How can educators help students become global citizens?

By | 2017-09-04T08:11:15+00:00 August 25th, 2017|For teachers|0 Comments

Throughout the ages, people have always banded together, forming communities based on commonalities, such as geographical, social, economic, political and religious identities. With the advent of global transportation, technological advances in communication and the availability of connected devices, human beings are more linked on a global scale than ever before.

Because of this new influx of information and the ability to impact others’ lives, our previously boundaried sense of community becomes larger. We develop empathy, a sense of responsibility and connectedness, and camaraderie from the worldwide society that we have become a part of.

What is global citizenship?

Global citizenship is described as the rights and responsibilities that come with being a member of a global community, and whose actions support this community’s purpose and values. These rights, responsibilities and values are consistent with the concept of “humanity”; being benevolence, compassion, mercy, as well as the thirst for knowledge and the willingness to help others.

Global citizenship in education helps students to gain essential skills and personality traits that effectively interact with the rest of the world, and likelihood to try to make it a better place. The United World Schools Organization defines global citizens as students (and educators) who:

  • are aware of the wider world,
  • have a sense of their role as a world citizen,
  • respect and value diversity,
  • want to tackle social justice,
  • believe that all children and young people have a right to an education
  • take action to make the world more equitable,
  • and live and promote a sustainable way of life.
Flamingos looking at the hovering country of Bolivia

“Welcome Bolivia!” was made by creator FlemingtonPS in Canada, at 13 years old. The creation was shared in the Welcome 41 gallery on Creatubbles. “Welcome 41 is a collaborative mural-making project designed to welcome and celebrate athletes, visitors and communities from the 41 nations participating in the Toronto 2015 Pan Am & Parapan Am Games.” You can see the rest of the amazing creations here:

How can educators help their students become global citizens?

Educators should consider global citizenship a mindset, not an extra part for the curriculum to be visited once or twice throughout the school year. Global citizenship can be taught and encouraged alongside the normal curriculum by integrating diversity, sustainability and human rights topics in lessons. For example, science students learning about different forms of energy might discuss wind, solar or hydal versus hydrogen energy and the effects the respective plants have on the environment. Teachers can also assign students to create models, presentations or experiments that cater to the sustainable energy topic.

Author and educator Viki Davis states, “…the best way to engage the classroom in a global conversation is to help the conversations become part of the classroom.” To become global citizens, students must continuously be involved in global conversation, learn through experiences and gain the ability to act on their empathy and knowledge. Accordingly, teachers must be ready to to answer tough questions, be fully aware of current events, facilitate classroom discussions and collaborate with schools in various countries.

3 tips to teaching global citizenship

Since there is no prescribed way to help your students achieve global citizenship, educators should know what is relatable to their students and be creative when planning discussions and activities. For example, psychology students in lower income and/or urban areas might focus on localized community projects. Whereas, biology students living on coastlines might gravitate towards worldwide ocean cleanup campaigns. Teachers can also give students the opportunity to share topics that they are drawn to. Here are 3 important tips to help educators teach global citizenship:

1. Use technology to connect your students with the rest of the world

One of the best ways for your students understand what’s going on in the world, as well as collaborate with students and organizations abroad, is to become digitally connected. The Internet offers a wide range of news sources and commentaries, many of which are suitable for students of all ages. Teachers can use apps, such as Skype, Google Hangouts, or social media to have conversations with other classes or global participants.

Additionally, students involved in human rights activities should inspire the rest of the world by simply sharing what they are doing. On Creatubbles, students can upload and share these projects, invite others to join in and connect with collaborators from all around the world. Students can also use the platform to discover and be inspired by activities and creations that students abroad are sharing.

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2. Use human rights issues as a platform for discussion

Students of all ages, socio-economic backgrounds or geographic locations can find human rights relatable on some scale. This is a great starting point to spark discussion and awareness.

In 2105, the UN established the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. If the Goals are met, extreme poverty, inequality and climate change could end by 2030. Educator Mareike Hachemer is on a mission to connect education and the Global Goals. Teachers can also use the Goals as a basis for students to start becoming global citizens and involved in human rights projects.

A heart-shaped world with people holding hands inside

“Human rights #10” was made by creator ChayaY in Canada, at 11 years old. This creation was uploaded to the A10 – Right to live in the same country as your parents gallery on Creatubbles. This gallery features creations that focus on this basic human right: “Families whose members live in different countries should be allowed to move between those countries so that parents and children can stay in contact, or get back together as a family. See all Pembina Trails’ Human Rights Project galleries at”

3. Use a learn-think-act process to encourage global citizenship in & out of the classroom

Oxfam’s learn-think-act philosophy is a great way for teachers to introduce global citizenship to their students:

Learn: “Exploring the issue, considering it from different viewpoints and trying to understand the causes and consequences.”

Think: “Considering critically what can be done about the issue, and relating this to values and worldview and trying to understand the nature of power and action.”

Act: “Thinking about and taking action on the issue as an active global citizen, both individually and collectively.”

If routinely practiced, learn-think-act should come as second nature to your students — ultimately leading to a class of amazing, young global citizens.

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Tish Seabrook. Copywriter at Creatubbles. Writer and former university lecturer. Interests: edtech, STEAM, arts integration.