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Global Citizenship Education Compass: Traversing the Bounds of Long Term Allocentrism

Nicholas Palmer 1


Abstract: In this article the author details a framework for Global Citizenship Education (GCE) practice for practitioners. Based on participant insight from research into GCE development the resulting seven categories – co-creating, orienting being, mapping, planning, allocentric, substantiating and sustaining (COMPASS) – form a GCE framework for action. The COMPASS framework will be of interest to those seeking to develop their understanding and activation of GCE in various educational contexts.

Keywords: Global Citizenship Education; International Mindedness; Constructivist Grounded Theory; Allocentric; Long Term Thinking.


Resumo: A Educação para a Cidadania Global (ECG) é uma educação em grande escala. Ela abrange os valores transpessoais entrelaçados na prática da sala de aula tanto quanto os ideais universais. Como a ECG é desenvolvida na prática, no entanto, é um assunto para análise e debate. Neste artigo, o autor detalha uma estrutura-base para a prática de ECG desenvolvida por profissionais. Com base na visão dos participantes na investigação, no desenvolvimento da ECG emergem sete categorias - co-criação, orientação para um "ser/estar global", mapeamento, planeamento, alocentrismo, consubstanciação e sustentabilidade (COMPASS, em língua inglesa) - que formam uma estrutura de ação da ECG. Esta estrutura será de interesse para aqueles e aquelas que procuram desenvolver a sua compreensão e prática da ECG em vários contextos educacionais.

Palavras-chave: Educação para a Cidadania Global; Mentalidade Internacional; Teoria Construtivista; Alocentrismo; Pensamento de Longo Prazo.


Resumen: La Educación para la Ciudadanía Global (ECG) es una educación a gran escala. Abarca valores transpersonales entrelazados en la práctica del aula, así como ideales universales. Sin embargo, la forma en que se desarrolla la ECG en la práctica es un tema de análisis y debate. En este artículo, el autor detalla una estructura básica para la práctica de ECG desarrollada por profesionales. A partir de la visión de los participantes de la investigación, en el desarrollo de la ECG surgen siete categorías - cocreación, orientación hacia un "ser/estar global", mapeo, planificación, alocentrismo, consubstanciación y sostenibilidad (COMPASS, en inglés) - que forman una estructura de acción en ECG. Esta estructura será de interés para quienes buscan desarrollar su comprensión y práctica del ECG en diversos contextos educativos.

Palabras clave: Educación para la Ciudadanía Global; Mentalidad Internacional; Teoría Constructivista; Alocentrismo; Pensamiento a Largo Plazo.




At the time of writing this article, the world is confronted with the challenges of a global pandemic, the search for revitalised actions toward global goals and uncovering solutions for the struggles of those marginalised. Foreshadowing these aspects of human development is the growing need for global citizenship education (GCE).


Why GCE?

The notion of global citizenship education (GCE) has come to represent both a response to global issues and the cosmopolitan ideal. Recent literature indicates the importance of GCE yet also highlights its difficulty in practice. According to Roberts (2009), the frequent use of the term GCE came from the conception of the global village and commitment to a worldwide community beyond locality (McLuhan, 1968). In recent times, the importance of GCE has been laid out by UNESCO (2012) when they state:

The world faces global challenges, which require global solutions. These interconnected global challenges call for far-reaching changes in how we think and act for the dignity of fellow human beings. It is not enough for education to produce individuals who can read, write, and count. Education must be transformative and bring shared values to life. It must cultivate an active care for the world and for those with whom we share it (para. 1).

Further to the UNESCO stance, Goal 4.7 of the United Nation's (2020) Goals for Sustainable Development states: 

All learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and nonviolence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture's contribution to sustainable (para. 14).

With such overarching missions prioritised, the GCE ideal paints an appealing portrait of 21st century possibility. In support of such a possibility, Reimers et al. (2016) advocates an innovative GCE that synthesises knowledge "from across multiple disciplines to develop new approaches, new ways of viewing problems, and new solutions" (p. xiv). However, in order to achieve this, to articulate and implement GCE effectively, schools require  steadfast conceptualizations. Of the numerous foundational concepts on offer including empathy, collectivism and altruism the psychological construct of allocentrism resonates.



