Starting with a review of the main points of the global citizenship education (GCE) development in Finland, the article opens up the current results of the international GLOBDIVES project. It shows the project work to support the teaching of GCE and international cooperation for higher educational institutions. The article refers to GCE following the definition by UNESCO that defined it as education that aims to empower learners of all ages to assume active roles, both locally and globally, in building more peaceful, tolerant, inclusive and secure societies (UNESCO 2021).
Global citizenship education in Finland
The long-term history of GCE in Finland started in the 1970s with the introduction of internationalisation to the comprehensive school curriculum. Back then, human rights, equality, peace, and environmental and intercultural issues became a part of national guidelines. (Räsänen 2002, 107.) Sustainable development, tolerance, international security, and various forms of globalism joined internationalisation in the eighties and nineties (Pudas 2015, 59–60).
The term international education gave way to the GCE at the beginning of the century. The Maastricht Global Education Declaration highlighted the following dimensions of the GCE: development, human rights, sustainability, peace, conflict prevention, and intercultural education (Council of Europe 2002: 13). Although the Finnish National core curriculum for basic education (Finnish National Board of Education 2004) reflected the Declaration principles, it took several years for the GCE to start being noticed on all the levels of education. In 2007, the Ministry of Education introduced a Global education 2010 programme (Ministry of Education 2007) intended for all the education sectors in Finland. The programme was only a recommendation for national educational institutions, but it marked the beginning of the research and project work on the subject. Global education competencies of educators became subjects of study among teachers and teacher students in Finland. In 2007–2017, the GCE research in Finland focused on intercultural education and education for sustainable development (Lehtomäki & Rajala 2020).
Nowadays, the GCE is linked to the development policy of Finland that supports the Agenda 2030. Finland integrated Quality Education Goal into the National Action Plan (Prime Minister’s Office 2020). Quality Education implies sustainable development and living, human rights, gender equality, peace education and the promotion of a non-violence culture, global citizenship, and cultural diversity (Prime Minister’s Office 2020, 117). As an integral part of global citizenship, internationalisation is included in educational policies. This year, the Ministry of Education and Culture published the Vision for strengthening the international dimension of Finnish higher education and research by 2035 (Ministry of Education and Culture 2022). The Vision highlights the role of international cooperation for higher educational institutions. It brings internationalisation and its influence on society to the core functions of higher education and research.
Teaching material for the GCE
The international GLOBDIVES project started in the beginning of 2022 with research on the GCE and the material available for teachers in the participant countries. The Finnish research noted that although global education is supposed to be implemented at all levels of education, the material for educators is not evenly distributed. There are many resources for early childhood and basic school education. The availability and richness of the material descend towards the upper secondary and vocational education level. At the higher educational level, there are mostly study programmes and separate courses; materials for educators were not found.
GCE is included to some extent in teacher education programmes and intercultural studies in the universities of Helsinki, Jyväskylä, and Oulu. According to the material research and a set of interviews, Universities of Applied Sciences include global citizenship as a part of different courses on multicultural development, internationalisation, and international management. The extent and the variety of the taught themes depend on the choice and preferences of a lector. There is still no single study plan for the GCE, material support for educators from higher educational institutions, or a course on global citizenship taught across the UASs.
GLOBDIVES – what is there to offer?
Understanding the importance of global citizenship and internationalisation, the LAB University of Applied Sciences (LAB UAS) joined an international GLOBDIVES project. The project is carried out by participants from five different European countries: Germany, Lithuania, Finland, Spain, and Romania. So, it strengthens international cooperation between higher educational institutions and strives to raise international skills and competencies of students and teachers. The GLOBDIVES project activities support research, education, and teacher training. The project aims at conducting research on global citizenship and diversity management, boosting the awareness of these concepts among European students of higher educational institutions through joint online teaching. It also provides teachers with pedagogical tools on how to teach diverse students and how to integrate a global mindset into teaching other courses in general. (LAB 2022.)
Within the GLOBDIVES project, all partners research issues linked to global citizenship and diversity management in their countries. Data collected for each research will be consolidated, compared, and reported for educational or further research purposes. Bringing all partners’ perspectives together enables the development of a European pedagogical toolkit and framework.
The LAB UAS team has created and is currently piloting a course on Diversity Management and Global Citizenship for the Sustainable Solutions in Engineering international degree programme. The course strives to create an inclusive teaching/learning environment in higher education institutions where a multinational student gets possibilities not only to study theoretical issues but also to debate over them, to analyse international cases and to implement knowledge by fulfilling tasks connected to real life. Next spring, the project partners from Lithuania, Germany, Spain, and Romania will present their national case study materials to enrich the course. To go international, the course with its full description and syllabus will be made available in open access sources as a ready-to-implement course for European education institutions.
Additionally, the project will publish a handbook for functionalistic activities to support the ability of higher education teachers to raise awareness about diversity and inclusion in their teaching practices and to teach effectively in a diverse environment. The handbook will contain pedagogical advice for educators on integrating concepts of global citizenship and diversity management into higher school course content. Supporting the international networking of educators, GLOBDIVES has planned an international Train-the-Trainer intensive workshop programme for teachers and local seminars for the year 2023.
The GLOBDIVES team is also working on a European pedagogical framework for teaching global citizenship and diversity management. The central concept of the framework is to support students in improving their self-directed learning abilities through learner-centred methods. Real-world problem-based learning engages students to develop their skills in the subject area. So, the project is trying to create a quasi-real learning environment that builds trust for sharing personal insights. Moreover, the project research has noted that different countries emphasise different aspects of the GCE, so the framework supports multiple choices of content and learning outcomes. The common European pedagogical framework of global citizenship and diversity management education will help higher education institutions all over Europe see the relevance of introducing such education. They can use the framework to define learning outcomes and assessments based on the content they identify as relevant in their national context.
At the GLOBDIVES project, we believe that international collaboration will strengthen the quality of higher education and offer something distinguishable for the higher educational institutions all over Europe.
Mariia Baliasina, M.Ed., teacher, RDI specialist, LAB University of Applied Sciences, mariia.baliasina(at)lab.fi
Council of Europe (2002) The ‘Maastricht global education declaration’. European strategy framework for improving and increasing global education in Europe to the year 2015. Retrieved 10.10.2022. Available at https://rm.coe.int/168070f089
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UNESCO (2021). What is global citizenship education? Retrieved 12.11.2022. Available at https://en.unesco.org/themes/gced/definition