University of Tasmania
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Articulations of global citizenship education in International Baccalaureate international schools

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posted on 2024-03-22, 04:28 authored by Caroline Ferguson

This qualitative study explored the multiple themes in the expressions of global citizenship education in International Baccalaureate international schools through the main research question: What are the articulations of global citizenship education in International Baccalaureate international schools? I also aimed to find how International Baccalaureate international schools make connections between the ideas of global citizenship and international mindedness. Previous research had focused mainly on teacher perspectives in single locations and found that global citizenship and international mindedness are conceptually and pedagogically challenging. I sought to learn more about how global citizenship is expressed in schools by focusing on examination of the lived experience of the international school students themselves, discovering how they interpret global citizenship education and their school experiences. The student experience was investigated alongside the aims and articulations of global citizenship education conveyed through schools’ mission statements, websites and prospectus materials and the experience of school directors, leaders and teachers.
Three schools were examined in different countries to give a global scope to the study. The research was conducted in three International Baccalaureate curriculum international schools, in Finland, Australia, and The Netherlands. I personally visited all three sample schools, interviewing three school directors, five school leaders and teachers plus fourteen students enrolled in the Middle Years Programme. Observations were also collected about the school environments. An innovative methodology was employed based on a constructivist paradigm. Phenomenological methodology was used for interview data which was interpreted using reflexive thematic analysis. School mission statements, websites and prospectus material data were analysed using critical discourse analysis and semiotic analysis. This allowed a deep, rich investigation of the aims and implementation of global citizenship in the international schools. In conjunction, the methods allowed flexibility in structure to facilitate a meaningful, authentic and sensitive understanding of the complex, multifaceted and contested notion of global citizenship.
This project revealed further knowledge of the sociological contexts of international school education and how crucial concepts in school curriculum and culture are manifested. The text analysis found humanistic and neoliberal discourses of global citizenship in the participant schools’ aims and that school contexts were influential in the conceptualisations of both global citizenship and international mindedness. The aims of global citizenship were evident; however, schools’ texts were unclear about how the values and dispositions of global citizenship are developed. The reflexive thematic analysis aligned with the interview data set, to show that school directors, leaders and teachers lack conceptual knowledge of global citizenship and international mindedness and are unsure of how the two ideas interact. The analysis also identified that schools often interpret global citizenship superficially with limited pedagogical strategies. Students were primarily found to experience global citizenship as interculturalism and adapting to life in new environments. Students also learn global citizenship through interculturalism with personal relationships perceived as more important experiences than the school curriculum. Some students experienced global citizenship as activism, but this was not always encouraged by schools.
The research found that students have meaningful experiences and some deep conceptualisations of global citizenship that could be further enriched through more critical approaches in the school curriculum, community and culture. Schools aim to teach global citizenship but are hesitant to consider the process in practical terms and rely on shallow methods. School directors, leaders and teachers demonstrated that they require support and could benefit from resources to assist the development of ethical, reflexive and critical pedagogies for global learning as well as suggestions for human rights-oriented school global citizenship actions. The project also found that international mindedness, as an overarching component of the International Baccalaureate is not consistently addressed in teaching and learning.



  • PhD Thesis


ix, 421 pages


School of Education


University of Tasmania

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