ChapterPDF Available

Civic Engagement through Work-Integrated Learning: Reflections from Community-Based Research on Social Grants in South Africa

Authors:

Abstract

This chapter will advance the argument that Work Integrated Learning (WIL) can reinforce active citizenship as illustrated with an example from the South African context. WIL is an approach that holds that students will learn better in a program that integrates theoretical knowledge in the classroom with practical knowledge in the workplace. While WIL is not inherently orientated towards building active citizenship, the strategic use of WIL can result in learning outcomes very similar to civic engagement pedagogy, particularly when conceptualized as a collaborative and participatory form of community-based research. This claim is demonstrated through reflection on a research project conducted by master's candidates at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa, in conjunction with a human rights NGO, the Black Sash. The research required students, supported by Black Sash field-workers, to run participatory workshops in various poor communities to explore the impact of the privatization of the social grant payment system in South Africa. We show how the project reinforced the ideas and practices of active citizenship for the students involved and for the fieldworkers from Black Sash with whom they worked. Thus, while not intrinsic to WIL, active citizenship can be built through the strategic use of WIL programs to conduct community-based research or community engagement activities.
TEACHING CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
GLOBALLY
ELIZABETH C. MATTO
ALISON RIOS MILLETT MCCARTNEY
ELIZABETH A. BENNION
ALASDAIR BLAIR
TAIYI SUN
DAWN MICHELE WHITEHEAD
EDITED BY
AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION
TEACHING CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
GLOBALLY
ELIZABETH C. MATTO
ALISON RIOS MILLETT MCCARTNEY
ELIZABETH A. BENNION
ALASDAIR BLAIR
TAIYI SUN
DAWN MICHELE WHITEHEAD
AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION
Designed by Henry E. Chen
Photo Credits
Cover: Designed by Henry E. Chen. Background image: Chris Gorgio/Getty; Inside the globe from top
left to bottom right: Woman presenting (Weedezign/Getty); Black Lives Matter protest (Chris Henry/
Unsplash); University students (Nadasaki/Getty); Students (KanchitDon/Getty); Protester (Jacoblund/
Getty); Students (Fizkes/Getty); Parkland vigil (Matthew Botha/Getty); Students raising hands (Drazen
Zigic/Getty); Smiling student (Wavebreakmedia/Getty); Section I photograph (KanchitDon/Getty);
Section II photograph (Drazen Zigic/Getty); Section III photograph (Fizkes/Getty); Section IV photograph:
Madeleine Meyer, Taryn Painter, Connor Cameron, and Lewis Laury (Alexander Wright, Towson University).
Copyright © 2021 by the American Political Science Association
1527 New Hampshire Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
All rights reserved.
ISBN (Soft Cover): 978-1-878147-64-6
ISBN (Fixed Layout ePUB): 978-1-878147-65-3
For teacher-scholars in all parts of the world engaged in the important work of
teaching democratic citizenship.
Table of Contents
Section I: Global Civic Engagement Education:
Ideas, Directions, Collaborations
Preface
Steven Rathgeb Smith .................................................................................................................................. xi
Foreword
Lynn Pasquerella ........................................................................................................................................ xiii
Acknowledgements .......................................................................................................................................... xv
Introduction
Alasdair Blair and Alison Rios Millett McCartney ........................................................................................... 3
1 | Stop Training Global Political Hobbyists! Teaching Students How to Be Engaged Global
Citizens Through Transnational Women’s Activism
Candice D. Ortbals, J. Cherie Strachan, Lori Poloni-Staudinger,
Debora Lopreite, and Celia Valiente .......................................................................................................... 17
2 | The University as a Civic Agent: Promoting Civic Engagement and the UN SDGs in
Northeastern Brazil
Xaman Minillo and Henrique Zeferino de Menezes .............................................................................. 37
3 | Importing Civic Education into Authoritarian China
Taiyi Sun ....................................................................................................................................................... 53
4 | Conceptualizing Civic Education and Engagement in Less Liberal Contexts
Catherine Shea Sanger and Wei Lit Yew .................................................................................................. 73
5 | Challenge, Advocacy, and Renewal: The Development of Civic Engagement Education in
the United Kingdom
John Craig ...................................................................................................................................................... 95
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
vi
Section II: Civic Engagement Pedagogy Across the
Globe
Introduction
Elizabeth C. Matto and Taiyi Sun ........................................................................................................... 113
6 | Using Drawings to Understand Undergraduates’ Perceptions of Civic Engagement Across
Countries – Ireland and Egypt
Sharon Feeney and John Hogan .............................................................................................................. 117
7 | Taking a Structural Approach to Civic Education in Aotearoa New Zealand
Emily Beausoleil and Claire Timperley .................................................................................................. 133
8 | Teaching Group-Oriented Foreign Policy Analysis for Civic Engagement
Dmitry A. Lanko ........................................................................................................................................ 149
9 | Youth Civic Engagement in Developing Countries: Lessons from Belize and Guatemala
Gerardo Berthin ......................................................................................................................................... 167
10 | Students Teaching Democracy to Other Students: The Effects on Political Engagement
Theodore Chadjipadelis and Georgia Panagiotidou ............................................................................ 185
Section III: Creating Institutions for Civic
Engagement Education
Introduction
Elizabeth A. Bennion and Dawn Michele Whitehead ......................................................................... 207
11 | Can We Get an Upgrade? How Two College Campuses Are Building the Democracy We
Aspire to Be
Suzanne M. Chod, Abraham Goldberg, William Muck, Dena Pastor, and Carah Ong Whaley .. 209
12 | Re-centering Global Civic Engagement through a Critical Lens: A Collaborative Center
Approach
Nicole Webster ............................................................................................................................................ 227
13 | Civic Engagement and the Global Liberal Arts College: Empowering Students through
Immersive Curriculum, Interactive Pedagogy, Experiential Learning, and Residential
Education
Catherine Shea Sanger and Wei Lit Yew ................................................................................................ 239
14 | Studying Community and Development in The Gambia and Senegal: A Case Study of the
