spiral icon
spiral icon
spiral icon

Global citizenship education (GCED) embodies so much of what modern learning is all about – from the examination of complex systems to philosophical inquiry into the world that is forming around us.

Global Citizenship Education (GCED) embodies so much of what modern learning is all about.

© Ben White, Unsplash

While the internet and globalisation have helped us to connect as global citizens, societies around the world are still plagued by division and inequity. GCED is important for a number of reasons:

  • A rapid pace of change requires us to remain aware of the associated inequities it can bring.

  • Inclusive practices have become more important than ever before.

  • We’re more connected than ever, but empathy and good character help us to maintain positive connections. 

  • As we learn more about the wider world, we must become more responsible for our actions and our place in it.

Pace of change

The development of education for global citizenship is as exciting as it is urgent. Rapid technological advancement paves the way for global problem solving at the same time as the Earth and all that lives on it face unprecedented challenges and threats including pandemics, rising inequality and climate change. Global citizenship is about being responsible and ready for the complex and rapidly changing world that we are now in. 

Self and others

GCED empowers teachers and students to learn and think more critically and creatively in a way that will develop an understanding of self, others and surroundings. An increased sense of belonging and inclusion supports emotional and behavioural responses to complex issues. This kind of transformative education develops the character strengths to do well and to do good, and it begins by asking big questions.


GCED is interdisciplinary and embedded in the ethos of teaching, learning and pastoral care. It engenders empathy with close and distant communities at the same time as drawing connections between the learning areas that traditionally stand alone. Giving equal weight to developing good character and critical thinking skills fosters connectedness with knowledge and common goals.  


Responsibility is key – it gives legitimacy to the notion of global citizenship and provides a sound philosophical underpinning for teaching and learning. It is the basis for a move in thinking from the ‘us and them’of self-interest to the ‘we’ of global interest, while preventing the watering down of national and cultural identity by globalisation.

The future-focused skills and qualities that students develop through their learning in global citizenship education will build personal confidence, support good judgement and encourage participation as responsible citizens in civil society.

Useful links

Global citizens is a world-wide movement working to defeat extreme poverty, demand equity, and defend the planet. Find out more how you can get involved, and discover what Aotearoa New Zealand is doing to make the world a more equitable, just, and sustainable place.

Share this page