helplessness. In one example, some pupils who had learned about the negative impact of mobile phones but had not learned the change-making skills needed to do something about it felt guilty and helpless.

In contrast, there is growing evidence that when people are supported to raise their voices, take individual or collective action on the things that matter to them, and understand how they can personally make a difference, it reduces anxiety. Therefore, including change-making skill sets in citizenship interventions is vital.

One participant in our Mock COP and Youth Climate Ambassadors program said: “I know that climate change can be really scary sometimes… However, being involved in real action with young people is inspiring and can alleviate climate anxiety.”

When people are interested in and passionate about an issue, but lack media literacy skills or curiosity, there is a danger that they will only be interested in information that supports their point of view. There are multiple examples of active citizens campaigning on the basis of false or misleading information.

The Secretary of Education’s commitment to “students as citizens and citizens as students” is laudable, but it must include the full recipe for citizenship – not just a couple of elements.

On the positive side, there is a real progressive agenda in Wales on global citizenship. In the Wales Curriculum, one of the four purposes is to support the development of “ethical and informed citizens of Wales and the world”. The components of global citizenship are embedded in areas of learning, experience, and progression. Global Citizenship is one of our national measures of success.

There is investment in pilot citizenship programs for adults and climate education for all ages. Scalable programs to support citizenship are already being introduced, from Democracy Fund materials and talking shops, to Change Makers and Peace Schools. One teacher who took pupils through the Peace Schools scheme said: “The children now understand how their voices can be heard, they have been involved in decision-making and have taken part in critical thinking and skills challenge groups,” while one Peace School teacher commented: “The Peace Ambassadors have helped create an atmosphere “”””””””

Wales therefore has the potential to lead the way and create a nation of active global citizens.

How can Wales become a nation of global citizenship?

There are some simple steps Wales can take to move towards becoming a nation of active global citizens which build on the recommendations set out in the IWA Recommendations Building bridges a report.

  • Participate in the creation of a global citizenship framework for lifelong learning for Wales in line with the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. The framework will serve as a guide for all educational settings and workplaces in developing their interventions.
  • Map existing resources and interventions in this area: identify what is already working and where there are gaps. This should include services available inside and outside schools. A number of organizations work with schools to develop and/or provide resources; A smaller number work in the post-16 sector, but across the board there needs to be more coordination and assessment of the barriers teachers face in using these resources.
  • Pilot interventions where gaps exist, particularly in post-16 education and workplace learning. For example, Public Health Wales has piloted global citizenship modules for NHS staff in Wales
  • High-end successful interventions.

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