Initial Offering of a Unique Course
Aminata Sillah and Donn Worgs ............................................................................................................ 263
Table of Contents vii
15 | In a Democracy We Must Act! Theatre as a Tool for Developing Civic Engagement
Xaman Minillo and Mariana Pimenta Oliveira Baccarini ................................................................. 279
16 | Civic Engagement through Work-Integrated Learning: Reflections from Community-
Based Research on Social Grants in South Africa
Laurence Piper, Sondré Bailey, and Robyn Pasensie ........................................................................... 295
17 | Can Volunteering on “Real World” Issues Influence Political Engagement Among Young
People? A UK Case Study
Mark Charlton and Alasdair Blair .......................................................................................................... 311
Section IV: Civic Engagement Pedagogy Across the
Globe
Introduction
Alison Rios Millett McCartney and Elizabeth C. Matto ..................................................................... 331
18 | How to Prepare Teachers to Teach Civic Engagement? Insights from a German University
B. Philipp Kleer and Johannes Diesing .................................................................................................. 341
19 | “My Participation is Often Dismissed”: How Vocational School Students Participate in
Society
Niina Meriläinen ....................................................................................................................................... 359
20 | Challenges of Civic Education in Non-Western Countries: A Vignette from Mauritius
Shantal Kaurooa and Sheetal Sheena Sookrajowa .............................................................................. 375
21 | A Global Advance in Civic Engagement
Dick Simpson .............................................................................................................................................. 381
Bibliography ...................................................................................................................................................... 391
About the Authors ........................................................................................................................................... 437
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
viii
List of Tables and Figures
Chapter 2
Table 1. Human Development Index (HDI) of Brazilian Locations Compared to Other Countries ........ 39
Table 2. Trainings Offered to the Public Sector ............................................................................................... 44
Table 3. Trainings Offered to the Private Sector and Social Responsibility Institutions ........................... 45
Chapter 3
Figure 1. The Relationships Between Different Modules Discussed in this Study ..................................... 59
Figure 2. Changes in Trust ................................................................................................................................... 64
Figure 3. Changes in Norms of Reciprocity ....................................................................................................... 65
Figure 4. Changes in Civic Engagement ............................................................................................................. 65
Figure 5. Changes in Trust for Female Participants ......................................................................................... 66
Figure 6. Changes in Norms of Reciprocity for Female Participants ............................................................ 66
Figure 7. Changes in Civic Engagement for Female Participants .................................................................. 67
Chapter 5
Table 1. Examples of Civic Engagement Initiatives at UK Universities ..................................................... 105
Chapter 6
Table 1. Frequency of Themes Contained in Drawings, by Classroom Setting .......................................... 122
Figure 1. Irish Student Drawing Sample 1 ....................................................................................................... 123
Figure 2. Irish Student Drawing Sample 2 ....................................................................................................... 124
Figure 3. Egyptian Student Drawing Sample 1 ............................................................................................... 125
Figure 4. Egyptian Student Drawing Sample 2 ............................................................................................... 126
Chapter 7
Table 1. Student Summative Reflections, Submitted As Final Assessment for the Course ..................... 139
Table 2. Student Responses 18 months and 6 Months After Completion of Course ................................ 140
Chapter 8
Table 1. Scoring Students’ Performance During the Think Tank Simulation .......................................... 156
Table 2. Student Participants in One-Day Role Play, 2008–2019 ................................................................ 159
Table 3. Meetings Held During Role-Plays, 2008–2019 ............................................................................... 160
Chapter 9
Figure 1. Selected Comments Made By Participants in the Evaluation ...................................................... 174
Table 1. Profile of Social Audit Workshops Participants (by Gender and Average Age) .......................... 176
Figure 2. Why Do You Think That Young People of Your Age Don’t Participate in Civic Activities? .... 177
Figure 3. In a Scale from 1–4, Where 1 is Low and 4 High, How Would You Grade Your Level of
Knowledge with Regard to the Following Topics? (In %) .......................................................... 177
Table 2. Feedback Provided by Workshop Participants in Their Evaluations ........................................... 178
Table of Contents ix
Chapter 10
Table 1. Demographics of Respondents ............................................................................................................ 191
Table 2. Variables ................................................................................................................................................. 192
Table 3. Comparing Groups on Left-Right Scale ............................................................................................ 193
Table 4. Political Interest Frequency Distribution ........................................................................................ 194
Table 5. Political Knowledge Frequency Distribution .................................................................................. 194
Table 6. Political Mobilization Frequency Distribution ............................................................................... 195
Table 7. Eight (8) Clusters of Respondents Based on the Source They Choose to Get Informed About
Politics ................................................................................................................................................. 196
Table 8. Eight (8) Clusters of Respondents Regarding the Way They Perceive Democracy .................... 196
Figure 1. Pictures for Democracy Perception ................................................................................................... 197
Figure 2. Pictures for Personal Values .............................................................................................................. 197
Table 9. Nine (9) Clusters of Respondents Regarding Their Concept of Personal Values ....................... 197