Allocentrism is a collectivistic personality attribute whereby people center their attention and actions on other people rather than themselves. It is a psychological construct that corresponds to the general cultural dimension of collectivism. Triandis et al. (1985) claimed that allocentric individuals are group oriented, interdependent and reflexive to social norms. Further, Caldwell-Harris and Aycicegi (2006) note, allocentric individuals "subordinate personal needs for the good of the group or choose goals which do not threaten group harmony" (p. 332). According to Triandis (2001), allocentric people tend to share resources with others, often with the explicit expectation of receiving reciprocity in the future. Aligning allocentrism with GCE binds the concept to the overarching features of interdependence, empathy and outrospection (Krznaric, 2014; Palmer, 2018). Like allocentrism, GCE is an interpretation of the collective and relational self (Dill, 2013). According to Harshman et al. (2015), such relations reflect "a world of flexible and multiple allegiances, drawing upon multiple literacies – civic, digital, text-based, financial, and more – to engage in an ever-changing world" (p. 59). They contend that the nexus of a GCE approach bridges the local and the global as a cosmopolitan mindset, rendering "even the smallest of our local actions global" (p. 68). In addition to providing a more in-depth perspective on self and action, in line with Donald's (2007) interpretation of global thought and engagement, an allocentric GCE allows individuals and groups to cluster dispositions, articulate global response, and navigate transnational interrelation. To illustrate how such interrelation unfolds in the next section I detail research into the development of GCE in an international school.



I chose constructivist grounded theory (CGT) as the methodologicalapproach for this research because my primary objective was to determine how individuals interact with GCE in the international school (Charmaz, 2014, 2020; Glaser & Strauss, 1967). CGT is a version of grounded theory that adopts methodological strategies such as coding, memo-writing, and theoretical sampling to form an in-depth analysis of participant perspective. CGT research is described by Charmaz (2014) as follows:

Constructivist grounded theorists attend to the production, quality and use of data, research relationships, the research situation, and the subjectivity and social locations of the researcher. Constructivist grounded theorists aim for abstract understandings of studied life and view their analyses as located in time place, and the situation of inquiry (p. 342).

Unlike traditional forms of grounded theory, such as Glaser and Strauss, (1967), traditional approach CGT research requires researchers to accept preconceptions of their research topics while developing data-driven categories. Researchers carrying out CGT collate and analyse data from interviews, documents, observations, and focus groups. CGT analysis involves the identification of concepts referred to as codes, subcategories and categories and a determination of how they relate to each other. Adopting CGT as the methodology for this study, therefore, enabled me to compare emergent findings and allowed for preconceptions. With both preconceptions and fresh concepts in mind, I developed the aim of the study.


The Research Site and Participants

The research was gathered over a six-month period at an international school in Azerbaijan. The school, sponsored by an oil company, runs all three international baccalaureate (IB) programmes, and caters for over 750 students. The school is specifically catering for a culturally diverse clientele associated with the oil and gas industry in the region. As well as the international members of the school community there are several local families also at the school. The participants were chosen based on their involvement with developments in the school and their perceived knowledge of the subject of the research. In total 32 interviews were conducted. Data was also collected through observation and document analysis.


The Aim of the Research

In line with the methodology of CGT as developed by Charmaz (2014), I aimed to:

  • develop a substantive theoretical framework of GCE articulation and implementation where no such theory presently exists;
  • gain an understanding of and find an explanation for the situation faced by educators attempting to articulate and implement GCE;
  • ensure the research would be relevant to the development of policies, programmes and organisations concerned with the articulation and implementation of GCE; and
  • provide a unique, qualitative, in-depth perspective of the situations faced by groups and individuals articulating and implementing GCE.


Research Questions

In the process of responding to these aims, I explored GCE with the following overarching research question: How does an international school articulate and implement GCE?

To address this overarching question, I formed the following sub-questions: 

  • What are the contextual understandings of GCE at a single international school?;
  • How does one international school practise GCE?;
  • What features of an international school enable GCE?; and
  • What features of a GCE theoretical framework emerge?

In the following sections of this article I detail the categories that developed as a result of the interviews, document analysis and observations I carried out. Each category formed because ofan ongoing analytical process known as constant comparison. Constant comparison is a method of analysis that generates successively more abstract concepts and theories through inductive processes of comparing data with data. Charmaz (2014) notes that constant comparison reveals “the properties and range of the emergent categories" (p. 342). In later analysis such abstractions are compared with those found in the extant literature. In the following descriptions of the categories I include examples of the research process along with underpinning participants insight. The first category detailed as a cornerstone of GCE practice is co-creating.



