Global Citizenship and Youth Participation in Europe

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Global Citizenship has been recognized as an important component of education by UNESCO through the Sustainable Development Goals launched in 2015 and the recent Global Education Congress in Croatia. While there has been considerable activity across Europe in encouraging youth engagement in democratic institutions, this report suggests that insufficient attention has been given to the linkages young people make between their outlook on the world, their personal and social identity and the ways they use tools such as social networking to engage in societies. The report also suggests to teachers that they need to address and respond to the interests of young people in issues such as refugees and migration, climate change and global terrorism by equipping them with the knowledge and skills to effectively engage in these debates.
    GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP &  YOUTH PARTICIPATION   IN EUROPE   By Douglas Bourn  Director, Development Education Research Centre, UCL-IOE    This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. Project Number: 2014-1-UK01-KA200-001841  2 Author    Douglas Bourn is Director of the Development Education Research Centre at UCL-Institute of Education and author of many articles and books on development education, global citizenship and education for sustainable development. His most recent publication is The Theory and Practice of Development Education (2015) Acknowledgements   In preparing this report, I would particularly like to thank colleagues from the Development Education Research Centre, most notably Frances Hunt and Helen Lawson and our intern, Francisca Costa. In addition thanks to members of the NGOs from the partner organisations in the UK, Cyprus, Italy and Poland for compiling national reports that have influenced this report and for undertaking the Focus Group discussions with teachers and young people.  3 Executive Summary   This summary of a review of literature on Global Citizenship, citizenship education and engagement of young people in society for the Schools for Future Youth Project aims to act as a stimulus for discussion and debate and to potentially link themes that may be emerging from the nationally based studies. The overall purpose of this paper is to identify the key needs of the Schools for Future Youth Project. It addresses specifically the context within which the Project takes place in terms of evidence on young people’ s engagement in society through Global Citizenship in formal education across Europe. It also identifies the needs of young people and teachers to effectively engage in Global Citizenship Education through a participatory model. It reviews current policies and practices that are relevant to securing more effective teacher and young people’ s engagement in Global Citizenship Education. Finally it proposes models of practice and specific approaches that could secure more effective and greater engagement from young people and teachers across Europe. Global Citizenship Education emerged predominantly as a result of the influence of practitioners within global and development education. Citizenship and Citizenship Education have had a high profile within European education policies since 2000, however the focus of many of these policies has been based on a democratic deficit model: that through increased knowledge about political institutions and participatory skills, young people will become more engaged in society. The policies either at a European level or national state level do provide opportunities for Schools for Future Youth to encourage the promotion of participatory skills within the curriculum. But there is all too often a focus on an uncritical approach towards democratic structures and institutions. What is above all lacking from most of the European and national policies is a lack of recognition of globalisation in terms of its impact on how young people relate to, and wish to engage with, social and political issues.  A distinction can be seen between a more passive and a more active approach to citizenship education, the former based on skills and dispositions and the latter on forms of social engagement. National policies particularly focus on a civics approach to citizenship education which tends to result in an exclusion of the influence of global forces. Citizenship and civics education can play an important role in a young person’ s education but the subject should be seen as valuable in terms of personal and social development and not as a means of addressing problems of democratic engagement.  4 Elements of citizenship and civics education that highlight skills of participation and communication skills alongside understanding of political systems can be important building blocks for a young person’ s engagement with Global Citizenship Education. Global Citizenship and Global Citizenship Education have gained increased prominence internationally as a result of UNESCO’ s initiatives related to the UN‟s Sustainable Development Goals. Whilst the conceptions identified within UNESCO tend to emphasise a combination of a neo-liberal and a communitarian approach, the mere usage of the term gives credence and credibility to the Schools for Future Youth Project.  Across Europe, the dominant influences on the promotion of Global Citizenship Education have come from the policies and funding provided by the European Commission and by a range of civil society organisations aiming to secure increased understanding and engagement in global and development issues. There are however considerable variations within Europe in the extent to which the concept is promoted by national education policy makers and curriculum bodies. In some countries, such as Wales and Scotland, the concept is part of mainstream education policies. In others such as Italy and England, the term is not referred to at all. In Poland and Cyprus, there is support for global education and whilst the concept may not be explicit, curriculum opportunities do exist for using many of the main themes implicit within Global Citizenship. Finally what is also noticeable in a number of countries is the priority given within curriculum initiatives and policies, to the concept of Education for Sustainable Development. Within the countries involved in the Project, there are wide variations in support and openings for Global Citizenship and Global Citizenship Education. Youth participation is seen as youth being actively involved in decision-making and taking action on issues relevant to them. Within formal education, this could be seen as encompassing a learner-centred and participative approach within both the formal curriculum and non-formal or informal learning. Whilst there has been a range of policies and initiatives on citizenship education across Europe in the past decade, these have tended to focus on greater engagement in political institutions or in areas such as volunteering. There appears to be a disjuncture between policies and how young people actively engage in political and social issues, which is today primarily through the use of social media. Young people are at the forefront of the impact of globalisation and this has consequences in terms of their own identity, lifestyle and relationship to social
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