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    Agonistic Controversial’ Issues As A Pedagogy For Global Citizenship Education

    Sant Obiols, E, McDonnell, J, Pashby, K, Menendez Alvarez-Hevia, D, Sellar, S and Hanley, C (2018) Agonistic Controversial’ Issues As A Pedagogy For Global Citizenship Education. In: American Educational Research Association 2018 (AERA 2018), 13 April 2018 - 17 April 2018, New York.


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    The aim of this paper is to explore the possibilities of using ‘agonistic’ engagement with controversial issues as a pedagogy for global citizenship education. Educating for Global Citizenship (EfGC) has been on the educational agenda since the turn of the 21st century. Internationally, global citizenship education is specifically targeted in the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNESCO, 2015). Some countries have been relatively resistant to this global orientated approach to citizenship education. In USA, for instance, the dominant nationalist approach has not yet been replaced for a model that consider the changing nature of citizenship in the context of globalization (Myers, 2006). But other territories (e.g. Colombia, Hong Kong) have explicitly included EfGC in the national curriculum (see Davies et al., 2017. In England, where this research took place, EfGC is not explicitly mentioned in the national curriculum, but it has driven policy and practice (Marshall, 2009, 2011). Two key agendas are emphasized: a) preparing students with knowledge and skills to be competitive in the global market, and b) fostering students’ values, particularly empathy and an orientation towards social justice. However, these two approaches are likely to undermine the roots underlying ‘global’ inequalities (Marshall, 2011). To overcome this challenge, a significant amount of scholarship has promoted a “critical” approach to EfGC which explicitly aims to expose and challenge power relations (e.g., Andreotti, 2006; Lapayese, 2003; al. et au., 2016). Within this later framework, this project aims to engage (rather than ignore) with discussions of power and conflict. Our question is, is ‘agonistic’ controversial issues a potential pedagogical approach for critical EfGC? The paper draws upon empirical data collected during and after a workshop conducted in an English university. The workshop involved undergraduate and postgraduate education students, primary students, researchers and practitioners interested in global citizenship (44 participants). In the workshop, participants were presented with controversial questions related to global citizenship. Participants were required to debate (but not to reach consensus) on these controversies. Data was collected during the workshop activity via field notes and afterwards via diaries and comments written by the participants. The objective was to examine the possibilities of this approach for democratic citizenship in education. In this paper, we first examine the theoretical and pedagogical grounds of our ‘agonistic’ approach to controversial issues. We then present the pedagogical and research method, followed by some preliminary findings and a discussion in scholarly significance.

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