International Association of Educators   |  ISSN: 2834-7919   |  e-ISSN: 1554-5210

Volume 8 Issue 3 (October 2012)

Issue Information

Special Issue: Education for Active Citizenship

pp. i - vi



Short Communications

Editorial: Education for Active Citizenship: Practices, Policies, Promises

Alistair Ross

pp. 7 - 14



Original Articles

The University as a Public Good: Active citizenship and university community engagement

Jason Wood

pp. 15 - 31


Education for active citizenship has been a key development in social policy over the past two decades, leading to a number of initiatives that have sought to strengthen political, social and moral literacy. This paper briefly reviews the UK policy context by situating this within communitarian definitions of citizenship. Despite the growth of initiatives designed to promote active citizenship, there has been comparatively little focus on the role of universities in addressing locally based civic, social and political challenges. Drawing on literature and a case-study of an innovative university community engagement project, this paper investigates to what extent universities can – and should – play a more active role in their local communities. In doing so, the paper argues that a potential ‗public good‘ value of universities can emerge.

Keywords: University community engagement; citizenship; civic education; service learning

Promoting “Active Citizens”? The Critical Vision of NGOs over Citizenship Education as an Educational Priority across Europe

Ana Bela Ribeiro, Mariana Rodrigues, Andreia Caetano, Sofia Pais, & Isabel Menezes

pp. 32 - 47


In the last decades, Citizenship Education (CE) has been at the forefront of both educational policies and international research regarding curriculum design and impact on pupils‘ knowledge, values and skills. However, not only what citizenship ―is‖ is diversely conceived by different democratic traditions (Eisenstadt, 2000; Heater, 1999) but, obviously, CE also involves organisations beyond the walls of schools. This paper confronts educational policies with the views of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in 20 European countries. Results suggest that the vision of CE as a priority in educational policy documents is questioned by NGOs that consider schools are too focused on formal democracy and overemphasize respect for rules, values and responsibilities, rather than promoting critical, informed and active citizens. Especially in countries with an authoritarian past, NGOs consider that models of conformism and submission are still dominant, and emphasize the role of CE in promoting a strong civil society.

Keywords: citizenship education, educational policies, non-governmental organisations

Promoting Active Citizenship through the arts and youth: Canadian Youth-Led Organizations as Beacons of Hope and Transformation

Brad J. Porfilio, & Julie A. Gorlewski

pp. 48 - 61


This essay details the pedagogical and cultural work of two youth-led organizations situated  in Canada - Beat Nation and 411 Initiative for Change. Through the narratives generated by interviews with several of the organizations' artists and founders, the organizations‘ pedagogical work generated in cyberspace, and through artists' music, multi-media presentations, and speaking engagements in schools across Canada, we build on the critical project of reconceptualizing how youth express their awareness of what gives rise to salient social issues, such as racism, violence, environmental degradation, poverty, and gender inequalities, and how they work actively with other citizens to extend social and political rights for all. Youth-led organizations such as 411 for Change and Beat Nation seek to change the discursive realities and possibilities of hip hop by exercising it as a means of critical pedagogy. This approach supports the educational goals related to active citizenship, including solidarity, valuing the identities of minoritized populations, and a sense of belonging. We argue the organizations promote active citizenship by working to eliminate oppression confronting the global community, by guiding youth to understand the reasons for social inequality as well as the importance of working collectively to challenge injustice, and by embracing pro-social values and dispositions consistent with democracy, fairness, and equity.

Keywords: youth-led organizations, active citizenship, critical pedagogy

Implications of Community Activism among Urban Minority Young People for Education for Engaged and Critical Citizenship

Chaebong Nam

pp. 62 - 76


Citizenship is fundamentally defined by praxis--i.e., engagement in local and diverse forms of civic practices--rather than by a legal status tied to the nation-state (Tully, 2008). This study examined the participatory democracy practices of a community activist group that was organizing to resist gentrification in a Puerto Rican community in Chicago in the U.S. In  order to preserve their Puerto Rican community and build a grassroots democracy practice, the young activists involved themselves in a variety of community issues, ranging across political, socio-cultural, and educational domains. Noticeably, they worked to engage local youth in community events and in the process of production and distribution of local information. This helped the youth to learn about important community issues, as well as Puerto Rican history and culture, which had not been taught in local public schools. Such intergenerational and holistic educational activities not only produced new young leaders but in fact created a pipeline of community leadership. Their efforts present a useful educational model of engaged and critical citizenship, demonstrating the unique contributions of learning beyond the classroom.

