Introducing Globalization and Sustainability Issues in Teacher Education: A Case Study of Two Courses in a Social Justice-Oriented Program

Tania Ramalho, Barbara A Beyerbach


The paper describes the process of developing a global education curriculum in two teacher education courses at a state university in the United States. The initiative intended to develop critical thinking from diverse perspectives about global issues, motivate trainee teachers to include global education and instruction in their own practice, and to consider identities as global citizens. Student responses before and immediately after the innovation are described, and conclusions drawn on further steps to be taken in thinking about sustainability and globalization in teacher education.

What would happen if teachers embraced the identity of global citizen (Banks 2004) and sought to help their students develop such an identity? What if they regularly infused issues of globalization and sustainability in the curriculum? As teacher education professors at a state university in the United States, we provide our students with insight into such wider political contexts during class discussions about poverty, race, ability, gender and sexuality. We aim to give them an understanding of the impact of oppression on education and schooling. In fall, 2006, we taught two courses: to undergraduates Culturally Relevant Teaching and Critical Pedagogy, and a graduate course. We used the occasion to collaborate in introducing a unit on globalization and sustainability. In these courses we examined underlying ideological values and beliefs in economic, political, educational, judicial and other institutional systems that perpetuate oppression within the United States and beyond.

By globalization we meant not only the economic integration of world markets within a capitalist framework, but also all of the ways in which we are interconnected (Bigelow & Peterson 2002). In the courses we examined aspects of the social, political, technological, military, and cultural impacts of global interconnections as well as economic relations. By sustainability, we meant living in ways that conserves the Earth?Ǩs resources to ensure the survival of subsequent generations, while eliminating poverty (United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organization 2007). In the courses we examined child labour, fair trade agricultural initiatives, alternative energy sources, and conservation initiatives in a global context.

As Brazilian and U.S. born educators we had invested effort into better understanding omissions, distortions, and stereotypes in our education through study and travel in Latina America, Europe, and Africa. This gave opportunities to renew our commitment to developing our perspectives of global citizens. Each of us had experienced our students?Ǩ reluctance to think about oppression experienced here and now, and about our roles in perpetuating the status quo. We wanted to teach about globalization and sustainability in ways that connected conditions and events taking place elsewhere in the world to those in the United States.

This paper describes the context, procedures and outcomes of our work on introducing globalization and sustainability into teacher education. Section 1 offers a brief historical account of global education in the United States, and discusses our assumptions about the importance of teaching about globalization and sustainability in teacher education. Section 2 provides information about
the conceptual framework and programs for teacher education in our School of Education, and a description of the two courses. In section 3, we outline the curriculum project?Ǩs goals, instructional activities and reading materials, and approach to evaluation. Section 4 analyzes responses to six pre- and post- assessment survey questions completed by students. In section 5, we indicate what learned from the project and some steps towards furthering the study of sustainability and globalization in teacher education.

Full Text: PDF

Editor-in-Chief: Prof Norbert Pachler
UCL Institute of Education, University College London
ISSN 1746-9082

Related Link