In a fast changing, globalised world, education needs to help people understand the wider world around them and make the global connections between issues such as poverty or climate change and their own lives. It should prepare them to live and work in a global society and economy and engage them to make the world a better place.
Think Global defines global learning as education that puts learning in a global context, fostering:
This is a broad concept, and Think Global encourages educators to think about the global learning needs of their students, which will be different in different contexts.
There are eight overlapping concepts that are at the heart of global learning:
Educators will bring these out in different ways depending upon the context.
We know that people make decisions every day that affect whether the world is moving towards greater justice and sustainability. We also know that when people learn new knowledge and skills, it informs their decision-making. We believe that if we teach people about global issues, and give them the skills to think critically, their decisions, and subsequently actions, will be informed by this learning, therefore helping to create a just and sustainable world. Our Theory of Change reflects this understanding:
“The global element of the IB provided me with confidence to have a real belief in myself; to go out into the world and make a worthy difference, in whatever capacity I could offer. The IB made gave me the distinctive know-how, ability, and necessary tools to begin to be actively engaged in the fabulously diverse world of the 21st century.”
Which means: when people are taking action, their actions are likely to be informed by their learning, improving the chances of creating a just and sustainable world.
Research substantiates this idea, as well as showing that there is strong demand from teachers, business people, students and the general public, for global learning:
(Figures are taken from Think Global and independent research projects. See Think Global’s resources library.
“It may sound clichéd but we are the next generation and if the world is to be successful and we are to reduce poverty and injustice and deal with all the other issues around the world today, looking at the world from a wider perspective, not just what it can do for you, is one of the most vital things. I think that any child’s years of education will have an immeasurable effect on how they live their life.”
Think Global / Ipsos MORI evidence shows that global learning has a very real and positive impact on children. Discussing news stories from around the world led to a 35% increase in the number of young people agreeing that it was a good idea for people from different backgrounds to live together in the same country. Discussing what people can do to make the world a better place led to an increase of 48% in the number of young people who want to understand why there are problems in the world, and an increase of 64% in the number who understood that what they do in their daily lives affects people in other countries.
Many of our case studies are taken from Global Matters, a booklet highlighting examples of education for a just and sustainable world, published by Think Global in June 2008 and in 2009/10.