UNESCO’s report on delivering global citizenship education, Global Citizenship Education: Topics and Learning Objectives, is aimed at anyone who wants to promote the idea of global learning. The report sets out a series of nine topics to explore GCE in the classroom. It identifies learning objectives and themes for teachers to explore with students, and for policy makers to incorporate into the curriculum (if they’re so inclined). The report provides international case studies of good practice to provide some inspiration. You can find it all here.
But what has GCE to do with environmental education? Well, perhaps its three sets of learning outcomes hold a clue. These envisage that students should …
- acquire knowledge and understanding of local, national and global issues and the interconnectedness and interdependency of different countries and populations
- develop skills for critical thinking and analysis
- experience a sense of belonging to a common humanity, sharing values and responsibilities, based on human rights
- develop attitudes of empathy, solidarity and respect for differences and diversity
- act effectively and responsibly at local, national and global levels for a more peaceful and sustainable world
- develop motivation and willingness to take necessary actions
Not much there, it would seem. But in what the report says about aims, there are more glimpses. Unesco says that GCE aims to enable students to:
- develop an understanding of global governance structures, rights and responsibilities, global issues and connections between global, national and local systems and processes;
- recognise and appreciate difference and multiple identities, e.g. culture, language, religion, gender and our common humanity, and develop skills for living in an increasingly diverse world;
- develop and apply critical skills for civic literacy, e.g. critical inquiry, information technology, media literacy, critical thinking, decision-making, problem solving, negotiation, peace building and personal and social responsibility;
- recognise and examine beliefs and values and how they influence political and social decision-making, perceptions about social justice and civic engagement;
- develop attitudes of care and empathy for others and the environment and respect for diversity;
- develop values of fairness and social justice, and skills to critically analyse inequalities based on gender, socio-economic status, culture, religion, age and other issues;
- participate in, and contribute to, contemporary global issues at local, national and global levels as informed, engaged, responsible and responsive global citizens.
The text highlighted above (it’s our emphasis) might be taken as Unesco’s nod towards environmental education, but it’s not a huge one. A visiting Martian reading this would get no inkling of the huge environmental problems the world faces, nor of the extent to which human justice / fairness / rights / culture / values / empathy / etc, entirely depend on the biosphere’s ability to support life.
One day, Unesco might think about bringing all this together into an holistic framework though it does not seem that this will be any time soon.