GlobalSense is a research project supported by the European Commission through the Erasmus+ Key Action 2 Programme Cooperation Partnerships in Higher Education (2021-2024). Our consortium gathers five universities and many Associated Partners. This research website aims at informing researchers, educational authorities, NGO’s, teachers and the wider public about the progress of our endeavour, which can be summarized as follows.
In many countries, the global pandemic outbreak has exacerbated political polarization, extremism, xenophobia, and the erosion of foundational democratic values. These issues cast special attention on the role of teachers in educating middle and high-school students for global citizenship; or at least making students aware of global issues in order to favour a globally-oriented kind of citizenship. Hence, within higher education, teacher educators have a significant role in presenting global citizenship topics to pre-service teachers while highlighting different and sometimes competing conceptions. Both curricular and pedagogical perspectives drive the question of how such a topic can be taught. In particular, teacher-trainers as well as teachers themselves face difficulties when raising controversial global issues such as refugee and anti-migration policies, minority-majority tensions, religion-science contradictions, etc. Tension around these issues may even lead to their avoidance altogether.
Further, such controversial issues differ significantly between countries since they depend on each nation’s history and context, its social particularities, and the social tensions that have formed over time. Therefore, preparing teachers to facilitate global citizenship education – and/or global education for citizenship – requires them to engage with socially and politically loaded subjects in a global context. Such training cannot be limited to the transmission of academic knowledge alone but should include the development of an awareness of and sensitivity to how they and others might act as citizens in a complex, interconnected world. This point of connection between global content and teaching methods is an area of research and practice that deserves further scrutiny.
Through the GlobalSense project, we address the above-mentioned issues by examining how online interactions between teacher candidates from France, Belgium, Germany, Israel, and the U.S.A. influence student-teachers’ perceptions of teaching citizenship. We initiate online global exchanges, sparking questions regarding the relationships between global and local aspects of citizenship education. The evaluation of these reflections facilitates an understanding of how student-teachers conceptualize diversity and international encounters. In brief, we assume that there is a need to have student-teachers engage hands-on with authentic global interactions by using what may be seen as a global type of pedagogy.