Global Citizenship education “refers to a sense of belonging to a broader community and common humanity. It emphasises political, economic, social and cultural interdependency and interconnectedness between the local, the national and the global.” (UNESCO 2015). According to this paradigm, students should see the processes and phenomena associated with globalization not only as a global trend that opens up opportunities for individual economic improvement, but also responsibilities and duties towards our fellow citizens in an ethical, principled manner. Moreover, the call is not only for students – a sense of mission in higher education based on global citizenship must be embraced by faculty and staff as well, along with the rest of the academic community.
A pedagogy based in global citizenship is particularly important in socio-legal education across all levels. Some of the most pressing issues covered in socio-legal studies curricula, affecting the lives of millions of people, have a strong international/global dimension and can be best understood (and taught) accordingly. This is obvious in the case in courses that cover the socio-legal implications of a variety of topics of a global/transnational nature – such as migration studies, global warming and environmental issues, indigenous rights, cybercrime, terrorism and international development / poverty, global/transnational policing (just to name a few). This involves reflecting about the themes in question with a global view, debating their ethical dimension with a special sensitivity towards this dimension, fostering a critical perspective that embraces key values of recognition, inclusiveness, equality, sustainability and social justice. This is, it allows educators to enhance empathy, difficult to accomplish but desperately needed in this day and age.
However, even topics/realities that are usually explored, taught and researched in a specific location or domestic context could (and should) be explored with a comparative/international outlook, establishing their relevance in a global context, cultivating a genuine sense of curiosity and responsibility. This applies even to those areas that we have traditionally covered from a local/national lens, such as civil rights activism, police practices, disability rights, punishment, judicial adjudication and other themes.
Many teaching and learning modalities can be employed to advance Global Citizenship in Socio-Legal Society Studies – from including key classes/topics in our curricula, to different modes for delivery specifically devised with this goal. We would love to hear more about the different examples of tactics/strategies readers follow in their courses, and the extent to which they have been successful (or not). We want to know more about what resources you use, and whether (and to what extent) you receive institutional support. Quite often, universities and colleges express a need for ‘internationalization of the curricula’ and expect faculty to follow through, but without providing the tools and backup needed to this end. We hope this blog can help to fill this gap.
Of particular note are the different initiatives that involve physically moving outside of the spatial social, cultural and political context where the academic life of staff/students usually takes place – that is, initiatives that involve ‘global mobility’, especially study tours. This initiative has special resonance for Socio-Legal Studies and is a topic that I am very keen to discuss further with other colleagues. Shameless plug: At La Trobe, together with my colleagues Trevor Hogan and Terrie Waddell, I co-coordinate a research-oriented Study Tour that brings undergraduate and post-graduate students from Melbourne, Australia to New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta region over the course of three weeks. It is interdisciplinary by nature, with a very strong emphasis on Civil Rights and Social Justice in comparative perspective. I hope to share my experiences in detail in subsequent posts.
We look forward to your comments.
Raul Sanchez Urribarri
Note: For readers who feel coy about sharing their experiences in the blog, feel free to contact me and I will be most happy to discuss over e-mail and/or include part of our joint reflections in a future blog post if preferred.
Raul Sanchez Urribarri (PhD, LLM) is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Crime, Justice and Legal Studies at the Department of Social Inquiry, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. He is a Member of the Law and Society’s Board of Directors at the Consortium for Undergraduate Law and Justice Programs (CULJP) since 2018.