If you happened to take a stroll across Stirling University Campus a windy Monday afternoon mid-January, peeking through the window of a medium-sized conference room, you might have spotted a tall man in a blazer in deep discussion with four other people around a table full of pictures, post-its and coffee cups. You might also have had a glimpse of a kind looking woman eagerly gesticulating while explaining something to two attentive listeners. Or one of the other 20 seminar participants - all preoccupied and busy exploring the role of Critical Global Citizenship Education within marginalized and disadvantaged communities in the Global North.

What you wouldn’t have experienced from the outside was the buzzing atmosphere in the conference room, the debts of the discussions and the impressive pool of knowledge shared by participants from Scotland, Denmark, Finland, Germany, England and Ireland at the two-day seminar.

So why did these people travel all the way to Scotland to spend two days together? First and foremost in order to elucidate shared themes relevant to all contexts as a basis for pursuing collaborative research and knowledge exchange funding and to support wider engagement on these issues.

To set a framework for the seminar the following two seminar questions were shared prior to the event:

1. How does critical global citizenship education support children living in marginalized and/or disadvantaged communities in the Global North to experience their formal education as relevant, empowering and transformative?

2. How does critical global citizenship education help address deficit models, within research, policy and practice, driving educational interventions in marginalized and disadvantaged communities in the Global North?

Throughout the seminar participants contributed with a series of presentations addressing the two seminar questions, identifying challenges and exchanging opinions.

A few of the themes touched upon were the production and reproduction of knowledge, the reinforcement of dominant assumptions, paternalism and power and privilege. Other topics discussed were the need to reframe the narrative of how we build sustainable, inclusive communities and how global citizenship education can provide a framework to develop this new understanding. The question of the interplay between research, practice and policy was also brought up during the seminar. It was pointed out how we have to keep focus on the reality for people engaged in global citizenship education in the Global North, posing the challenge of how to make research count in practice. The question of how research can influence or change policy making in Europe and in national contexts was discussed at length.

It was argued that in order to open people’s eyes to the realities of the world it is necessary to foster a questioning stance and criticality so that situations and problems can be approached from a range of perspectives and stances. Exposing children and youth to global citizenship education means to understand how schooling has become disengaged from the community life and how the sense of belonging is promoted.

Global organisations shape and drive public policy regarding education at the international level. Mechanisms of funding dictates what attention is being paid to and what not and shape the discourse. Education is not positioned as a value and worth in its own right but to an end – serving the economy. The dominance of the OECD has led to homogeneity in education policy across nations, competing within international league tables, not considering cultural or historical influences. Global citizenship education can play a key role in helping teachers to engage with these issues.

In addition to the presentations, participants got the opportunity to get know each other through small exercises and group discussions. All the work and debates led to the identification of the following four key themes which set the framework for further reflections on the second day of the seminar:

1. How to move effectively between research, practice and policy in order to impact within the crisis period making vision real.

2. How to realise empowerment and exploration within education within “disadvantaged” contexts.

3. Prioritising belonging and communities in education – local flourishing / global solidarity.

4. Examining the relationship between the education space and the campaigning space.

The two inspiring, intense and wonderful days in Stirling went by fast, but discussions will be continued at the second seminar in Copenhagen in May.

Bridge 47 would like to thank the participants who came from wide and large for reflection and debate on critical global citizenship education, sharing generously their time and knowledge towards contributing to the advance of SDG4 in Europa and abroad.

The seminar was organised by Bridge 47 and EADI together with the Liverpool World Centre, the University of Stirling, MUNDU Denmark and IDEAS Scotland. It was coordinated by Andrea Bullivant.

Present at the seminar:

Corinne Angier (University of Stirling), Carly Bagelman (Liverpool Hope University), Alan Britton (Education Scotland), Mathilda Bruckner (Danish School of Education, Aarhus University), Andrea Bullivant (Livelpool World Centre/Bridge 47), Liz Curtis (University of Aberdeen), Eleanor Dillon (Bridge 47), Ria Dunkley (University of Glasgow), Charlotte Dwyer (Scotdec), Gabriel Echeverria (Centro de la Cooperazione Internazionale), Emma Guion Akdag (University of Stirling), Karen Hagelskaer (MUNDU/Bridge 47), Frances Hunt (University College London), Nanna Jordt Jørgensen (University College Copenhagen), Su-ming Khoo (National University of Ireland Galway), Antti Kylänpää (University of Tampere), Kate Lesenger (Bridge 47, Scotland), Jonas Andreasen Lysgaard (Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, Campus Copenhagen), Jem Milton (Illustrator), Joan Mowat (University of Strathclyde), Karen Pashby (Manchester Metropolitan University), Antti Rajala (University of Helsinki), Keri Reid (University of Stirling), Benjamin Stewart (German Development Institute), Dalene Swanson (University of Stirling), Talia Vela-Eiden (EADI/Bridge 47), Tanya Wisely (Oxfam Scotland).