Global Citizenship Education and the Six Dimensions: A Framework for Global Unity and Sustainable Futures for All

Global citizenship refers to a sense of belonging to a common humanity and shared responsibility for a sustainable and peaceful world. Global citizenship education harnesses the transformative potential of education to empower learners with the competencies necessary to appreciate our local-global interconnectedness, become critically engaged in complex human challenges, including social and environmental justice issues, and take action to advance global unity and sustainable futures for all. Linked to global citizenship are six interrelated dimensions: discovery, defining core values, diplomacy, decision making, development, and design thinking.




Discovery of self and others is an essential step in understanding our relationship with the world. Children first form their identity by recognizing the qualities, preferences, and abilities that make them unique. Then, as they discover who they are and develop relationships outside of the family, children gradually notice the differences between themselves and others. They learn that there are many ways of being and come to realize that they can also have multiple identities based on their culture, language, and religion.

Moving from self to others broadens our perspectives on the world around us and helps to develop important interpersonal skills such as caring, kindness, and compassion. Discovery of self and others is not only a critical developmental stage that begins when we are born, but it is a lifelong process that continues to unfold as we grow and encounter greater diversity in our schools, communities, and workplaces. As children are able to accept a multiplicity of perspectives and embrace diversity, their capacity for empathy grows.



Diplomacy is the ability to interact with others in a way that uses sensitivity, promotes trust and respect, and builds mutual understanding. It is a relationship-based approach which supports open and effective dialogue and enhances collaboration and cooperation. Although diplomacy is often thought of as a craft that is only used by adults, primarily in international relations, in recent years it has been recognized that the foundational skills of diplomacy, such as negotiation and conflict resolution, can be learned early in life as an appropriate and meaningful way to respond the opinions of others while at the same time asserting or reflecting your own ideas back in a thoughtful but productive manner. In today’s world, there is an urgent need for schools to ensure that children are grounded in skills that help them to work together collaboratively, productively, and peacefully. Therefore, not only can children be taught the skills of diplomacy, but entire schools can embrace diplomacy as a critical element of the school culture.



The social and economic development of our world is inextricably intertwined with human development. There can be no human future if we do not attend to the development of our neighborhoods, communities, and nations, and all the complex social, economic, political, and environmental issues that impact the quality of life for the people of our planet. We no longer live in a world that separates and disconnects us one from the other. In today’s interconnected and interdependent world, local issues are connected to global issues and global issues are connected to local issues. More than at any other time of human history, children have a distinct understanding of the relationship between all peoples. Helping children to learn about the development of the world they live in begins with helping them to learn about their community. This is the world that they inhabit daily. As children grow and develop, they have the ability to expand their understanding of the greater world in which they live, the world of nations. Schools have the responsibility to sensitively and in developmentally appropriately ways encourage children to learn about the challenges that the world faces, to consider the connectedness of local to global issues, and to inspire critical thinking and action in response to these challenges.


Defining Core Values

Core values are the deeply ingrained principles that guide our behavior and actions and help us decipher right from wrong. As children grow, it is critical that they begin to develop a sense of their own core values. In a constantly changing and complex world, children’s core values can serve as a guide that helps them move forward in life and engage in their workplace and community. Core values may not be identical from culture to culture, but beneficial core values are generally those that have a positive impact on a person’s ability to function optimally within their community and on the well-being of society as a whole. UNESCO highlights justice, equality, dignity, and respect as universal values. These and others, including responsibility, honesty, dependability, loyalty, and compassion, are values that are commonly accepted by the global community as supporting human development and human dignity.


Decision Making

Decision making is the process of making choices by setting goals, gathering information, and evaluating potential outcomes. Decision making is a critical life skill and one of the most important skills children acquire as they grow into healthy and productive adults. The development of decision making skills is an incremental process based on children’s age and stage of development. Encouraging children to examine information critically and to make decisions based upon credible information sources helps children to be more confident, increases their self-esteem, and nurtures their sense of autonomy. Schools can help children gain experience with making decisions through participatory and active learning approaches and by educating them about the decision-making process. Today, the scope and breadth of information available to children is quite vast. Technology allows access to new ideas, research, and information from around the world which can make decision making more challenging. It is therefore even more imperative that children are taught how to be skilled decision makers.


Design Thinking

Design thinking is a methodology for innovation that can be used to solve complex challenges, ranging from the global to the local, including those faced by children in their daily experiences. It draws upon imagination, empathy, and creativity to examine others’ perspectives and respond to human needs. The stages of design thinking provide children with ways to employ divergent thinking to ensure that many possible solutions are considered and then convergent thinking to narrow down solutions to an effective option. When used to solve human-centered challenges, such as environmental issues, design thinking explores the possibilities of what could be and the actions needed to create a preferred future. Forecasting for the future is a key element of design thinking and increasingly important in our rapidly changing world. What’s more—children who engage in design thinking begin to understand the power of their actions and ability to enact positive change in their schools, communities, nations, and world.

Human rights constitute the common language of humanity that teach us in a direct, straightforward manner that we are at the same time identical and different.
— Boutros Boutros-Ghali, UN World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, 1993