Asian Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The Asian Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (AJSoTL) is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online journal. AJSoTL seeks to create and nurture a global network of academics and educators who will discuss ongoing changes and future trends in tertiary education.


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Global citizenship/global education

‘Global citizenship’ and ‘global education’ are two terms that get tossed around a lot these days.


  • But what exactly do they mean?
  • Do they simply refer to the increased diversity of the student and staff population in our universities, or to our efforts to provide students with international exposure by studying and working overseas?
  • Is travel good for student development, or is that just ‘academic tourism’?
  • How do we provide a truly enriching global education - and with what kind of global attributes do we want to imbue our students? 


It seems clear that as educators and administrators, we have an important role to play in helping to maximize diversity on our own campus, and more importantly, to build on the richness and strengths that diversity brings through a constructive engagement with difference.

4 Replies


Aug 30, 2013

When I read or hear about internationalisation and global citizenship, I tend to take a pragmatic point of view. I am a member of the Centre for Educational Development at the K.U.Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium). The promotion of quality development in curricula and courses is an important scope of action for us. We work together with vice-deans for education, program directors, teachers and educational developers at the level of the Faculty as well as at the central university level. The advocacy of quality development also entails giving ‘internationalisation’ and ‘global citizenship’ a place within curricula and supporting teachers to realise corresponding intercultural competencies (as formulated as learning outcomes in the curriculum).

I believe that ‘internationalisation’ and competencies related to ‘global citizenship’ can only be realised if different kinds of actions are undertaken at different levels and adjusted to specific contexts.

The purpose of universities is, amongst others, to educate (young) people and make them valuable for society as a whole and for the labour market. The question I’d like programs, teachers (and university as a whole) to ask themselves is ‘what competencies do we want our students to achieve?’. What competencies will they need to be part of an international, multicultural society? I felt comfortable with the accents made by O’ Brien in the article ‘Global citizenship and the Stanford Cross-cultural rhetoric project.’ (Journal of the NUS Teaching Academy, 1(1), 32-43), eg. ‘…render students competitive in the international economy, while also instilling awareness and empathy for other countries, cultures and issues of common concern across the planet’ (Schattle, 2009). I believe that the translation of this view on global citizenship in competencies (and learning outcomes) that are recognisable in the curriculum can certainly have an added value for programs.

In Belgium, the Erasmus-programme is a very popular ‘scaffold’ (by means of scholarships) for sending students to foreign countries for about 3 months, thereby offering students the possibility to become sensitive to culturally diverse contexts and to become more self-aware concerning their own cultural background. However, I believe that a foreign exchange programme should not only focus on the acquisition of intercultural competencies. Also very particular discipline-specific competencies should be aquired during the exchange, in order to restrict ‘academic tourism’. By stimulating programs to search for complementarity in the curricula of the partner universities. We want to make sure the learning experience of students abroad is atuned to their curriculum ‘at home’. Students take courses in discipline subjects that they can’t take in Belgium, because the expertise isn’t available here. In this way, students do not only acquire intercultural competencies, but also discipline-specific competencies.

There are many ways to aqcuire intercultural competencies. I was inspired by the CCR-project in the article of O’Brien. I think this is a beautiful example of what internationalisation@home can imply. Not every student has the opportunity to go abroad. The students who stay in their home country should also have the opportunity to acquire intercultural competencies. Therefore programs should search for ways to connect students from different countries and create meaningful learning experiences: using ICT and multimedia to realise real-time contact between students from different countries, making use of international students present at the K.U.Leuven, introducing guest lecturers and researchers from abroad,… This should, as SAKHET states, not be confined to one or two courses. These interactions should be build in throughout their academic careers in order for students to become truly global citizens.


Aug 30, 2013

It is not about how many nationalities are represented in the faculty and in the student population; it is not even about how many language/culture related courses a University offers. It is also not about how many MOU's and student exchanges a university has. These are easy to achieve. True global education happens when education can transform the inner beliefs of individuals and help them overcome the prejudices they carry - seeing oneself as part of the global whole and seeing the world inside himself/herself will announce that a personal is globally educated.

Does present education develop empathy, respect for others beliefs, ideas and ways of doing things? The present education was developed for the industrial age and has served well. We have generated wealth but also inherited problems (global and local, big and small) through it. Perhaps time to swing the pendulum back and shift the focus from changing the world around us and making it a better place to changing ourselves and making the world an even better place. The ethics and moral values that Chuen and Dujeepa mention are along this line.

Can we bring about such "inner engineering" in the University? With the frentic pace and the crowded academic space, I doubt it. But it would not be a bad thing to try. Many faculty working in universities think that finding a drug for cancer or developing the next wonder material that traps an extra 0.2% of solar energy are the only biggest and worthy challenges to be pursued in academia. They perhaps are. Changing the deep rooted knowledge gaps and beliefs that exist in individuals (students and faculty) is an equally challenging problem (if not bigger). Try it and you can see how difficult that can be. Education is as serious matter as research is.

True global education can perhaps happen in universities if faculty and students interact in groups for extended time periods like a scientist works with his/her team passionately for several years to discover a medical cure for some disease. These groups must talk about many things (and not only about morals/ethics/professionalism alone) but try to make sense of what is discussed in a global and multifaceted context. Without being confined to one or two courses, these interactions must occur throughout the university years. And, with the student exchange programmes, the students may have taken a few steps towards becoming globally educated.


Aug 30, 2013

I agree with Dujeepa. Too often, students are concerned with getting a certificate - rather than getting an education. Even when they go overseas for an exchange programme - it is not so much personal development as tourism that drives this. That being said, there are many dedicated students, who are truly desirous of knowledge - but I fear that too many emerge from universities possessed of discipline-specific knowledge, but are ignorant of literature, current affairs and even general knowledge!

I met a university graduate who thought that Omaha and Ohio were in Japan, simply because the names sounded Japanese - and if not for Harry Potter and Percy Jackson movies - most would never have heard of Cerberus or Charon - whereas these things would have been known to any kid in the old days - who would have read encyclopaedias for fun.

I think it is difficult - in this age when there is so much "core knowledge" that we need to accrue in order to be good in our disciplines - to develop skills/learn things outside of the syllabus - but we need to emphasise the need to keep on learning. The global economic crisis has certainly taught us the value of soft skills in education - if the bankers were schooled in ethics/professionalism and moral values - i doubt that we would be in the state we are in now.

Ditto the need for us to be responsible - and realise the global impact of our un-green ways.


Aug 30, 2013

I feel that 'Global citizenship' goes beyond the diversity in the campus or international exposure /work experience of our students/academics. Creating the right set of values, behaviours in our students which would foster their creativity, tolerance and work towards ensuring peace worldwide encompass 'Global citizenship' holistically. How we support this through education is 'global education'! I would like to quote from Wikipedia :) " this century children and students are meant to become "global citizens" through their education. This is possible through an integration of the "scientific and technical skills" as well as the "traditional academic disciplines"."

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