Keywords: Community activism, Urban minority youth, Critical citizenship

Scales of active citizenship: New Zealand teachers‟ diverse perceptions and practices

Bronwyn Elisabeth Wood

pp. 77 - 93


The heightened focus on ‗active‘ citizenship in New Zealand‘s current curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007) mirrors a pattern observed in many nation‘s curricula in the past decade. The scale of active citizenship in this curriculum includes an expectation that students will participate in local and national communities but also extends to participation in ‗global communities‘. Recognising that citizenship is a hotly contested concept, how do teaching departments, as collective curriculum ‗gatekeepers‘, understand, interpret and enact such curriculum requirements? This paper describes the perceptions and practices toward active citizenship of New Zealand social studies teachers (n=27) from four differing geographic and socio-economic secondary school communities. This study reveals significant differences in the scale of teachers‘citizenship orientations with lower socio-economic school communities prioritising locally-focused citizenship and higher socio-economic communities favouring national and global orientations. Applying a Bourdieusian analysis, the author posits that  these diverse perceptions and practices are socially and culturally constituted and reinforced by the shared doxa within school communities. Understanding these differing perceptions   of ‗active‘ citizenship is essential to gain more nuanced perspectives on how citizenship education is enacted and practised in classrooms.

Keywords: Active citizenship, curriculum, citizenship education, Bourdieu, doxa, scales of citizenship

Becoming citizens through school experience: A case study of democracy in practice

Max A. Hope

pp. 94 - 108


This paper offers a critique of current definitions of active citizenship and argues that children and young people need to be seen as citizens within their school communities and not just citizens of the future. Pedagogy and school decision-making should reflect the aims of active citizenship and thus engage children and young people as active participants within their school communities. This requires a radical change to the way in which many schools are currently structured and organised. A case study of a small democratic school is used as an illustration of an exemplary model of education for active citizenship. This school does not offer citizenship as a curriculum subject nor explicitly aim for active citizenship – and yet active citizenship is integral to its ethos, values, structures, processes and pedagogy. Throughout the paper, it is suggested that democratic schooling is not just one way – but the best way – of providing education for active citizenship.

Keywords: Democratic education, active citizenship, experiential learning, critical thinking, citizenship schools

Islamophobia, conflict and citizenship

Sally Inman, Pip Mc Cormack, & Sarah Walker

pp. 109 - 127


This article discusses some preliminary findings of the English part of a European Commission Fundamental Rights and Citizenship funded project 'Children's Voices' (2011- 2013) concerned with exploring and understanding children and young people's experiences  of interethnic conflict and violence in primary and secondary schools. This is a comparative study of England, Slovenia, Cyprus, Austria and Italy and the English focus is on Islamophobia. The research comprises a review of literature, legislation and good practice in race equality in England; a quantitative study of 8 primary schools (year 5/6) and 8 Secondary schools/sixth form centres (year 12/13) in 4 regions of England; a qualitative study of pupils and adults in 4 schools in one region and interview material from semi structured interviews with a range of 'experts' in the area. The article outlines some of the research findings from the first quantitative stage of the research. It argues that in schools with a strong citizenship ethos, where different religions are respected and where there are strong institutional processes and procedures against discriminatory practices, Islamophobia and conflict are not likely to be an issue, however, the same cannot be said for the wider society.

Keywords: Religion, Islamophobia, conflict, citizenship

Activating Citizenship – the nation‟s use of education to create notions of identity and citizenship in south Asia

Shreya Ghosh

pp. 128 - 139


Identity in south Asia was anchored by, on the one end, community, and on the other, an appreciation of sub-continental (geographical and cultural) space. People, historically, drew their identity as part of communities, which in turn existed in continuity to each-other in the seamless regional expanse of south Asia. Imagination as nationals - a post-colonial construct - faced contestations, both, from community affiliations and spatial imagination contrary to the territorial  - modular  form of  nation-state.  As  a response, the  state fabricated the     idea  of ‗patriotic-citizen‘ and used nationalist historiography to create citizens who are taught to believe the nation as prime-marker of self-definition and act like soldiers, guarding national identity against alternative imaginations. Education has become the most potent devise through which this is achieved. The article, on the basis of textbook narratives in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, would demonstrate (i) how educational practices build a militarist idea of citizenship and, (ii) in doing so co-opts the demands of community by showing the nation as vindication of community-aspirations and on the other hand erasing conceptualisation of a south Asian space from cognitive maps of its subjects. The idea of ‗active‘ citizenship understands ‗active‘ as responsible citizenship, emphasising a right based discourse. On the contrary education in south Asia is used to ‗activate‘ citizenship which is relational in content - based on ideas of ‗us‘ versus ‗them‘ – instead of allowing critical understanding of rights and identities.

Keywords: Active citizenship, identity, South Asia

Establishing a general framework civic competency for European youth

Joseph Chow

pp. 140 - 150


This paper proposes a project that aims to construct a general framework of civic competency that will help understand civic competence as a blended measure of civic knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, beliefs, behavioural intentions and behaviours. By distinguishing between civic potential, civic behaviour and civic outcomes, with empirical datasets from the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) on 14 year-old European students, the framework will describe how these constructs are related and measured, and show their impact on future civic competence and active citizenship. In this project, by considering the effect of different social, political and cultural contexts, the framework will accommodate measures of civic dimensions that are common to all societies as well as those specific to particular societies and regions. This will challenge the quest for a universal model for civic competence. Given that cultivating civically competent citizens ready for active citizenship is an important educational outcome for many educational systems, this paper has the potential to expand understanding of citizenship, citizenship education and the relation of the two.

Keywords: Civic competency, European youth, citizenship education, civic knowledge

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