Co-creating refers to the contextualised collaborations and the cojoining of ideas as developed by teachers, students and parents in the international school. As I witnessed these participants working together on designing interactions online, conducting discussions in their classrooms and building further knowledge of different cultures, I relied on my inductive foundation. I sorted more data and made further comparisons. I noted the participants seeking to integrate their ideas. The following quote highlighted the need for participants to focus on the students in setting a GCE agenda:

I suggest if you look at the overarching theme, everything we do, all the decisions we take, as a school, we must conduct ourselves [by] considering what is in the best interests of our students. Whether that is a protection aspect? Or it is a development aspect? Or whether it is a preparation for the future? Our kids will be, in the strictest sense of the word, global citizens. They will go to a variety of different countries, and they will likely not be static. There is a good chance that many of our kids will be mobile and have that global outlook throughout their lives.

I continued to draw observations, conduct interviews and review documents. In one instance, I observed how a teacher developed students' ideas in a class discussion guided by the above quotation. I listened to participants speak of the climate of exploration or the teachers guiding manner as an indicator of fine-tuning GCE. The interviews provided me with language that I committed myself to as I continued to frame phenomena rather than a rigid line of insight. As I sorted and melded salient concepts, I noted the ongoing significance of co-creation. I wrote the following in my research journal:

As the ideas of the participants formed together, I noted their continued focus on shaping agendas and goals. I noticed [that] teachers were co-creating as progress in the formation of shared pathways. As the community, both professional and non-professional[s], developed ideas of how to work under the auspice of collaboration, they built their capacity to work together.

Reinforcing my observations, one teacher participant, pointed to the utility of relationships and trust, stating:

To me, it is optimal to get the most out of the faculty, to make those initiatives work [it is necessary to put] … in the structures that give them ownership and builds [sic] trust. I mean you have got to develop their confidence, then with that trust, they become more flexible.

Some teacher participants saw approaches such as surveys and observations as a way forward. One participant stated, "I think surveys, observations, [of] all staff and teachers and within the school [are needed] to bring together everyone's thinking". Another participant noted that it was especially important that students be provided "with an understanding that they need to be transferable because they no longer are parochial". This quotation reflected a concern about the practice of integrating contextualised GCE rather than teaching it explicitly.

Moreover, another participant commented:

I think it is helpful to have GCE in the curriculum; however, as the IB points out, it is not something that can be explicitly taught. Instead, it can guide your curriculum work and allow you to shape your focus more carefully.

With these contrasting ideas in mind, I questioned possible applications of GCE. Some of the participants pointed out that GCE should not need such a claim, as the interpretations need to be more fluid and less specific. However, one teacher participant noted:

If we are to grasp IM, we need to do it together as a school. That is, students, teachers, parents, cleaners, everyone needs to be a part of the conversation, as it may well be our primary focus in years to come.

From such insights, I established a foundation for global thinking and sought concepts that supported a global outlook. Various initiatives reflected "co-creating". The combination of process and progress in such actions highlighted participants' understanding of a "coming together", a "co-joining" and a holistic interpretation of IM and GCE phenomena. One teacher participant stated:

So how do we do that? Maybe by handing ourselves over to some extent, by providing evidence with some aspects of what we do. Also, communicating our ideas to others who have a different global perspective that is significantly different and that we assume that the values that they have and the extent to which they believe what they believe is correct, is like ours.

I noted the expression "handing we over" and interpreted this insight and the previous descriptions of self-formation as further evidence of the importance of contextualised global being.


Orienting Global Being

Global being referred to the process of shaping worldviews integral to contextualised GCE. As the participants spoke of GCE as long-term responsiveness, they also spoke of global being. They spoke of contemplating GCE as a means of apprehending global being. One teacher participant commented:

It seems at times that we ought to be internationally minded and act as global citizens. That is, we work in an environment that is so multicultural that we already live with multiple perspectives. Yet, we have some groups that dominate and others that do not. I do sometimes wonder if [GCE/IM] if it is just wishy-washy Western pop-culture rubbish.

Yet another teacher participant commented:

Everything is on the table because what we have is a group of teachers and parents and students, who are like 'Well if this is not the best way and we can do something better, let's just go for it'.

