The four articles that form the basis of this special issue on global citizenship as a pedagogy of hope arose from dialogue among academics and researchers within the Academic Network of Global Education and Learning (ANGEL), a symposium on the topic at the British Education Research Association (BERA) Conference in 2022, and the need to showcase current debates within the field of global learning and development education on the importance of including value-based perspectives within the discourse. There has been a recognition in several publications in the field in recent years (Bosio and Waghid, 2023; Kwapong et al., 2022; Sharma, 2018) that too little attention has been paid to the voices of the marginalised and those who present perspectives that reflect philosophical positions that are counter to the dominant Western educational discourse. There has also been a need within the discussions on global citizenship to bring in educational themes that pose goals for the future and are optimistic, and which therefore promote a sense of hope and that change is possible.
Linked to these concerns has been perhaps an overemphasis on critiques of existing policies and practices, valuable though they may be, to the detriment of posing narratives that suggest more progressive and optimistic views of the future.
This theme of moving forwards can be seen at an international level, where there has been an increasing acceptance of the need to promote debate about the future of education and to ensure that themes such as global citizenship and sustainable development are seen as central to linking these debates to the state of our planet. In its work in these areas, UNESCO (n.d.) has been the obvious leader, through its engagement with the area of transformative learning and its Commission on the Futures of Education, but it is heartening to see the ways in which other bodies are now also beginning to think in a more long-term sense.
In Europe, the body leading this has been Global Education Network Europe (GENE), which is the umbrella body for policymakers in the field. In November 2022, they launched their agenda for Global Education to 2050, which has become known as the Dublin Declaration. This declaration states:
Global Education is education that enables people to reflect critically on the world and their place in it; to open their eyes, hearts and minds to the reality of the world at local and global level. It empowers people to understand, imagine, hope and act to bring about a world of social and climate justice, peace, solidarity, equity and equality, planetary sustainability, and international understanding. It involves respect for human rights and diversity, inclusion, and a decent life for all, now and into the future.
Global Education encompasses a broad range of educational provision: formal, non-formal and informal; life-long and life-wide. We consider it essential to the transformative power of, and the transformation of, education.
Within the declaration, there is a recognition of the need for long-term thinking, to bring in themes such as transformative learning and to ensure that values such as social justice are central to future programmes.
It is within these contexts that the articles in this volume should be seen. They touch on the issues mentioned above from philosophical positions that are rarely discussed within development education and global learning.
Aamna Pasha (2023), through engagement with the Islamic values of adl and rahma, demonstrates how social justice themes within global learning can be applied across different cultural and social contexts. Recognising that more attention needs to be given to value-based perspectives within the field, she suggests that pedagogies of sentiment, through themes such as compassion and justice, can link discourses in and around global education and learning to localised cultural and religious norms.
Namrata Sharma (2023) brings in the impact of recent global crises, including the global pandemic and climate emergency, to outline a distinctive pedagogical approach that brings together concepts from Soka education, the Earth Charter and the concept of planetary citizenship, and that has value creation as its unifying theme. She refers to Delors et al.’s (1996) report Learning: The treasure within to outline a framework based on learning to know, be, do and live together.
Paul Sherman and Olivia Boukydis (2023) follow similar philosophical positions to Sharma (2023) and look specifically at the ideas of Daisaku Ikeda and how his perspectives on global citizenship relate to broader debates in the field. Based on a meta-synthesis of his work, Sherman and Boukydis (2023) note two common themes within Ikeda’s writings that relate closely to academic literature in the area: interconnectedness and valuing difference. What Sherman and Boukydis (2023) also note in Ikeda’s works is the emphasis given to individual responsibility, and this relates to points raised by the other contributors in this special issue, and to the wider literature on global citizenship, recognising that the term implies forms of social action and engagement in society to secure social change.
Massimiliano Tarozzi (2023) moves the debates around values and global education to include discussions about the importance of envisaging possible futures. Focusing primarily on UNESCO’s (2021) report Reimagining Our Futures Together and using key themes from recent literature within global citizenship education, he notes the need to connect hope and the future to a sense of global social justice. Referring to Paulo Freire’s work, Tarozzi suggests that what is needed is critical hope that goes beyond some of the idealism and utopian thinking that can often influence thinking in this area.
What these four articles outline in very different ways is the need to connect the themes that have dominated debates in global education and global citizenship to localised specific cultural contexts and to outline narratives that engage more directly with the concerns around today's global crises. However, to do this, requires some engagement with the theories and ideas from wider educational and philosophical movements and to recognise and discuss the influence of international organisations and movements such as UNESCO and the Earth Charter. The field of development education and global learning has a great deal to offer in understanding, engaging with, and providing suggestions for moving forward in addressing, for example, the impact of the climate crisis and people’s fears for the future. However, it also needs to give more consideration to potential connections to existing cultural and philosophical traditions and to use language that is appropriate to that context.
The Dublin Declaration (GENE, 2022), referred to earlier in this editorial, could be interpreted in several different ways. Some organisations and policymakers may use it as a way of trying to achieve a consensus and a common approach to global education and learning. While there may be value in identifying common themes to influence policymakers, there is the danger of such an approach leading to the lowest common denominator, which inevitably results in voices who have power and influence dominating the conversation. The other approach is to recognise within the declaration the need to adapt global education and global citizenship principles to specific local and cultural contexts. All the articles in this special issue provide opportunities for engaging in debates around how themes such as global social justice and global citizenship have meaning within different contexts, be they national, within international bodies or in specific cultures and communities. The Dublin Declaration refers to themes such as hope, understanding contexts and the provision of a vision for the field's future direction.
Perhaps there has been too little engagement within the global citizenship education debates with more philosophical discussions that concurrently address issues of cosmopolitanism and more critical perspectives, not as polar opposites but as part of ongoing conversations and dialogues that can enrich the field as a whole.
It is this engagement with values such as justice, hope and equity, while at the same time adapting them or refining them in the light of specific national and cultural contexts, that is key to the common themes of these articles. As they have shown, there is evidence of both commonality and difference within the debates in the field of global citizenship education. It is recognising these elements and working with them that can enrich the field's growth and development in the future.