Figure 3. Map Visualization of the Positions of Variables ............................................................................ 198
Table 10. Groups And Variables Clustered Jointly. Behavioral Patterns of Each Group are Distinct .... 199
Chapter 12
Table 1. A Framework of Understanding Critical Global Service-Learning Experiences ....................... 234
Chapter 13
Table 1. Summary of Findings ........................................................................................................................... 257
Chapter 14
Table 1. Learning Outcomes .............................................................................................................................. 268
Chapter 15
Table 1. The Activities with the Community in the 2018 Cycle ................................................................... 286
Table 2. The Activities with the Community in the 2019 Cycle .................................................................... 287
Table 3. Online Lectures Organized by the Participating Students in the 2020 Cycle ............................. 288
Chapter 17
Table 1. #BeTheChange events ......................................................................................................................... 315
Figure 1. How Frequently Have You Voted in Local and National Elections Since You Were Allowed to
Vote? .................................................................................................................................................... 318
Figure 2. How Often Did You Undertake the Following Activities Before the Be The Change
Events? ................................................................................................................................................ 318
Figure 3. How Often Do You Now Undertake the Following Activities Since the Be The Change
Events? ................................................................................................................................................ 318
Figure 4. How Often Did You Undertake the Following Activities Before the Be The Change
Events? ................................................................................................................................................ 319
Figure 5. How Often Do You Now Undertake the Following Activities Since the Be The Change
Events? ................................................................................................................................................ 319
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
x
Figure 6. How Much Attention Did (Do) You Pay to Political Issues Before and After Volunteering with
Refugees? ............................................................................................................................................. 320
Figure 7. How Often Did You Undertake the Following Activities Before Volunteering with
Refugees? ............................................................................................................................................. 321
Figure 8. How Often Do You Now Undertake the Following Activities
Since Volunteering with Refugees? .................................................................................................. 321
Figure 9. How Often Did (Do) You Discuss Political Issues with Your Family and Friends Before and
After Volunteering with Refugees? .................................................................................................. 322
Figure 10. How Would You Rate the Impact of Volunteering with Refugees on Your Political
Participation? ...................................................................................................................................... 323
Chapter 18
Figure 1. Process of Teacher Education in Hesse ............................................................................................ 343
Figure 2. Example of Sample Division ............................................................................................................. 346
Figure 3. Political Interest, Frequencies (in Percentages) ............................................................................ 348
Figure 4. Political Knowledge, Frequencies (in Percentages) ...................................................................... 348
Table 1. Political Interest and Political Knowledge, Comparison of Central Tendency .......................... 349
Figure 5. “A Country Needs a Democratic System,” Frequencies (in Percentages) ................................. 349
Figure 6. “A Single Leader Should Make the Decisions Without Bothering By Parliament or Elections,”
Frequencies (in Percentages) ........................................................................................................... 350
Figure 7. “Experts Should Make the Decisions Instead of the Government,”
Frequencies (in Percentages) ........................................................................................................... 350
Table 2. “Democracy in General,” “Expert Decisions,” “Single Leader,
Comparison of Central Tendency .................................................................................................... 350
Figure 8. “Civil Rights Defend Citizens from State Oppression,” Frequencies (in Percentages) ........... 351
Figure 9. “Citizens Should Vote the Government in Free Elections,” Frequencies (in Percentages) ..... 351
Figure 10. Citizens Should Obey Their Government,” Frequencies (in Percentages)............................. 352
Figure 11. “Women Should Have the Same Rights as Men,” Frequencies (in Percentages) ................... 352
Figure 12. “If Jobs are Scarce, Men Should Get Jobs Rather Than Women,”
Frequencies (in Percentages) ........................................................................................................... 353
Table 3. “Civil Rights,” “Free Elections,” “Obedience to Government,” “General Gender Equality,”
“Instrumental Gender Equality,” Comparison of Central Tendency ......................................... 353
Chapter 21
Figure 1. A Growing Democracy Gap: 15 Years of Decline ............................................................................. 382
Preface
Steven Rathgeb Smith
American Political Science Association
In recent years, political polarization has been increasing in many countries around the
world. Moreover, threats to democracy and key political institutions are on the rise. Social
media has also allowed the spread of misinformation, further undermining the democratic
process. Authoritarian political leaders have in turn taken advantage of a chaotic political
environment to push through policies that centralize power and reduce the accountability
and transparency of government. Given the volatility and unpredictability of different countries’
politics, active citizenship becomes increasingly important for the future of democracy and good
governance. Citizens participating in their communities through the electoral process and civil
society organizations are critical to the building of social capital and effective public policies. This
active citizenship requires comprehensive and informed civic education from elementary and
secondary schools through higher education institutions. This widespread interest and support
for civic education is also reflected in the current legislation in the US Congress entitled Civics
Secures Democracy Act; if passed, this legislation would authorize the funding for civic education
throughout the country.
Civic education is central to the mission of political science as a major social science discipline.
