Our history

Where it all began…

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, who now form some of our members. 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. We are now a membership body with members comprising all of the above.

The history of ‘global learning’

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.


Achievements so far

Our achievements to date include:

  • Making major contributions to the Government’s International Strategy on education and Sustainable Development.
  • Working alongside government departments and politicians – including the Department for Education, Department for International Development, Department for Energy and Climate Change, and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
  • Chairing the schools group of the Make Poverty History campaign in 2005, engaging hundreds of schools across the country in the campaign and heightening the presence of the campaign’s educational element.
  • Setting up the Learning Africa website with resources and information targeted specifically at schools.
  • Contributing to the establishment of the TUC’s revitalised Global Learning Union Group, which brings together a range of trade unions who provide global learning for their members.
  • Lobbying to ensure that global learning (and development education) formed a key part of the Department for International Development’s groundbreaking Building Support for Development Strategy, launched in 1999.
  • Administering grants on behalf of DFID, to support global learning, providing over £2.5m in funding for over 120 projects across the country.
  • Lobbying for, and now run, the Global Dimension Website and have developed it into the UK’s premier global resource site for teachers.
  • In partnership with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, producing joint guidance on the global dimension in schools.
  • Running our Global Youth Action project which has directly engaged over 2000 young people, and indirectly engaged over 6000 young people, in global youth work.