An investigation of global citizenship education in one geography course: The students’ perspective
Massey, Kyle Donald
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Global citizenship education is becoming increasingly appreciated in Ontario as an important component of formal schooling. Although all disciplinary areas have a role to play in global citizenship education, geography, which is primarily concerned with the study of people, places, and environments at home and around the world, provides an especially important context in which to foster the values and attitudes often cited as important for global citizenship. The purpose of this qualitative study is to describe how seven secondary students in the province of Ontario make meaning of global citizenship through geography education. More specifically, this study investigates the way that Grade 12 students, who had recently completed the course titled, “Canadian and World Issues: A Geographic Analysis”, conceive of the concept of global citizenship, value its importance, and experienced its values within this course. Qualitative data was collected through an analysis of the course curriculum and though interviews with seven students. The interviews revealed four themes that were most apparent in how the students conceptualized global citizenship: global awareness, belonging, caring, and commitment to action. It was revealed that the students’ personal involvement with the issues being studied helped them learn to be global citizens, as did the rich discussions of global issues they experienced in class. Careful analysis of both the students’ conceptions of global citizenship and how they experienced global citizenship in the curriculum revealed an uncritical perspective – one which emphasizes acts of charity and volunteerism rather than a commitment to social justice. In examining the participants’ perceptions of the value of global citizenship education as part of the curriculum, it was clear participants felt this was an important feature of geography education. In fact, since their perception was that they experienced global citizenship in this course exclusively, they attributed great value to the course and to geography education more generally. Overall, the findings are valuable to both teachers and teacher candidates seeking to better engage their students in global issues and equip them with global thinking strategies, and to curriculum developers wishing to effectively incorporate issues and topics concerning global citizenship within school curricula.