“Development”: Does It (Still) Matter for Global Citizenship Education? Empirical Contributions to the Conceptual Debate

“Development”: Does It (Still) Matter for Global Citizenship Education? Empirical Contributions to the Conceptual Debate

Dalila P. Coelho (University of Porto, Portugal), João Caramelo (University of Porto, Portugal) and Isabel Menezes (University of Porto, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4402-0.ch002
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The current text aims to contribute to the conceptual debate on global citizenship education. It does so by presenting empirical results from a survey that aimed for a comprehensive understanding of representations and experiences of participants and practitioners of global citizenship education in Portugal. Specifically, this chapter presents empirical results that depict common imaginaries around “development” in the context of global citizenship education. The authors assert that despite a terminological shift that favours the idea of “global citizenship” over the idea of “development,” and the polysemic and problematic nature of development, the education at stake cannot be fully understood, problematized, or reconfigured without a clear discussion on development. The chapter aims to provide critical insights on this by looking at assumptions and actions connected to “global development”.
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Worldwide there is growing recognition and explicit inclusion of global citizenship education in education and international development policies, and the commitment with it of various formal and non-formal education actors. The simultaneously promising and problematic nature of global citizenship education has been extensively discussed by scholars. Global citizenship education is complex that is at practical and theoretical levels diverse, tensional and still in the making, than a well stablished and fairly consensual one. Global citizenship education has a “heavy baggage”, in the sense that it calls many concepts that are, per se, quite tensional. Thus the field can hardly be understood without a closer look at its constitutive elements, among which “development” can be included.

Researching the field of global citizenship education is of utmost importance for understanding what it is being “packed” under this education and to envision it as a body of knowledge and practice. Global citizenship education actors, such as promotors and their participants, are key players for research. They can provide significant contributions for the conceptual debate, namely providing access to the practices and imaginaries associated to this education. Research addressing the discourses of global citizenship education practitioners is growing, focused on issues such as their roles, experiences and views regarding this field, and remains highly necessary. Quantitative, comprehensive studies are less common, despite the fact that, along with qualitative approaches, they can offer significant input to a systematized approach to the field. Purposefully designed and validated quantitative instruments, such as the one being addressed in this chapter, can bring an added value for research in global citizenship education.

Considering the pluralities and challenges of “development” and also the fact that this concept is deeply rooted in global citizenship education, the imaginary around development - in terms of meanings, assumptions, enactments - is among the elements that are key to understand discourses in global citizenship. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development brought a renewed attention and opportunity for thinking “development”. This Strategy entered education systems worldwide and echoed significantly in the global citizenship education community, becoming the focus of many practices and policies since its launching in 2015. However, the Agenda too has its challenges, many of which relate to classical issues on “development” altogether. In Portugal, the context that supports the empirical data presented in this chapter, research is considered a priority for expanding global citizenship education. The study of the imaginary around “development” has not been sufficiently explored within global citizenship education, despite being a key term in practices and official guidelines and also that this education is included in the international development sector. Finally, understanding “development” can be an important piece of the coloniality puzzle and provide input for the country’s yet-to-be-done debate on decolonizing memories and territories.

The current chapter aims to contribute to the conceptual debate on global citizenship education, by presenting empirical results from an original survey (Coelho, 2019). Informed by critical and postcolonial scholarship, the study aimed for a comprehensive understanding of representations and experiences about global citizenship education in Portugal. Against the early described, the chapter is focused on the survey questions related to the imaginary around “development”. After this introduction, authors set a theoretical background arguing the relevance of studying representations in the field of global citizenship education, specially drawing attention to how “development” is perceived. After discussing briefly main issues and debates implied, namely, why such reflection can be of use for the Portuguese context, the chapter follows with the methodological background of the survey. The remaining chapter is dedicated to presenting results, to discuss its implications and potential future research directions, and ending with concluding remarks.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Representations Patterns: Common stereotypical ideas regarding other groups, countries, or regions.

Participants: People with present or previous experience on participating in short or long-term global citizenship education initiatives, in formal and non-formal education or others.

Development: Term widely implied to define societal aspirations of advancement and well-being as well as the actions to achieve them. It can also refer to the sector of international development, that was historically created to promote “development” on countries perceived as less advanced.

Global Citizenship Education: Domain of education that aims to raise awareness on global issues and lead to collective and individual social changes, in order to address them.

Global Imaginary: The way global issues are understood and explained, namely, in relation to groups, countries, or regions.

Practitioners: Staff working or with previous experience on working in the field of global citizenship education, in formal and non-formal education, policy-making or other sectors.

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