Political science courses provide essential instruction on the critical elements of a democracy, the
structure of government, the electoral process, and local community organizations. Moreover, po-
litical scientists through their teaching promote civic engagement and encourage students to con-
sider participating in their local community and the public sphere more generally. Many political
science courses also directly connect students to local public and nonprofit organizations engaged
in their local communities. In recent years, political scientists have been increasingly active in sup-
porting the civic engagement of their students and more broadly their local communities. Many
political scientists are also very active in conducting research and innovation in civic education.
APSA actively strengthens and supports our members’ important work on civic engagement
and education. For instance, the APSA RAISE the Vote initiative was launched in 2019 with the
specific goal of collecting and developing resources to “amplify and increase student engagement”
in the 2020 United States elections. The initiative’s resources ranged from teaching guides and
activities to blog posts about political science research on voting and political participation. Fur-
ther, in 2020, the association added a new civic engagement organized section representing over
200 political scientists, which will promote “the teaching of and scholarship in civic engagement”
and will recognize scholarship and teaching innovation in that field. Recently, the association has
also launched APSA Educate, an online resource site for teaching and learning resources including
material on teaching civic engagement. The amount of materials continues to grow as does the
utilization by members and the broader public. APSA has also increased its ongoing investment
in supporting teaching and learning in political science more broadly by offering options such as
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
xii
workshops, webinars and innovative programming at the APSA annual meeting, including an all-
day intensive conference on teaching and learning called TLC at APSA.
The publication of this important new book, Teaching Civic Engagement Globally, reflects the
high priority placed on civic engagement and teaching and learning by the association. In 2013,
APSA published Teaching Civic Engagement: From Student to Active Citizen, which demonstrated
how civic engagement could be taught across all subfields of political science as well as a com-
panion website. This book was then followed by Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines
in 2017. These initial two books have been widely used by students and faculty. The latest book
reflects the growth of interest by scholars, faculty, students, and policymakers in civic education
worldwide. Thus, the chapters include a wide variety of diverse contributions from many differ-
ent countries reflecting the innovation and creativity that political scientists are bringing to the
teaching of civic engagement. The broad span of contributions reflects the increasing importance
of civic education in higher education institutions worldwide and the desire to connect students to
real-world experiences of civic engagement that will help to spur them to become life-long active
citizens. In particular, the teaching of civic engagement has greatly benefited from the upsurge in
informed research on best pedagogical practices, as reflected in this book as well as the increase
in articles on teaching civic engagement in the key APSA journals, the Journal of Political Science
Education (JPSE) and PS: Political Science & Politics.
The growth and development of the APSA portfolio of programs on teaching civic engage-
ment also reflects changes in higher education, including the professoriate and students. Even
prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, higher education was relying much more extensively on online
and hybrid instructional methods, offering new methods of course delivery and the ability to reach
more students such as the growing number of non-traditional students. Also, more students from
many varied backgrounds are attending university. A younger generation of faculty are also more
adept at social media and new technology. Consequently, exciting innovation is occurring in the
classroom regarding the teaching of political science and civic engagement in particular, as illus-
trated by the many fine chapters in this new book.
I would like to express my great appreciation for the excellent leadership work of the co-ed-
itors, Elizabeth C. Matto, Alison Rios Millett McCartney, Elizabeth A. Bennion, Alasdair Blair,
Taiyi Sun, and Dawn Whitehead. This impressive book is truly international in scope and ambi-
tion, representing the growing movement on teaching civic engagement and top-notch research
underway on effective teaching practices. Terrific support for this project has been provided by Jon
Gurstelle, APSA Publishing Director, and Henry Chen, APSA Managing Editor. Our goal is to en-
courage extensive utilization of this book; consequently, the book is formatted and designed to be
easily accessible with separate downloadable chapters. As with the previous books, the companion
website will serve as a supplement as well as a dynamic resource for civic engagement scholar-prac-
titioners with links to other APSA programs and services.
This timely book is a great contribution to the literature on civic engagement around the
world. Politics is polarized, and democracy is under threat in many countries. Thus, citizens need
information and opportunities to be active citizens, including participation in the electoral process
and the activities of civil society organizations. Teaching Civic Engagement Globally is a very wel-
come contribution to our understanding of education to promote civic engagement and hence a
more robust democracy.
Foreword:
The Urgency of Teaching
Civic Engagement Globally
Lynn Pasquerella
Association of American Colleges & Universities
The stunning attack on the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, by insurrectionists
signaled not only the growing expansiveness of partisan divides and polarization in
America but also the fragility of democracy. Amidst a global pandemic and economic
crisis that has spurred racist and xenophobic attacks, the violent attempt to disrupt
a free and fair election was also emblematic of a worldwide trend toward tyranny
and authoritarianism. Indeed, Freedom House’s most recent report on political rights and civil
liberties, Freedom in the World 2021, highlights a long-term democratic decline reflected in a
narrative chronicling the 15th consecutive year of waning global freedom.1
Characterized by government disinformation campaigns and lack of transparency, censor-
ship, voter suppression, and the use of excessive force in response to protest movements, the bur-
geoning assault on democracy calls for renewed global leadership and solidarity among democratic
states. It also creates a sense of urgency for colleges and universities to respond to the invitation to
lead by reaffirming, articulating, and demonstrating the value of civic education in safeguarding
democracy and countering authoritarianism.
