This current special issue has been reviewed in large part by members of the Oxford Brookes University Centre for Curriculum Internationalisation. This is a research group committed to research, cross-institutional dialogue and policy change within four key areas of: internationalising the curriculum for all; critical clarification and problematisation of the complex concepts of internationalisation and global citizenship; the embedding of responsible and ethical engagement with social and environmental issues in the graduate attribute of global citizenship; and developing a research community that shares and develops good practice.
At Oxford Brookes University the dispositions and qualities that delineate the graduate attribute of global citizenship are defined in our Strategy for Enhancing the Student Experience as: Knowledge and skills, showing cross-cultural awareness, and valuing human diversity. The ability to work effectively, and responsibly, in a global context. From this perspective, the formation of global citizens requires us as educators to rethink traditional understandings of disciplinary knowledge as substance, and reflect upon how disciplinary ways of knowing are embedded in sets of practices. In addition to this challenge to our established procedures we need also to acknowledge the contested context of ‘the global’ and ‘the citizen’ of which a multiplicity of readings are possible. And the contested contexts in which those interpretations are made in the early 21st century include the shifting, changing spaces of work, of education, and of local communities.
How then can we conceptualise the process of teaching for global citizenship formation in such a way as to remain true to our global citizen principles of self-responsibility for successful action in ethical personal and social lives, and for engagement with environmental concerns? On the one hand, it cannot include pre-set standards since this would make a mockery of its complex articulation with contested, changing contexts. On the other, if the injunction to engage with the challenge to form global citizens is not to be stonewalled by already over-burdened and time-strapped educators, but instead to be developed and made sustainable over time, some form of curriculum framework that can form the basis of individual translations into practice must be established. More simply, where there is hope and a will there is a way.
The articles in this edition of BeJLT include a wide-ranging set of perspectives on the project of developing the curriculum to form global citizens in higher education institutions. Agnes Meerwald explores the fine-tuning of intercultural pedagogies in the context of Australian higher education around the theme of competence. Meerwald’s research draws on the theoretical frameworks of cultural theory to make a strong case that if students are to be competent for a global context, a fluid notion of culture and cultural identity is essential. She uses the notions of shared liminal spaces and self-reflection to offer a nuanced and sophisticated conception of intercultural learning, and demonstrates how such pedagogies can lead to students’ deeper understanding of themselves as ongoing intersubjective projects of global citizens. An obstacle to the development of such pedagogies can be institutional culture and structures.
Overcoming respective misconstruals of the two agendas of internationalisation and employability through dialogue is both the theme and opening format of David Killick and Laura Dean’s paper. Their dialogue shows the potential richness of openness to difference as a practical and ethical way forward to constructive approaches to embedding internationalisation in the curriculum in a sustainable manner. It also offers readers a stimulating combination of viewpoints and shines light on our critical understanding of both agendas. Killick and Dean then offer management and educators highly practical and useful examples of how to rearticulate existing learning outcomes to align with the practices and contexts of teaching for global citizenship formation.
Martin Haigh addresses an issue that is central to the identity of a global citizen, namely teaching and learning as sites of ethical development. Taking the concrete example of a tree planting exercise in a module called “The Ethical Geographer”, Haigh shows the potential usefulness of hands-on exercises in helping learners uncover a sense of personal ethical responsibility towards the lives of other living organisms. This practical exercise leads into later work in which learners are invited to reflect upon the meaning of this exercise from multiple objective and subjective perspectives. The capacity to map an event from different perspectives is seen as a useful life and employment skill.
Constanze Spreer and Dan Groves bring a welcome student perspective to this issue. From their ethnographic style research conducted on a module in Intercultural Communication, they produced posters on the ways students draw on their cultural identity resources when interacting with fellow undergraduates to form new global citizen identities in a university context. These posters were presented at an HEA funded seminar on Teaching Global Citizenship held at Oxford Brookes in May 2012.
To honour past and current practice in the field of developing the graduate attribute of global citizenship, Louise Green provides an inventory of tools for developing the graduate attribute at OBU generated at a workshop conducted during the Brookes’ Learning and Teaching Conference 2012.
All of the contributions to this issue, then, demonstrate that there is ongoing interrogation of what constitutes good practice in education for global citizenship. This serves both to project this strand of internationalisation strategies reflexively into the future, and also to give coherence and rigour to its validity as a new way of knowing within disciplinary practices.
Senior Lecturer in Communication, Media and Culture
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Chair of Centre for Curriculum Internationalisation, Oxford Brookes University