I also interviewed a secondary school teacher who walked me through the reasoning behind her approach to teaching an inter-cultural group and spoke of the way she integrates GCE into her teaching and learning. She noted, "in other IB schools I've worked in, we've always tried to reflect the host culture by including the literature". She embellished, "I think GCE is about being aware of other people's cultures, showing an understanding of cultural relativism, not just always having Shakespeare or Whitman or Frost, all those dead white men". The English teacher spoke of building a space to challenge ideas and promote criticality. She said, "it all goes back to being understanding of other people's culture". She noted the importance of refusing to accept "because the English is incorrect, the message is incorrect". She also built a picture of her regular classes, indicating some teachers approached GCE in less productive ways, stating, "some come with this quite narrow-minded, elitist, attitude that some English is non-standard and therefore the message is flawed". She stressed such approaches need not influence the students. It is more about "trying to get away from the position where kids think they're superior". She also stated that she asks students to "take an issue and go and find the text on their own, preferably from a culture not your own from a time that's not your own". This self-focused, student-led approach reflected a link to the insights of other participants, which highlighted IM as a mode of global being for the long term. This teacher commented:

Perhaps this focus on international mindedness [GCE] is too transitory. It is outdated already; we have moved on. All our kids agree with us, 'yeah, yeah, global concepts, yeah. Sustainability? I get it. We walk away from that. Can you give us some new concepts?

As I took time to explore such angles, another teacher participant commented on his understanding of GCE as global being, stating:

I am not convinced we need to work with IM or GCE or any other abstract concept. I do think we need to change our ways, and maybe this means a global approach. Perhaps it does not. We must look at our world closely and appreciate what we can learn rather than just running ragged trying to get somewhere that rarely ends up being what we envisaged. Perhaps the lesson is how we fully engage with the journey. 

I noted that the members of the school community explored the contextualised terrain of global being to enliven discussion and create a space for the formation of process and sentiment.



The school was required to demonstrate examples of GCE for external review. This review, examining contextualised ways of responding to criteria, fell short of critiquing GCE in the way some participants might have liked. For example, while referring to the review, one teacher participant cited a lack of bold definition, noting that "Both Council of International Schools (CIS) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) have a guide. They provide some general outlines. They say, 'we have these initiatives we'd like you to run'. Yet, there is little concrete understanding of GCE or IM". Another teacher participant also commented on the lack of external guidance, stating, "I like the ideas the IB communicate, but there is nothing new or innovative. It is as if both the IB and CIS have wrapped up GCE in a package and said, 'they're [sic] you go'. However, there is no definition or action plan".

Further echoing the challenges related to external framing, the secondary school principal commented on the ambiguity and confusion associated with GCE. In referring to a visit by the CIS and IB reviewing officials, he stated:

The thing that kind of disappointed me is that none of them [i.e., the IB and CIS visiting teams] were new visitors apart from the secretary. So, they have all visited schools, and they have all been examining this process elsewhere, and they did not give us any clues as to what direction to take.

Another teacher commented on the need to move away from external models and develop a contextual interpretation, commenting:

I think to some extent, it is slightly backward planning, but doing the things that relate to global citizenship in the broadest possible definition here in school is just as important as sitting down and saying, we'll let us get together the IB philosophy and then act upon that.

Yet another teacher spoke of integrating GCE in the school as an overarching ethos, arguing:

I think when you are in a position like that with international mindedness; then you are probably going to lose out every time because it is a buy-in situation, an add-on. It should be that it is the thread that runs through all the things that you do.

I observed that the participants were simultaneously pushing for an external conception of GCE and pulling for the contextual development of GCE. As I witnessed this tension, I noted teachers seeking the contextual effect of GCE. 



The pathfinding category denotes the recognition within the international school community of the active possibilities that arise amidst diverse student, teacher, and parent groups. One parent participant spoke of the "unique advantage" the school possessed due to its "cultural diversity". She commented, "it's part of the reason our family felt happy to move here, we knew this would be a wonderful experience for our kids, to interact with so many cultures". A teacher participant spoke of the value of diversity, "it's not always easy. However, we have a real opportunity to set some core values in the students. One of those values is not connecting with one culture but many". Another parent participant commented:

Some parents say 'Well, in America, we do it like this' or 'In England, this is what we do' or 'In Australia, this is what happens'. How many times have you had to say: 'Well, you are not in Australia, you are not in America!

