Global Citizenship Education and Human Rights Education: Are They Compatible With U. S. Civic Education?


  • William Robert Fernekes Rutgers Graduate School of Education


global citizenship education, human rights education, civic education


Global citizenship education (GCE) and human rights education (HRE) offer substantive contributions to civic education.  Interconnections between the fields exist in curricula from intergovernmental organizations (UNESCO), non-governmental organizations (Oxfam Great Britain) and national ministries (Learning and Teaching Scotland).  This essay explores how civic education curricula, learning outcomes, and teacher preparation can be developed to enhance the roles played by GCE and HRE in U. S. civic education. GCE and HRE are defined, GCE and HRE aspects of recent curriculum models are examined, and challenges for integrating GCE and HRE into social studies education are discussed.

Key findings

1.  Global citizenship education programs share a philosophy of cosmopolitanism; commitments to universal human rights norms; respect for cultural diversity and sustainable development; and issues-based curriculum designs.

2.  A high degree of compatibility exists between GCE program goals and the goals of the values-awareness-socialization HRE model.  This strong compatibility does not extend to the accountability-professional development or the activism-transformation models of HRE.

3. Implementing GCE faces major obstacles, notably emphases on national identity in nation-state civic education, the potential incompatibility between national interests and cosmopolitan commitments in the study of global issues, and the low commitment to GCE or HRE in teacher preparation.

Author Biography

William Robert Fernekes, Rutgers Graduate School of Education

Part-time lecturer, Rutgers Graduate School of Education 

Department of Educational Theory, Policy and Administration