Championing a liberal education allied to democracy is grounded in an understanding that
democracy is not self-sustaining but depends instead on the sustained engagement of free people
united in their commitment to the fundamental principles of justice, liberty, human dignity, and
the equality of persons. It is an education that empowers all students at every type of institution
with both the knowledge and skills and the habits of heart and mind that have the capacity to lib-
erate their thinking, equip them for, and dispose them to the creation of a more just, equitable, and
inclusive society through civic involvement.
Liberal education was validated as the form of education most appropriate to advancing de-
mocracy in a 2020 report by Anthony Carnevale and his colleagues at Georgetown’s Center for Ed-
ucation and the Workforce. “The Role of Education in Taming Authoritarian Attitudes” examines
the purpose of colleges and universities in relation to the challenge of rising authoritarianism at
the global level and the subsequent threat to democracies.2 Citing the power of higher education
in mitigating against authoritarian tendencies, the study’s findings confirm that college graduates
at both the bachelor’s degree and associate degree levels are less likely to express authoritarian
preferences and attitudes than those with less education, particularly when students are exposed
to a liberal arts education, with an emphasis of critical analysis and speaking across differences.3
According to the study, liberal arts education reduces individuals’ sensitivities to potential
triggers by providing psychological protection in the form of self-esteem, personal security, and
autonomy. It also fosters a level of interpersonal trust associated with lower inclinations toward
expressing authoritarian attitudes and preferences. The capacity to deal with complexity and di-
versity and not be threatened by differences of opinion is significant given that perceptions of
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
xiv
threat—to physical safety, economic security, group identity, social norms—often activate author-
itarian tendencies. Exposure of liberal arts majors to diverse contexts, histories, ideas, lifestyles,
religions, ways of life, and cultures diminishes the likelihood that differing worldviews will trigger
authoritarian responses and increases the chances of their being countered with evidence.
In addition, the findings reveal that postsecondary education leads to greater political partici-
pation and civic engagement. This, in turn, decreases tendencies toward authoritarianism, regard-
less of political affiliation. Because democracies with higher levels of education have greater levels
of political tolerance and are more likely to survive, the report concludes that “higher education is
the cornerstone of successful democracies not easily shaken by authoritarian threats.”4
Preparing students for success in addressing the complex problems of the future in an interde-
pendent, rapidly changing world necessitates the creation of a critical public culture, the fostering
of moral and sympathetic imagination, and a focus on global citizenship. The essays contained in
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally offer case studies, models of excellence, insights, and global
perspectives on how colleges and universities can, and must, play a leadership role in catalyzing in-
stitutional transformation that centers civic engagement and democratic participation in the cur-
riculum and co-curriculum. In the process, they remind us of the importance of all institutions of
higher education serving as anchor institutions, committed to the idea that the success of colleges
and universities is inextricably linked to the economic, social, psychological, physical, and educa-
tional well-being of those in the communities in which they are located. Moreover, at this moment
of extraordinary opportunity to reimagine higher education, they inspire us to engage in greater
collaboration in working toward our shared objectives around teaching civic engagement globally.
Endnotes
1. Freedom House, “Freedom in the World 2021: Democracy Under Siege,” (Washington, DC: Freedom House, 2021). https://
freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2021/democracy-under-siege.
2. Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, Lenka Dražanová, Artem Gulish, and Kathryn Peltier Campbell, “The Role of
Education in Taming Authoritarian Attitudes,” (Washington, DC: Center on Education and the Workforce, 2020).
https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/authoritarianism.
3. Lynn Pasquerella, “Liberal Education and Threats to Democracy,Liberal Education 106, no. 3 (2020). https://www.aacu.org/
liberaleducation/2020/fall/president.
4. Ibid.
Acknowledgments xv
Acknowledgments
The call for submissions for Teaching Civic Engagement Globally was released in the
spring of 2020 as the COVID-19 global health emergency was just taking hold. The
months that have followed have been marked by tremendous loss of life, economic
devastation, and social turmoil with the impact of this health emergency revealing
stark and systemic inequities worldwide. The editors acknowledge all those who have
been involved in the publication of this book and thank them for their dedication and perseverance
under very difficult circumstances.
We are grateful to Steven Rathgeb Smith, Executive Director of the American Political
Science Association (APSA), for his consistent support of this book and the companion website
as well as the previous publications on teaching civic engagement. We also thank Tanya Schwarz,
the former Director of Teaching and Learning at APSA, for the international partnerships she
forged that served as the impetus of this book and for her early support of this text. Jon Gurstelle,
APSA’s Director of Publishing, and Henry Chen, editorial and publications associate, have
been great partners in the preparation and publication of this book. Thank you also Clarissa
Noqueira, APSA’s Manager of Communications & Web Development, who offered support with
the companion website. We thank Lynn Pasquerella, President of the Association of American
Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), for not only the foreword she contributed to this text but also
her commitment to global learning and engagement. The editors are incredibly grateful to Dick
Simpson, professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, for the advisory role
he played in the preparation of this book and for his contribution.
This text is rooted within a broader set of discussions and debates about democratic education
and pedagogy, and the editors are grateful to colleagues we’ve met at various teaching and learning
conferences who have contributed to our thinking on teaching civic engagement globally. This
publication builds upon Teaching Civic Engagement: From Student to Active Citizen and Teaching
Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines but also marks the start of a new process of bringing global
democratic teaching and learning together.