 Another teacher participant spoke of focusing on diversity, stating:

So, you do the things that you know are important and the things that kind of embrace the idea of international mindedness [GCE], something that allows kids to share cultural experiences. Examples include the promotion of the language in their mother tongue, the promotion of host culture and recognising the way that your school interacts with the local community. These are all, almost certainly winners, regardless of how you define them.

Some teacher and parent participants spoke of diversity as an advantage; however, others viewed diversifying as a challenge. A student participant commented, "I like the idea of diversity, but it doesn't turn out equal. I mean, I end up wondering if there will always be the in-crowd". A teacher participant commented:

Culturally some students will not ask questions in front of a group at all. Some students have a tendency not to advocate for themselves and others that may very strongly advocate for themselves. How theyview interactions with peers versus authority is essential.

Another teacher participant commented on the challenges that arose in dealing with diversity, stating: "We are told to differentiate in our classes and make sure we are accommodating different learning levels. It's a challenge to accommodate all the different backgroundsof the students". Although they noted concerns, many participants also saw possibility and positivity in diversity. One parent participant stated: "I'm glad he recognises [GCE] here where all differences are equally valued, whereas, in the US, there are stronger prejudices, either visible or undercurrent messages". Another teacher participant spoke of the advantages of promoting diversity through the curriculum, stating: "We need a curriculum framework, other than the IB, that engages teachers in the planning and delivery of units of work inspiring students to understand who they are, who their community is and how they relate to the world".

Yet another teacher participant expressed the view that remaining open to diversity was pivotal, stating:

Teachers, who are aware of cultural needs and tap into that, are at an advantage with GCE or any other education initiative. If they are curious and want to develop that understanding and empathy of students, in addition to teaching subjects and topics, they are helping create global thinking.

I observed, considering participant perception of GCE phenomena, a growing interest in taking advantage of the many cultures that existed within the school; however, some participants also expressed the view that it might pose an obstacle. As I observed, participants determine possible pathways towards GCE clarity; I noted their interpretations of strategies and processes were reliant on some level of scepticism. However, I also noted participant desire to uncover meaning and connect a better understanding of their mission and values to GCE phenomena.



Triandis (1985) allocentrism is used here to describe active empathy. The major category allocentrism relates to the process of participants accessing multiple modes of engagement in response to others. One teacher participant spoke of the challenges that arise in a learning environment, stating:

(...) it is nice to have diversity and international ideas, as opposed to a need to have. Having that lens that I am talking about suggests that we view everything through that lens, and that lens will ultimately affect some of the decisions that we take. It will ultimately inform some of the practices that we adopt.

Another teacher participant spoke of the need to develop challenging learning possibilities, stating, that "thinking about issues that can be uncomfortable for us (...) was a beneficial exercise". Yet another teacher participant noted that those motivated to explore the GCE process needed to develop connections among those in the community to learn that people are alike "rather than different". Another teacher participant noted that students need "to look for (...) connections with other people within our community around the world and focus on assets as well as the negative". One teacher participant commented: "Working with GCE should be a great opportunity, working in an international school [teachers need] to empower students and take risks". Yet another teacher participant spoke of the need for creativity and posed the following question: "What do you give?". The teacher participant also stated the importance of considering how this could be done "in new and creative ways".

On the recommendation of the director, I observed and participated in a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) class with senior students (aged 15 and 16 years old) to gain further insights into the GCE process.In observing a TOK class, I found an exciting exchange as the group, facilitated by the TOK teacher, explored issues of interest. The students asked how to articulate various perspectives from their home cultural context. In doing so, one student focused on the subject of overcrowded prisons in Spain. Another student spoke of ocean pollution. At the same time, another student discussed deforestation in South America. The students, in pairs, were then given the responsibility of posing the initial question, "How do we know?". Students then had to defend their position highlighting the research and facts behind the issue. The students then responded to two further questions: "What counts as evidence for your stance?" and "How do we judge which is the best model of your issue/solution?". The resulting discussion allowed students to unravel evidence and express their arguments. The teacher participant posed the following question: "What do your stances and potential solutions mean in the real world?". Posing this question encouraged the students to summarise their "case". The inquiry revealed some interesting responses. Students' vigorous defences signified an understanding of the ongoing nature of the discussion. I was surprised to observe the students engage in dialogue rather than seeking to dominate each other with their various perspectives. As a contributor to the exchange, I adopted the role of a naysayer. I elected to promote national ideas over global ideas by stating that we cannot contemplate all responses to all problems. I asked the students whether such solutions should be developed locally by the people most affected. One of the students responded: "I think we already are part of the world and therefore part of the solution, big or small". Another student noted, "it’s important to take on varied ideas from different cultures; that way you can test your idea effectively”. I was struck by how students displayed a shared understanding of and valued a global approach. I also noted that the students were motivated to challenge isolated or unsubstantiated views.

