This article considers some of the key challenges and opportunities for global learning. It is argued that global learning is a confused terrain that is emotionally 'hot' because it impacts on deep-rooted notions of nationality and personal identity. The difficulty of engaging with controversial issues such as power relations, social injustice, migration and global poverty are explored, along with the legacy of colonialism. Recognizing that global learning aims to develop new ways of thinking suggests that progression and assessment may need to be reframed around overarching concepts and the formation of values, rather than measurable outcomes. Intriguingly, this also offers an opportunity to realign the curriculum to better address twenty-first-century needs, particularly with respect to sustainability and the environment.