Our students have played a meaningful role in the publication of Teaching Civic Engagement
Globally. Early on, Cecilia Ritacco of Rutgers University and Cassie Rezac from Towson University
prepared a rich database of teacher-scholars of civic engagement education from around the world,
an invaluable resource as we disseminated our call for submissions. Kayla Isenbletter and David
Hurley from the Indiana University South Bend have offered great support with copyediting draft
manuscripts and compiling the bibliography at the end of the book, and Rutgers University’s Jack-
son Snellman has assisted with preparing components of the website and the launch of the book.
The editors also thank the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, The State University of
New Jersey; the Towson University Office of the Provost and Office of Civic Engagement and Social
Responsibility; Indiana University South Bend’s Research & Development Committee; the Office
of Global Citizenship for Campus, Communities, and Careers at AAC&U; Christopher Newport
University’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity; and De Montfort University’s
social impact and engagement team.
Finally, we thank our families for their unending patience throughout this effort.
Global Civic
Engagement Education:
Ideas, Directions,
Collaborations
SECTION I
Introduction
Alasdair Blair¹ and Alison Rios Millett McCartney²
1. De Montfort University; 2. Towson University
SECTION I: GLOBAL CIVIC ENGAGEMENT EDUCATION
One of the most notable global trends in recent years has been an increasingly held view
among the electorate in democratic countries that there is something wrong with
their system of government. Although frustration and discontent by the electorate
is not a particularly recent phenomenon in relation to specific country studies, the
prevalence of this discontent and questioning of the value of democratic institutions
and processes is new in the context of global changes. In a recent study based on a dataset from
four million people in democracies around the world, Foa et al. found that dissatisfaction with
democracy has risen since 1973, hitting an all-time global high in developed democracies in 2019.1
These numbers are particularly troubling amongst 18–34-year-olds (55%), as this group has the
steepest increase in dissatisfaction with democracy and is double the rate of dissatisfaction of the
previous generation when they were at the same age. The study’s authors posit that this discontent is
due to the widespread belief amongst millennials that democracy is not solving common problems
like climate change and inequality, while also not creating pathways for their futures.2 While youth
participation in elections has briefly risen in some countries due to highly controversial elections
or referendums, the overall global trend has not been positive for many years.3
What then are the implications of these developments for the study of civic engagement ed-
ucation, and what might be done to remedy this challenge? In the first instance, we argue that
this lack of practicing skills and values of democracy is directly correlated to a decline in civic
engagement education. As Dewey told us over a century ago and Butin has reminded us, we have
to educate each and every generation about democracy and the skills and values of democracy to
maintain democracy because democratic citizens are not just “born.”4 More recently, in his study
of the turmoil of US politics, Thomas Carothers has rightly noted that in responding to a decline
in the public’s trust in democracy, it would be wrong to simply blame the democratic model and to
consider that other systems of governance might be better, which would be “misguided thinking.”5
Rather, we need to think about what factors might be leading to this state of affairs and how we
might remedy this situation. In addressing this challenge, this book builds upon our two previous
works, Teaching Civic Engagement: From Student to Active Citizen (2013) and Teaching Civic Engage-
ment Across the Disciplines (2017), and seeks to provide pedagogical tools, evidence, and arguments
for how colleges and universities can be active players in reversing rising challenges to democracy
and trends of low participation across the world. For if we do not, we face backsliding into the au-
thoritarianism and disregard for human rights that was so prevalent in previous centuries and that
we spent the last century fighting to eliminate.
How Did We Get Here?
The first 20 years of the 21st century showed that people all around the world want democracy.
From the expansion of the European Union (EU) to the Arab Spring, mass movements and major
government decisions seemed to bring more democratic principles such as respect for human
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
4
rights and free and fair elections to more people. This focus on democratic transformation has
been a notable feature of world politics since 1945, and particularly so since the end of the Cold
War, as technology increasingly connected people around the world via new tools for trade,
communication, information, and entertainment. Francis Fukuyama famously considered the end
of the Cold War to be “the end of history.”6 For Fukuyama, what this phrase represented was an
end to the conflict between the different ideological systems of fascism, communism, and liberal
democracies. In essence, for Fukuyama, liberal democracy had become the only “tried, tested and
viable form of government,”7 and it was assumed that the people’s preference for democracy would
continue on unquestioned.
Some three decades on from the end of the Cold War, we can and should question such a
viewpoint. While liberal democracy might be regarded as an optimal form of government,8 it is also
the case that democracies increasingly are under threat, most notably from the rise of populism
and corruption. At one extreme, challenges facing democracies might be a reaction to their new
status and vulnerability, with newly created democratic structures being less resilient to the cut
and thrust of democratic debates. Even though there is an element of truth to such an argument, it
is also the case that there is a broader, and in many ways more systemic, change that is occurring
in relation to the globalization of the world economy wherein power is being transferred from
established democracies to the emerging economies of China and India in particular. This change
in turn is impacting societies’ confidence levels within established democracies,9 with electorates
expressing a frustration with the decisions that their governments face and sometimes simultane-
ously having unrealistic expectations that are shaped by an element of lack of understanding of the
underlying factors that influence the policies within their countries.