With this TOK observation in mind, I began to map the dynamics and intricacies involved in forming global thought. I noted the importance of seeking out others’ thinking and sharing both aspects and emotions associated with issues. In the case of the TOK class, this was made explicit among the students. Additionally, as a collective group, I noted that the participants preferred global thinking overisolated or insular ways of interpreting “process”.

As I continued the interviews, I noted that the notion of building understanding resonated among the participants. The participants referred to systematic and functional aspects of GCE process; for example, some participants framed GCE action through TAO, others discussed sentimental and creative contributions to GCE process, one principal articulated the school’s mission, and several student participants commented on “the greater good”, “global peace” and “a safer world for all”. These sentimental contributions were less predictable, less systematic, and less linear than other approaches to curriculum. In some instances (for example, when students were exploring how to reduce pollution or help stray animals), they relied on inquiry models or measures of achievement associated with the IB competency (IB, 2018). Notably, the spontaneous nature of some interactions went beyond the “process” and modelled “free”, “open”, “ongoing” and “dynamic” responses to GCE. I noted that these creative approaches were instrumental (rather than incidental) and in flux.

In another example of GCE action, the school invited a group of local students to create a joint artwork with students from the international school. Teachers and students were not aware of the objective of this project and yet “facilitated” the collaboration. On another occasion, the students were invited to an orphanage to “work with” students. Their focus was on interaction rather than meeting prescribed educational goals. I noted the open-ended nature of such experience and how the focus remained, both explicitly and implicitly, on developing an inventive and open approach to interaction. It was through these conceptualisations that I was able to form the major category: outrospective dynamism.

As I sought data, I noted the usage and eventual saturation of the concept outrospection; I also kept in mind the values and ideals present in participants’ contributions. As teacher participants worked toward positive interaction, I noted the consistent need to seek out advantageous and productive assets.



Thinking for sustainability describes the modes of thinking the participants exhibited as they engaged with issues within the international school context. I noted that the participants referred to sustainability and the importance of contemplating projects with lasting effect. Such values were not just in the prescribed missions and visions of the school, but also in the modes of thinking that reflected the school culture. One teacher participant commented:

I have faith in the school, and I have faith as a member of a broader community. So, we have the option to make change without resistance, and I think that is the real benefit of being part of this. It is very different from any school that I have been in before.

 The secondary school principal commented:

We were talking about [GCE] last week—there were a couple of discussions we were having about the way that our arts programme runs, and there have been some suggestions from the art department about making some changes to focus on global issues. It was to do with the timetable. The immediate answer from me was, ‘well, why not?’. Everything’s on the table because what we have is a group of teachers and parents and students who are like, ‘Well, if this isn’t the best way and we can do something better, let’s go for it’.

I noted ideas on GCE as a contextualising way of being. I witnessed participants engaging with global insights, multilingualism, and global thinking; I emphasised the focus on global sustainability, protecting nature and supporting long-term goals. Throughout the research, there was a growing sense of what ideas might need to develop to make GCE work. As one participant stated:

When we are talking about the things that we can do, I am not sure about sitting down and adding to the list of activities that allow us to tick a global mindedness box. I am thinking about something a bit more pervasive where we say what we say we are globally minded and international in our individual and collective outlook. Asking, what are the implications of this initiative we are about to examine?

The participants explained how to form a mindedness for sustainability. However, to some, the focus on sustainability was shadowed by the school’s corporate connection. One teacher stated:

By teaching in an IB school owned by a big oil company? I know the company has made significant strides to try and be more environmentally friendly, but the heart of the oil and gas industry is a money monster.

Despite the corporate dimension and “the company’s” projects, the teacher participant group saw the focus on the environment as crucial. Another teacher commented, “we are trying to see how this global action and these sustainable development goals from the UN are possible so we can tell ourselves we can still do it”. Some participants referred to the UN sustainability goals, while others focused on local matters of environmental concern, such as local pollution concerns, waste management and urban stray animals. Another teacher commented, “sustainability is a key, a crucial understanding if we want to achieve global citizenship. If the kids do not get it, then we do not have global citizenship”. Through their preparedness, as they formed their ideas in a multicultural environment, participants began to reflect on their capacity to respond to global issues. As the notion of sustainability developed in participants, they formed a deeper, long term understanding of global problems. 



