• Building bridges, connecting with the world: global citizenship education in post-secondary education

    Lynette Shultz and Ali A Abdi
    University of Alberta

    Research paper

    Themes: global citizenship

    Monday 1 September 2008, 15.45-16.45 in Bayley

    In 2006, the Building Bridges Global Citizenship Education project was established in response to both policy and practice in the area of global citizenship education at the University of Alberta, a Canadian post-secondary education institution with 37 000 undergraduate students. The paper is a presentation of the initial research from the project as it began to establish an interdisciplinary, and in many ways achieving a transdisciplinary, approach to educating for global citizenship. The conceptual frame for the research draws on Dower (2003) who theorizes global citizenship as based on a normative claim that we have a certain duty to all humans;  that all humans, without exception, are worthy of moral respect; and an existential claim that we are bound together with all other humans. Global citizenship as an ethical practice aims to expand inclusion and power, and provides the normative framework to make this a legitimate and far reaching project.  In addition, as a university wide project, the work of global citizenship education is seen to be what Frodeman & Mitchan (2007) describe as critical interdisciplinarity where theory and practice are linked to address questions of justice and human social development by extending, more than “across campus”, to a distinct interdisciplinary depth creating dialogic links with community social actors within the public and private realms. Beyond this, the Charter of Transdisciplinarity (1994) suggests ,that with transdisciplinarity, there emerges new data and new interactions that, rather than masking disciplinarity, achieves a measure of opening all disciplines to that which they share and most importantly, to that which lies beyond them.

    This paper presents the horizontal and vertical extensions of this critical interdisciplinary project of global citizenship education and examines the barriers and possibilities of building transdisciplinarity knowledge for both policy  and educational curriculum at the undergraduate program level. Research data was gathered from document analysis; interviews with faculty, students, and a range of university community members; and through a series of deliberative dialogues with faculty across the university as well as with students, interested community members with a particular attention to including those social actors who are most often excluded in the postsecondary institution. The research findings suggest educational possibilities that exist in deep critical transdisciplinary approaches to global citizenship education as a project of social justice and the undergraduate student learning experience that can result from these practices.