GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION AND THE RESPONSIBILITY OF UNIVERSITIES: A SHORT NOTE OF PROFESSOR CARLOS ALBERTO TORRES, DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION AND UNESCO CHAIR IN GLOBAL LEARNING AND GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP EDUCATION

When Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, launched in 2012 the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI), he envisioned education as the linchpin for reducing poverty and hunger, to end wasted potential–and as a key element for the development of stronger and better societies for all.[1] Three pillars support this initiative: putting every child into school, improving the quality of learning, and fostering global citizenship. The GEFI, currently being supported by UNESCO, has encouraged national government agencies, transnational and non-governmental organizations, teachers and researchers to pursue various policies, programs, and pedagogies for global citizenship education (GCE). However, many questions remain regarding the nature and possibility of education that can foster global citizenship.

Traditionally, citizenship education has been associated to ‘civic education’, that is the teaching of constitutional democracy. Three categories are associated with civics education: civic knowledge, which in the context of constitutional democracy entails the knowledge of basic concepts informing the practice of democracy such as public elections, majority rule, citizenship rights and obligations, constitutional separation of power, and the placement of democracy in a market economy that is used as the basic premises of civil society. The second category associated with citizenship building is civic skills, which usually mean the intellectual and participatory skills that facilitate citizenship’s judgment and actions. The last category is civic virtues, usually defined around liberal principles such as self-discipline, compassion, civility, tolerance and respect. Universities will face their own perish if they do not build national and global citizenship based on substantive civic knowledge, civic skills, and civic virtues.

The UCLA UNESCO chair will be delighted to work with the Boston Global Forum-G7 Summit Initiative addressing how Global Citizenship Education can help Peace and Security in the world.  In our Global Citizenship Education Chair at UCLA one of the key goals is to help build a culture for peace and security, and our recent work with UNESCO and the Arab League in Egypt exemplifies how important is this topic. We hope the G7 Summit in Japan in 2016 will discuss how to build a culture of peace and security, with a particular focus on the current Middle East situation.

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