Excerpted from the new ASCD published work by Veronica Boix Mansilla and Anthony W. Jackson:

It was a decade ago, at about this time of the year, that we were completing the manuscript for Educating for Global Competence: Preparing our Youth to Engage the World.  At the time, the world was calling upon educators to become more globally conscious, aware of our growing interdependence and mutual obligations within and beyond national borders.

Today, ten years later, we complete this second edition, writing from our homes. COVID-19 has put our global interdependence in full display—mask-covered faces, sanitized hands, heartbreaking news streams, distanced human interactions, hopes and fears of new vaccines.  The pandemic has shed light on unfathomable loss, harrowing inequities, and systemic forms of exclusion around the world that leave no-one untouched.  We find democratic institutions in need of repair, environmental vulnerabilities in need of attention and a call for renewed visions about the role of education in the construction of more sustainable, inclusive, and just societies.

Looking back, perhaps the brightest and most humbling consequence of our previous work has been its power to ground public conversations about the purpose of education in a globally interdependent world.  For some, the book was a reminder of a rapidly changing global stage and the need to rethink what we teach and how. Others resonated with the four dimensions of the global competence framework; how to nurture the capacity to investigate the world beyond one’s immediate environment, how to understand perspectives other than one’s own, how to communicate across differences, and how to take action to improve conditions.  Still others saw  an invitation to trust our young to tackle complex and ill-defined issues with the support of powerful pedagogies.  And some saw an opportunity to broaden their role beyond transmitters of fixed information to inquirers of the most pressing issues of our times.

As we re-enter the public sphere following multiple pandemics afflicting us—among these viruses, economic crises, racisms, xenophobias—one point is clear, enduring paradigm shifts in education rarely emerge from peace and prosperity. Much to the contrary, they typically represent visionary education responses to historical moments of reckoning.

Today is a such a moment of reckoning.  What we need for these times is a recalibrated vision of global competence as an aspiration for all youth This vision recognizes the role of values such as human dignity, inclusivity, equity, and sustainability as central to a globally informed education able to foster students’ cognitive, socio-emotional, ethical, and civic development.  A high-quality education for global competence is not a luxury destined for privileged youth. Rather we need to ensure it reaches our most vulnerable families, children and youth, helping them to understand the increasingly complex, dynamic and diverse world in which they live and the local and global dynamics shaping their lives.

We hope our new book will inspire readers to contribute to a more human, kinder, inclusive and global educational paradigm that takes to heart the question, What kinds of societies do we seek? —one that views the daily educational practice in our schools, cultural institutions, families and communities as pivotal in the construction of a shared future.

Written by: Dr. Anthony W. Jackson, Vice President for Education and Director of the Center for Global Education at Asia Society (retired), Advisor to Community Catalyst Partners