Why I Believe in Global Citizenship Education

Holly Huntrods

In the modern world, young people have more and more access to information, social interaction, and international communication. Be it through television and film, social media, or travel, we are all increasingly connected, and exposed to more information than any other period in human history. As a young person who studies and works in international policy and politics, it has become clear that there are certain skills and competencies that we all need in order to safely and effectively navigate the modernising world.

My name is Holly, and I work as the Programme Assistant for the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change’s education programme, Generation Global. My role predominantly involves ensuring our programme is running smoothly, researching global citizenship education policy & discourse, and supporting my colleagues all over the world.

Working at Generation Global has given me a first-hand perspective on the benefits of garnering and utilising the skills you gain from Global Citizenship Education, particularly At Generation Global, we follow the UNESCO framework which characterises Global Citizenship Education (GCE) as a response to global issues, such as Human Rights violations, inequality, and poverty, through uniting young people and empowering them with the skills, attitudes and knowledge they need to approach these topics.

How Global Citizenship Skills benefit us in our daily lives

  1. Global Citizenship Skills equip students with transferable skills that contribute to progress across the curriculum

    Understanding Global Citizenship has not only provided me and my peers with a depth of understanding about the civic and political world we exist within, but it has served as form of brain training. Through engaging with global and national issues around me, especially when faced with different opinions in my peer group, I have had to learn to think critically, reflectively, and analytically about the information I am presented with

    These skills became crucial during my A-Level exams, especially when analysing literature like Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, where comprehending its political context required me to think critically about real-world history

    In fact, the understanding of GCE as a form of is recognised by academics, such as Lilley, Barker & Harris who support this idea that Citizenship Education contributes to developing critical thinking skills across the curriculum (Lilley, et. al., 2015). I believe that being able to think critically about civic and political issues that we encounter within Global Citizenship Education, can be applied to our classroom learning, real-world observations, and personal experiences.

  2. Global Citizenship Education provides the skills and knowledge needed to act as informed and proactive thinkers in our political lives, during elections and beyond

    Speaking with friends and peers in my age group, there seems to be a broad dissatisfaction with the political landscape, pointing to a sense that their interests are not adequately voiced or represented. One reason why this may be the case is the lack of political education within our schooling, and subsequently, a lack of understanding of different avenues through which we, as young people, can contribute to change If we all had access to the core skills of dialogue - ideally through making Global Citizenship Education accessible to everyone at school - we would enter our adult lives as politically competent and empowered individuals.

    Working within a political environment, I see young people not only engaging with, but leading in their respective political fields. This experience has shown me that when young people have the necessary knowledge and skills to engage politically, they actively participate. At the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, I have colleagues who regularly engage with politicians, contribute to reports for world leaders, and provide guidance to governments. This highlights that our generation is not inherently apathetic. These colleagues understand how to engage with topics of global importance, think critically about the issues they care about, and use available resources to drive meaningful progress.

    This is echoed within the broader political world, in which young leaders like Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and Shamma Al Mazrui are changing the game. Xiuhtezcatl, a climate activist and music artist from Mexico, uses popular culture to influence prominent figures and protect the climate. Shamma, appointed as Minister of State for Youth Affairs in the UAE at 22, is shaping government policy on youth issues. These examples prove that young people can participate and lead political action with the right access and support.

  3. Global Citizenship Education doesn’t only provide us with skills as individuals, but can equip us as a generation, to make progressive change in society

    Something that I have taken from seeing the amazing work of young people around me, is the power of collective action. When our generation is well-resourced, we can enact meaningful social and political change, just look at the Black Lives Matter movement, or the incredible LGBTQIA+ activists all over the world. When we work as a collective, Global Citizenship Skills provide us with the competence we need to combat injustice and inequality in society.

    Global Citizenship Education plays a significant role in providing learners with the cognitive skills and practical knowledge they need to engage with global and political issues. Through these learnings, young people often reconsider aspects of society they had previously obliviously accepted, such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. It teaches young people how to form their own critical opinions, thus equipping them with the understanding they need to translate these opinions into tangible action against the injustice they see in society.

    In conclusion, Global Citizenship Education lays a strong foundation of knowledge that is essential for the young generation to navigate their civic and political lives. This is evident not only in the interdisciplinary application of Global Citizenship Skills, but in the impact that young people are making within politics and social justice, once they understand the avenues through which they can get involved.


In order of appearance

  1. UNESCO, Global Citizenship Education Global citizenship education (unesco.org)
  2. Lilley, K.; Barker, M.; Harris, N., Exploring the Process of Global Citizen Learning and the Student Mind-Set, Journal of Studies in International Education, Vol. 19, 2015
  3. Founders - Earth Guardians
  4. Shamma Al Mazrui - Women Political Leaders
  5. Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), Election Night 2018: Historically High Youth Turnout, Support for Democrats, 2018