Applying Deweyan Principles to Global Citizenship Education in a Rural Context


  • Robert A. Waterson West Virginia University
  • Eric D Moffa West Virginia University


global citizenship education, rural education, social studies curriculum, John Dewey, community-based learning, social learning, democracy education



Global citizenship education (GCE) helps students conceptualize citizenship beyond national boundaries so they are capable of action in dealing with global issues like human rights and environmental sustainability. However, very little literature exists to assist rural teachers in implementing GCE as they face specific challenges due to the context of their schools. This paper identifies challenges rural educators encounter, such as conservative communities and geographic isolation, and details a Deweyan approach to GCE as a means to overcome these challenges. Specifically, we apply Dewey’s democratic and social learning theories to reconceptualize GCE around student, family, and community life to foster a more relevant curriculum that utilizes students’ experiences (Dewey, 1897, 1902, 1938, 1916/2008). It emphasizes the utmost respect for local customs and culture by using them as sources of content for the curriculum while simultaneously extending citizenship thoughts and actions to the global arena. 

Author Biography

Robert A. Waterson, West Virginia University

Associate Professor

Department of Curriculum and Instruction