Such a state of affairs has led to a more divisive level of debate among elected politicians, who
when faced with challenges from the electorate often fail to tackle the more systemic (and painful)
issues that afflict their countries in favor of what are often short-term and populist policies. This
anti-democracy threat has been a particular feature of European democracies in recent decades,
where a populist tide is being significantly influenced by a sense of insecurity among national
electorates in the face of pressures such as economic downturns and migration. In some Euro-
pean countries, these pressures have led to more favorable attitudes towards strongman leader-
ship, most recently in the Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania.10 In other countries such as Brazil,
the Philippines, and Turkey, democratic systems have been eroded by increasingly authoritarian
leaders who use perceived and/or real security threats, in addition to economic issues and migra-
tion, to promote the power of an individual leader who is not checked by audit, compliance, and
accountability measures. These cases have led to the emergence of what has become known as
“illiberal democracies.” This seemingly contradictory condition has become a feature of not only
fragile states, but also more established democracies.11 While such developments have often been
relatively bloodless, such as with the rise of Victor Orbán in Hungary, it is nevertheless the case
that at a global level, from El Salvador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and from Afghanistan
to Ukraine, violence is still used by many leaders as a primary tool to run governments, control
others, and violate the people’s rights.
Thus, rather than the optimistic and somewhat rose-tinted view of the world that many hoped
for after the end of the Cold War, the last three decades have witnessed significant conflict. This
violence has ranged from the breakup of Yugoslavia and the genocide in Rwanda in the early 1990s,
through to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan in the first decade of the twenty-first century, and
more recent conflicts in Myanmar and South Sudan. At a global level, the Middle East and North
Africa are particularly fragile12 as being the lowest ranked regions in terms of their democratic sta-
tus, with war also continuing in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Populism is rising across the world, with
a distinctly authoritarian tilt. In sum, countries with established democracies are facing increasing
anti-democratic forces, and many countries that seemed poised for democracy are backsliding into
authoritarian tendencies. As we set the stage for our discussion of civic engagement education, we
should also note these contexts within which this pedagogy operates because the responsibility for
change rests as much with us as educators as it does with anyone. In this sense, it is not just suffi-
Section I: Global Civic Engagement Education: Ideas, Directions, Collaborations 5
cient for political science faculty to write about the political landscape, we also have to influence
that landscape for the better, of which teaching (and practicing) civic engagement education at a
global level is a critical factor.
Challenges and Changes in the Twenty-First Century
Now in the third decade of the 21st century, a key question that we need to ask is how prepared we
are to address existing and new challenges, while also ensuring that we maintain the democratic
principles that so many fought for in the previous century. We also need to ask what is our role
as educators in this debate. Within democratic governments some advances have been made in
areas such as women’s rights and LGBTQI rights, yet violence against members of certain racial,
ethnic, and gender groups persists and is even growing in these countries.13 Continuing racism,
discrimination, and violence impacts who gets to participate in their communities, how they can
participate, and how often they can participate. Moreover, because ‘communities’ also tend to
have often informal, but established ‘rules of the game,’ this social context can mean that more
marginalized communities that engage proactively in civic engagement activities are often not
recognized for their efforts and contributions. This additional layer can create further feelings of
isolation and establish insider-outsider relationships in society more generally, as members of
underrepresented groups may fear speaking up and participating in their communities which can
then mean that marginalized communities start out with greater disparities in civic engagement
experience and knowledge. Consequently, the lack of their voices can impair society’s ability to
address their needs and concerns, thus limiting benefits to the majority.14 This problem and its
implications for civic engagement education are explored in the first chapter of this text, and the
authors offer solutions which can be adapted to a variety of cultural and political contexts.
At a global level it is critical that faculty represent the students they teach, and the need for a
balanced representation is particularly acute in civic engagement education, as students need to see
how democracy can work for everyone. Universities are, however, not as diverse as they should be
and there is a relative lack of underrepresented faculty to teach and mentor students.15 To take just
one example, at the time of writing in 2021, of 23,000 university full professors in the United King-
dom, less than 1% were Black professors (155 full professors).16 While the UK is not an exception
to this disparity,17 the figures are nonetheless extremely worrying. It is also the case that women
around the world regularly face exclusion from civic engagement opportunities, and “‘inhospita-
ble’ institutional climates and research norms that discount collaborative work that could nurture
women’s careers” mean that women face additional barriers and processes of exclusion that make
it harder for them to get and keep faculty positions.18 Indeed, these issues are largely overlooked
in the literature on civic engagement education, where there is a relative dearth of discussion with
regard to the overall health of the discipline. We see this as a key challenge that we need to address.
Meanwhile, political situations sound alarm bells regarding the long-term implications of
the decline of civic education. Multiple challenges, sometimes violent, to free and fair elections
and voting rights emerged in the 2020 United States presidential election and its aftermath. On
the other side of the Atlantic, the United Kingdom held a highly controversial vote in 2016 which
resulted in it leaving the European Union on 31 January 2020. Both situations occurred due in
part to leaders’ campaigns based on inaccurate and misleading information spread through new
technologies and calls to action which in some cases ran contrary to the very foundations of these
long-standing democracies. But there is growing evidence that it is this sort of language, what Bar-
tels refers to as “ethnic antagonism,” that appeals to pockets of the electorate.19 Another alarming
component of these campaigns included suggestions that democratic processes and rules were too
flawed or should be abandoned altogether and that leaders should get “special dispensations” to
continue in office. While voter participation increased in both cases and on several demographic
measures,20 the basis upon which some participated—hatred and disinformation—was not condu-
cive to building a future for democracy.21 Instead, these situations sound alarm bells regarding the
long-term implications of the decline of civic education. As civic engagement educators, we need
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
6
to rise to the challenge of addressing these issues by providing our students with the tools to work
effectively within democratic systems, institutions, and processes and to protect their rights. This
need is particularly acute given global problems such as advancing climate change that threat-
ens the habitats, jobs, and lives of people everywhere and need global solutions. Meanwhile, the
COVID-19 pandemic has shattered illusions that states can ensure the health, prosperity, and se-
curity of their people on their own.22 As civic engagement educators, we need to rise to these chal-
lenges by educating students for engagement in local, national, and global realms.
