A Discussion of Buddhist Understandings of Global Citizenship Education

  • Author / Creator
    Nguyen, Truong AT
  • 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.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2015
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Educational Administration and Leadership
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Donlevy, Kent (Werklund School of Education)
    • Da Costa, Jose (Educational Policy Studies)
    • Shultz, Lynette (Educational Policy Studies)
    • Van Vliet, Jessica (Educational Psychology)
    • Snart, Fern (Educational Psychology)
    • Eppert, Claudia (Secondary Education)