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A Discussion of Buddhist Understandings of Global Citizenship Education Open Access


Other title
global citizenship education
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Nguyen, Truong AT
Supervisor and department
Da Costa, Jose (Educational Policy Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Snart, Fern (Educational Psychology)
Donlevy, Kent (Werklund School of Education)
Eppert, Claudia (Secondary Education)
Van Vliet, Jessica (Educational Psychology)
Shultz, Lynette (Educational Policy Studies)
Da Costa, Jose (Educational Policy Studies)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Educational Administration and Leadership
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Although global citizenship education programs, notably in Canada, are helpful, there are some issues to consider. Knowledge learnt at school does not ensure a positive change in students’ actions (Humes, 2008). Further, encounters between Western learning selves and perceived “others” may lead to colonial self-defence reactions (Taylor, 2012). Critical skills do not always make students have authentic engagement with others (Tarc, 2012). Tolerance and compassion, simply translated into the act of helping, do not significantly transform the world (Jefferess, 2012; Tarc, 2012). Respect for diversity seems shallow when not all people are believed to have equal worth (Andreotti, 2011). An analysis of these shortcomings reveals that they are the consequences of a dualistic sense of self and others. It is worth rethinking the notions of “self,” “global citizenship,” and “global citizenship education,” for a better world. I thought Buddhism might be helpful in this regard. Therefore, this research explored how the conceptions of “self” affected conceptions of “global citizenship” which in turn informed ideas for “global citizenship education,” from Buddhist perspectives. Eight Canadian teachers/educators participated in this research. Interviews were conducted to collect data, and a grounded theory technique was used to analyze the data. The findings suggested that self is not discrete and stable as it seems. Rather, self is infinite, interdependent, and empty. Although this emptiness was perceived to be mysterious, the results partly decoded it. Also, the discovery of the space of awakening in self was striking, indicating that any transformation, individual or social, is always possible. Features of the space of awakening were identified, including unconditional compassion and non-dual awareness. Next, grounded in this conception of self, global citizenship was not considered as a discrete thing. Thus, no generalized pattern was found. However, central to the Buddhist global citizenship is cultivating awakened compassion which was supposed to guide global citizens. In turn, the conceptions of self and global citizenship informed global citizenship education. As such, global citizenship education was supposed to be effective when it is grounded in the “space of awakening.” Remarkably, meditation was regarded as an essential skill in this education.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Nguyen, T. T. A. (2013). Towards skillful global citizenship education. Paideusis, 21(1), 26-38.

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