|Teaching Civic Engagement Globally is the result of collaborative work spanning scholars from multiple disciplines, fields, and careers. Political scientists, educators, and students have joined to produce important, timely research.|
Chapter 1: Stop Training Global Political Hobbyists! Teaching Students How to Be Engaged Global Citizens Through Transnational Women’s Activism
by Candice D. Ortbals, Abilene Christian University, J. Cherie Strachan, Virginia Commonwealth University, Lori Poloni-Staudinger, Northern Arizona University, Debora Lopreite, University of Buenos Aires, and Celia Valiente, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.
Democratization, political rights, and access to voice transpire when the disenfranchised make it clear they must be consulted if society is to run smoothly and without disruption. We argue that political engagement pedagogy should teach students that the right to participate in decision-making has always been earned through organizing in the public sphere and through collective action. To become engaged citizens in a global world, i.e. to become power-wielding global citizens, students must see social and political change as something they can demand even when issues of concern cut across national borders. Further, they should be taught to achieve global political influence by collaborating with people in various world locations who also want change. Instead of becoming “political hobbyists,” who understand and can make in-depth arguments about political issues but still have limited interest in and/or ability to influence real-world political outcomes, we argue that students need training for globally engaged citizenship. By this, we mean that learning experiences must move beyond familiarity with global issues to practicing the collective action skills required to influence global and/or “glocal” issues, i.e., local issues with global roots or consequences.By this, we mean that learning experiences must move beyond familiarity with global issues to practicing the collective action skills required to influence global and/or “glocal” issues, i.e., local issues with global roots or consequences.
We suggest transnational feminism as the basis for a pedagogy that teaches the skills of reflexivity and empathy.
Reflexivity is defined as an understanding of one’s own position in the social world and it allows students to begin to comprehend how their own position differs from the identities and experiences of their peers or those of activists in other countries, which in turn prepares them to later engage in activist networks. Feminist empathy, an important second skill, is a process of imagination that allows one to become sensitive to the daily experiences of other people and attempts to magnify their voices as a way to transform structures of inequality.
We expand on these civic skills for students by suggesting three engagement activities:
(1) listening to and crafting testimonios, (2) responding to “glocal” issues that cut across national borders but are immediate to students’ environments, and (3) preparing for a faux United Nations Fifth World Conference for Women. While higher education in general and political science in particular pose obstacles to transnational feminist activism as civic engagement, the authors argue it is the best way to address the needs and interests of a changing, diverse student body. Students deserve an education that prepares them to influence political outcomes in an increasingly globalized world. They should be encouraged to do so through reciprocal, collaborative, and uncoerced relationships with their allies around the world and in ways that transform power relations to empower the voices of many.
About Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
Educators around the globe are facing challenges in teaching politics in an era in which populist values are on the rise, authoritarian governance is legitimized, and core democratic tenets are regularly undermined. To combat anti-democratic outcomes and citizens’ apathy, Teaching Civic Engagement Globally provides a wide range of pedagogical tools to help the current generation learn to effectively navigate debates and lead changes in local, national, and global politics. Contributors discuss key theoretical discussions and challenges regarding global civic engagement education, highlight successful evidence-based pedagogical approaches, and review effective ways to reach across disciplines and the global education community.