Today’s blog is the first in a series by Ben Murphy who is a member of the University of Glasgow team co-ordinating the Scottish contribution to the Walk the Global Walk programme. The team is led by Dr Ines Alves and Dr Ria Dunkley, along with the city of Glasgow council’s international education officer Lesley Atkins. As ever with our blogs, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of the Association.
The Walk the Global Walk (WtGW) project utilises Global citizenship education (GCE) to engage and mobilise young people to affect change through localising the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The project aims to create new educational models addressing issues associated with sustainable development. Key global issues relating to migration, climate change and gender equality, for example, are being engaged upon, and adapted, to fit into the formal education curriculum across the 11 participating countries (Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Scotland and Wales). The project began in 2018, mobilising young people as actors for sustainability, peace and justice, in response to the SDGs, through education for equity and justice.
Promoted by the Tuscany Region and Oxfam Italia, and co-funded by the European Union, the Walk the Global Walk project, connects local authorities, and regional/local communities (e.g., schools and NGOs) from across Europe. The primary aim of the project is to enhance European partnerships between local authorities and school communities by creating a common educational framework within formal education systems, that can support and promote awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals. The WtGW project aims to create spaces where young people can engage in issues related to global citizenship and sustainable development whilst promoting a culture of peace, respect for human rights and co-responsibility, on a global scale.
Now in its third year, the project is focusing on SDG 16: ‘peace, justice and strong institutions’. In Scotland teachers will be delivering the content designed for them by the project on a range of topics related to SDG 16. Despite this comprehensive education pack which gives detailed lesson outlines, teachers are also given flexibility to adapt the resources to fit in with their school’s curriculum. Here in Glasgow lessons will include local/global topics such as climate justice, just access to food, holocaust studies, institutional justice and refugee integration. In addition, external organisations have run online sessions with classes, connecting local issues to wider processes and global context. Last year these classes were oriented around local environmental topics.
Year one (2018/19) and year two (2019/2020) focused on SDG 11: ‘Sustainable cities and communities’ and SDG13: ‘climate action’, respectively. Each year culminates in a protest ‘walk’ with students across Europe uniting to voice their support for the year’s SDG locally and globally. Here images show last year’s walk, which was modified in most countries to be much smaller in scale. Many countries embraced ‘virtual’ walks which altered the scale and format, but not the impact of the activity.
School pupils in Sofia, Bulgaria and Normandy, France
GCE – The WtGW project was created within the framework of ‘Global citizenship education’, which has continued to grow in pedagogical significance around the world since its inclusion in the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015. Despite comprehensive guidelines from UNESCO, GCE is experienced differently across locales. Elements of human rights education, peace education and education for sustainable development are evident across Global citizenship educational contexts, in both the global north and south. GCE has also become prominent within policy through efforts to educate children to help build a peaceful, just and sustainable world. Accordingly, close to 90% of UNESCO member states utilise GCE across educational settings.
GCE’s practical pedagogical emphasis is on knowledge, skills, values and attitudes. Within the context of Walk the Global Walk, the key aims are to affect behaviour change of students, encouraging more sustainable livelihoods and a better engagement with sustainability issues in their local context. Schools are also encouraged to adopt sustainability principles. In Scotland the team at Glasgow university and the city council are helping to setup long term international school partnerships, supply pupils with reusable water bottles and create school gardens and growing spaces. Across the world students take away an array of learnings from GCE teaching. Studies have highlighted ambiguity in student outcomes related to topics like human rights, peace and sustainability.
After the end of the WtGW project, researchers at Glasgow university will be analysing quantitative and qualitative data to assess the impact and outcomes of the project.
The WtGW project is Coordinated in Scotland by Dr Ria Dunkley and Dr Ines Alves, with support from Ben Murphy, at Glasgow university, and Lesley Atkins, Education Officer for Glasgow city council. We are keen to hear thoughts and ideas for project evaluation, as well as ideas for activities, so please do get in touch with us. Please contact Benjamin.Murphy@glasgow.ac.uk