(by Tara Nuth Kajtaniak)
Global economic competitiveness (perhaps the most dominant rationale, but not my favorite. Read why here):
Global economic competitiveness is a common rationale for globally-oriented education in North America (Howald, 2012; Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2011; Stewart, 2012). More than 3 billion people in India, China, and the former Soviet Union have entered the work force since 1990, and their sights are set on developing prosperous middle classes through highly skilled and competitive work forces (Stewart, 2012). Some research posits that the United States cannot maintain its standard of living unless it provides its citizens with an education system that enables them to compete and cooperate on a global scale (Howald, 2012; Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2011; Stewart, 2012). In December 2010, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development released its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results, and American students scored significantly below those in other developed countries (Stewart, 2012). Meanwhile, 21st century jobs require higher levels of education, sophisticated problem-solving skills, and communication skills that cross national boundaries (Stewart, 2012). While global education standards have changed along with the transformation of skills and global knowledge necessary to be successful, the education system in North America has remained stagnant (Stewart, 2012)
Social and environmental justice rationale:
Human rights issues and global social and environmental justice is another rationale for global citizenship education (Abdi & Sculz, 2008; Eidoo et al., 2007; Harth, 2010; Yamashita, 2006). The post-World War II promise of world peace has yet to be seen despite the fact that in 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since its adoption, all of its 30 articles have been violated on every continent in the world (Abdi & Schulz, 2008). The increasing interconnectedness of the world brings a profound ability for people to either help or hurt others throughout the globe (Harth, 2010). Despite the fact that 85% percent of the world is composed of non-Western cultures, citizens of the West—in particular of the United States, due to its position of power in the world—have a significant role to play in either contributing to or alleviating problems around the world including global environmental destruction, economic instability, poverty, political turmoil, among others (Harth, 2010).
Americans know little about the world around them:
An abundance of evidence exists that shows that young Americans simply do not know a lot about the world outside of their own cultural spheres (Harth, 2005). The most recent graduates of American educational institutions are unprepared for the global world as evidenced by their lack of knowledge about global economic issues, contexts of world events, and human and political geographies (National Geographic & Roper Public Affairs, 2006). In a comprehensive survey of global knowledge, young Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 answered about half of the questions correctly (National Geographic & Roper Public Affairs, 2006). About 37% of young Americans cannot find Iraq on a map, 60% do not speak a foreign language, 20% believe that Sudan is an Asian country, and almost half believe that Islam is the majority religion of India (National Geographic & Roper Public Affairs, 2006). In addition, about half of young Americans cannot find New York on a map (National Geographic & Roper Public Affairs, 2006). In terms of how the United States fits into the world economically, young people are also lacking basic knowledge; 75% of young Americans think that English is the most widely-spoken language in the world rather than Mandarin, and 71% are unaware that the United States is the largest exporter of goods and services rather than China (National Geographic & Roper Public Affairs, 2006). Most young people in America do not believe that this kind of geographic knowledge is absolutely necessary (National Geographic & Roper Public Affairs, 2006).
Young Americans need to engage with the world:
Young Americans not only lack global knowledge, but they also lack a drive to engage in crucial world events (Zhang, Hui-Yin, & Wang, 2010). In comparison to high school students in China, American high school students place less importance on becoming global citizens and find less enjoyment in global-awareness-related events (Zhang, Hui-Yin, & Wang, 2010). Chinese students tend to study abroad more than American students and show more understanding and respect for different cultures (Zhang, Hui-Yin, & Wang, 2010). Chinese students also pay closer attention to international news and information than American students (Zhang, Hui-Yin, & Wang, 2010).
Global ed promotes inclusiveness and diversity appreciation:
The United States’ position of power in the world brings a responsibility to its educators to prepare students who are reflective and prepared to confront the challenges of the globalized world (Davies, Evans, & Reid, 2005; Harth, 2010; Stewart, 2011). Furthermore, schools are perfect places to promote social justice within the local and global communities (Abdi & Schulz, 2008). Schools are also places where people learn how to be inclusive, gain the courage to confront injustice, and live in diverse communities (Abdi & Shulz, 2008). However, less than one-half of schools in the United States offer opportunities to develop global competencies (Reimers, 2009). Educational materials are overwhelmingly Eurocentric and work to reinforce Western ideals and consumerism without offering alternative ways to view the world (Pike, 2008b). Although new forms of citizenship are blossoming as a result of a more globalized political landscape, national citizenship and the nation-state are still dominant forces in education (Davies, Evans & Reid, 2005). Policy-makers call for scientific and technological literacies, but the advocacy for global literacy tends to be muted (Pike, 2008b).
Global ed is well-rounded:
While scientific and technological literacy is important, it is equally essential to have both an understanding of the forces that shape human life and the ability to positively shape our individual and collective future (Pike, 2008b). An education system responsible for preparing global citizens updates its core subjects to include non-Western cultural awareness, geography, political science, economics, and multidisciplinary global-issue-oriented classes (Harth, 2010).