Jesuit Education Prioritizes an Awareness of Globalization and its Impact on 21st Century Learning

“Jesuit schools enjoy a built-in network to establish connections, partnerships, and relationships around the world.
Jesuit schools have built-in security, confidence, safety, local knowledge, and established presence” (Global Identifier #3: 186)

 

One of the 10 Global Identifiers of Jesuit schools is Global Citizenship education. We are living and working in a globalised world. Our students and Alumni are serving all over the world, crossing the boundaries of nations and continents. Our education today, therefore, cannot be restricted to one area or one region or nation. Respecting the local contexts and culture, we must educate our students to be Global Players. This requires an awareness and understanding of cultural and linguistic diversities in the world around us. Only a global perspective can help to reduce the tensions in the world.

When the world is trying to be one through globalisation, there is also a move among people to be more narrow-minded, regionalised, and overly jingoistic. There is a surge of extreme nationalist movements in many parts of the world. True education must teach our kids to develop with a global perspective. ‘Global Citizenship’ thinking itself is a great step towards this.  The Global Citizenship course offered by Educate Magis for Jesuit schools is a leap toward educating our teachers, and thus in turn, our students to be global citizens.

When we look around the world what we see and hear is a lot of ‘talk’ about Globalisation. Of course, globalization is happening to an extent in the world. But are we truly living in a globalized world? There are increased, varied forms of mobility around the globe. There is physical movement of people from one country to another country, in some cases voluntarily and in other cases forced. In education, there is also an increased mobility of students from one country to another, and from one university to another.  Today, students from different cultures, languages, religions, and regions sit in the same classroom and learn together.

Similarly, several corporate companies today have people from different cultures working together for the same company. Multi-national companies have set up their units everywhere in the world.  Many universities offer distant virtual courses that can be accessed by any student from anywhere in the world. Our own Worldwide Learning (WWL) is an example. Similarly Educate Magis offer courses which can be taken by teachers in Jesuit schools across the globe.

Thanks to internet and the virtual technologies and transportation, life has become very different for the modern generation. “The boundaries between home and away, local and global, here and there are increasingly blurred” (Caruana, 2010, p. 52). In short, one of the significant signs of globalization is the increased flow of information, people, products, and newer ideas around the globe.

However, these are one side of the development of globalization in the world. There are other signs that are not so encouraging. Typical to the globe where one side is bright and the other is dark, a globalized world too has brighter and darker sides.  We cannot assume that each member of the global community is equally living happily and safely and that the globe is peaceful and harmonious. Inequality, injustice, discrimination, poverty, insurgency, terrorism, violence, hatred, conflict, war, oppression, illiteracy, drug trafficking, and pandemic type of epidemics prevail in some corners of the world. To solve these issues global educators must come out with a new way of educating our students.

The Jesuits at the global level have already produced an excellent and balanced interpretation of globalization, Globalization and Marginalization: Our Global Apostolic Response. An international task force drawn up by the Social Justice Secretariat of the Jesuits, issued a 55-page booklet, Globalization and Marginalization, in February 2006. This booklet gives a studied insight into the pros and cons of globalization. Two of the major points the document wanted to deliberate were (1) “The need for Jesuits to develop a critical global outlook in the people we educate and in our educational institutions”. Despite some success stories, few would argue that Jesuit education, as a whole, is conspicuous, at present, in developing such a critical global outlook, and (2) ” The lack of synergy among our educational institutions renders them unable to respond to the issues raised by inter-connectedness”. Successful non-governmental organizations in global civil society (such as, for example, Greenpeace), know how to network in a global world and engage in the building of globalization from below in global civil society. The paradox is that the Jesuits sit on a stunning global network of schools, parishes, retreat centres, social institutes but seem unable to connect them together or parlay their resources into effective global initiatives. They need to reflect much more on the global organizational logic of networking (how it is done and what it can achieve). (Ref: America Magazine, Jesuits and Globalisation, Dec. 12, 2007)

All these documents and deliberations have facilitated the development of Jesuit education. When the Secretariat of Jesuit Education set out to articulate the identifiers of Jesuit schools, one of the points which emerged was Global Citizenship education. “To that end, Global citizenship education should not be merely an add-on, but integrated into the core curriculum. This is the case when teachers and students incorporate global and cultural examples throughout their study, when communication skills that are globally mindful, inclusive, and effective are taught, when all disciplines are approached with an awareness of globalization and its impact on 21st century learning, and when one’s global and multicultural experiences are prioritized in student achievements and faculty hiring for mission”. (The Global identifiers #3; 182)

The third global identifier of Jesuit schools is “Jesuit Schools are committed to Global Citizenship”. “(179) This means preparing students and their families to identify first and primary as members of the human family with a common responsibility for the entire world rather than just members of a particular nation or group”.  This does not undermine or reduce the importance of local affinity or love for the nation to which one belongs to.

By nature, Jesuits are Global missionaries. ‘Our Ignatian vision allows us to find God in all things and to set the world aflame with the warmth and light of God’s saving love’. Through Global Citizenship education, we help our students to be global citizens who truly see God in all things, to be driven by compassion, and to utilize the power of religion for justice and peace. Because we believe, our faith and justice must go together, to promote peace and harmony in the world.

One of the essential elements of Global Citizenship education is dialogue with cultures and religions.

To that end, Global citizenship education should not be merely an add-on, but integrated into the core curriculum. Teachers and students incorporate global and cultural examples throughout their study, when communication skills that are globally mindful, inclusive, and effective are taught, when all disciplines are approached with an awareness of globalization and its impact on 21st century learning.

The entire Jesuit educational pedagogy should lead students to understand and respect world cultures and value diversity, be open to experiences of countries, customs and cultures that are different from one’s own and to have a global perspective on social injustices. As far as possible, our schools should encourage conversational skills in foreign languages, partnerships between schools across the globe, and collaborative programs among schools to examine global issues and initiate joint projects. This can be achieved only through better networking, students and teacher exchange programmes, and technologically based exchanges such as Connected Classrooms, global seminars, courses, spiritual retreats, and multicultural community service programs. Students with marginalised backgrounds should be well represented in all these activities.

Jesuit schools are inherently global, and multi-cultural because Jesuits are a large global network. Jesuit schools are spread out across all continents. Therefore, it is expected that we give and take our best practices to and from one another to enrich our global vision and mission. Global Citizenship is a great initiative towards forming a global community, which respects the local identity and cultures yet act as global citizens who respect and dialogue with other cultures and nations. We must concentrate on muti-cultural exchanges more than ever today. Educate Magis provides an online community platform for all our institutions and educators to engage one another in this dynamic and creative process. I am sure all our schools and educators will utilise the opportunity and promote ‘Global Citizenship education’.