Think Global celebrated our 30th birthday in 2013. We’ve changed greatly over the years. We began life in the 1980s as a national network for local Development Education Centres. During the 1990s we became the Development Education Association, when we included within our coalition the major development charities including Oxfam, ActionAid, Save the Children, Christian Aid and CAFOD, as well as other organisations such as businesses, trade unions, schools and universities. In the 2000s, when we changed our name to Think Global, we expanded our network further to include individual educators – now numbering 12,000.
The history of ‘global learning’ – using education to equip people with the skills and capabilities they need to help make the world a more just and sustainable place – stretches back even further, to the 1970s. It was then usually known as ‘development education’ (a term still used today). It grew in influence as charities realised that raising money to fund development projects in ‘under-developed’ countries didn’t tackle the underlying causes of poverty. What was also needed was a greater understanding of the causes of under-development and global poverty – so that people were equipped to take action. In 1978, the then government’s Ministry for Overseas Development published a paper which for the first time acknowledged the need for development education and defined it as, “…those processes of thought and action which increase understanding of world-wide social, economic and political conditions, particularly those which relate to, and are responsible for, under-development. Its purpose is to encourage widespread involvement in action for improvement.” Government support has continued to a greater or lesser extent ever since – including the current government-funded Global Learning Programme, aimed at engaging thousands of schools across the UK.