Substantiating refers to the evidence supporting the development of GCE. Participants spoke of the need to substantiate claims to support positions, actions, and ideals. In referring to the PYP exhibition, one student participant noted that “as we chose our issues to explore, we also had to research and develop evidence. We had to put together all sorts of evidence, statistics, and records of our discussions with others”. A teacher guiding the exhibition also commented, “we like the students to be critical, but we also like them to build a case for their inquiry”. I noted that the collection of evidence reflected a broader need for members of the school community to provide proof of their perspectives and various opinions. The participants examined evidence through multiple discussions and had specific ways of developing ideas. The following quotation from a teacher participant highlighted the need for Teacher and students to “back up their claims”:

I think risk-taking is stepping into the unknown. You must have some faith that you can take on someone else’s value system or beliefs or their understanding of a topic. Use evidence to back up your claims. Not because it is not your perspective but because how your view might turn out is an unknown.

Another teacher participant noted:

I like to set up my classroom so I can show not only evidence of learning but also evidence of student choices. For example, we had some students wanting to measure wastage over a certain amount of time. I said, ‘Okay, you’ll need to provide pictures and show your measurement, where you get your measurement from as evidence’.

 As student projects developed around the notion of substantiating, there was a clear focus on new ways of conveying information to ensure further quality and clarity.

Collectively the concepts combine to form the acronym COMPASS. Each concept in COMPASS indicates a category within the substantive framework and thus presents an empirical foundation for a theoretical framework and a practical framework, denoting markers of GCE practice guiding schools, practitioners, and students toward a clearer and more practicable GCE.



Appiah (2007) states, “every human being has obligations to every other” (p. 144). With this axiom comes the clarion call for global citizenry. To contemplate GCE, however, is to contemplate not only a vision of global solidarity but also its underpinning values. According to Krznaric the difficulty in understanding the idea of global values, is short term individualised thinking that exacerbates an inactive role in the big picture. Such a mindset extenuates attitudes toward education, says Krznaric, and the lynch pin of a renewed, and outwardly extendable notion of global thinking that accepts that our thoughts and actions have consequences. According to Krznaric (2020) "education appears to suffer from an inherent time tension" (p. 230). He highlights the investment shown in the structures of education in the contemporary era. Yet he also notes that what students "need to learn is in a constant state of flux" (p. 230). He cites two pathways for education to develop over spans of time much broader than we have become accustomed to. The first, our capacity to relate. Secondly, the capacity to think in exponentially greater lengths of time. He states, "we need education systems that forge a bond with future generations who will inherit the consequences of our actions" (p. 230). Krznaric’s analysis aligns with Singh and Qi (2013) when they state "teachers and students must maintain scepticism about international mindedness [GCE] and whatever forms of knowledge it mobilises, helping them to achieve in the present whatever immediate changes they can, while keeping in mind the long-term goals" (p. x). Further, Lai et al (2014) comment:

Given the situated nature of the challenges, it is argued that the endeavours to support education for cosmopolitanism and global citizenship should take a localised approach, focusing onsupporting schools and teachers to explore different models and pedagogies that areappropriate for their particular teaching contexts (p. 94).

Such contextualisation and adaptation take practical GCE into a distinctly creative arena. COMPASS is one such way to deploy ingenuity, innovation, and imagination. It provides practitioners with a backdrop through which they are able to frame discussions, goal setting and collective commitment to ensure inclusion and innovation. Figure 2 denotes the categories that make up the COMPASS framework along with supporting data.

 Figure 2 - The COMPASS framework (with accompanying data).



In this article the author has presented examples of ongoing research into the articulation and implementation of GCE in an international school. Using a CGT methodology, the researcher has determined seven major categories: co-creating, orienting being, mapping, pathfinding, allocentrism, sustaining and substantiating (COMPASS). The acronym COMPASS chiefly represents the substantive theoretical framework as it has developed in this ongoing research. COMPASS also represents a metaphor for navigating the development of GCE as an important means of supporting increasingly urgent global issues and opening a space for innovative practice.


[1] The School of Linguistics, Adult and specialist education, University of Southern Queensland.



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