Although it is generally accepted that education and the attainment of basic literacy skills play
critical roles in the development and maintenance of healthy democracies,23 it is nonetheless the
case that, at the time of this writing in 2021, one in seven adults across the world is functionally
illiterate. Moreover, 66% of illiterate adults are women.24 Behind these numbers is a broader divide
between the wealthy global North and the poorer global South where the majority of illiterate
adults reside. The global South is also where the majority of the world’s authoritarian regimes exist
and where the bloodiest conflicts often occur. Just as it is widely recognized that a lack of educa-
tion can play an important role in creating the space for authoritarian regimes to take hold in the
global South, so too can a lack of importance in instilling the virtues of civic literacy undermine
values in more established democracies in the global North.25 These conditions form a particularly
vexing challenge given the role that technology such as the internet can play in popularizing false
truths. Consequently, civic engagement educators must keep in mind that just as it is important to
establish basic literacy, we must also be concerned about the need to ensure that people have the
necessary information skills to navigate a digital world.26
Education plays a critical role in enabling people to understand and continually protect their
rights, just as education is directly linked to improving the productivity of a country and the life ex-
pectancy of its citizens. The United Nations (UN) has focused on the individual person and groups
of people rather than just relations between states in recent years. This movement initially took the
form of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were inaugurated in 2000 and com-
mitted UN member states to achieve eight key targets by 2015 to combat poverty, hunger, disease,
illiteracy, environmental degradation, and discrimination against women.27 In 2015, these were su-
perseded by agreement on 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are to be achieved by
2030 and focus on issues such as poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, clean water ,
energy, economic growth, inequalities, sustainability, peaceful and just societies, and global part-
nerships.28 The latest SDG report in 2020 highlighted that while progress had been made in some
areas such as children’s health, the underlying changes have been nonetheless slow and worsened
by the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of which has been felt the most in the world’s poorest coun-
tries and the poorest communities in advanced economies.29 Achieving these important goals relies
on national governments responding to this work in a positive way, and national governments
need the support and contributions of their people. Civic engagement education, as explained in
chapter three by Taiyi Sun, can help local, state, and national governments work with international
institutions to reach these goals and create a better world for all.
The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore the division between
the rich global North whose citizens have benefitted from higher education rates, advanced, re-
search-based industries, and mass vaccination efforts versus the global South, whose citizens
have often been left behind as a result of vaccine nationalism in rich countries.30 While leaders
in the global North often refer to global challenges, their efforts have primarily been focused on
exclusively solving their own countries’ problems. A retrenchment to a national focus illustrated,
though not started, by the COVID-19 crisis, is a worrying trend. Somewhat more worrying has
been the passive acceptance of this internalism of electorates in these countries. Thus, while civic
engagement education emphasizes the importance of leaders seeking and accepting accountability
to the people for their actions and decisions, we also see less in the way of challenges by their elec-
torates to what has increasingly become a parochial point of view. Such a state of affairs reflects on
the one hand an insular approach of sorting out national problems and on the other hand a lack of
knowledge and understanding by many of the inter-relationships and linkages between the local,
Section I: Global Civic Engagement Education: Ideas, Directions, Collaborations 7
national, and global levels that are inherent to effectively addressing vital issues such as climate
change and global health. Although this is not a new trend, it is one that has been accelerated by
COVID-19. Our youth need this global context, and several chapters in this and the previous books
explain how civic engagement education can help them make these connections.31
In addition, civic engagement education is important because the public often do not really
have a comprehensive understanding of the issues that affect them. Research in the US and Europe
has highlighted that the decisions taken by electorates are often shaped by their identity and prej-
udice towards particular issues rather than independent thought.32 One impact of this information
gap is that electorates often misunderstand the issues that they consider to be particularly im-
portant. In more recent times, a classic example is the way in which the UK electorate’s views were
influenced by concerns about immigration. While a study conducted two years before the 2016 EU
referendum in the UK revealed that people thought that 24% of the population were immigrants,
the figure was actually only 13%.33
In these discussions a significant area of concern is a decline in news reporting at a local and
global level, partly influenced by a shift to digital news channels and digital advertising. At its
most stark, this change has led to a reduction in the sort of detailed reporting of local and overseas
events that was once the norm.34 This decline is especially harmful in the context of civic engage-
ment education as local journalism has a crucial role in the scrutiny of local democracy, which often
has the dominant impact on citizens’ lives.35 This state of affairs highlights a potentially worrying
trend in knowledge about events at home and abroad and their interconnectedness precisely when
the world is at a precarious point in time in relation to its own sustainability. We need news report-
ing to assist in maintaining an engaged and informed electorate.36 It is in many ways a perverse
state of affairs. While innovations such as the internet mean that the present day is the most in-
terconnected and informed, it is also in many ways a desert of information. With the rise of social
media sites that merely serve as “echo chambers” of pre-existing beliefs, this lack of knowledge
and exposure to different perspectives is detrimental to a country’s civic health. Civic engagement
education can help to bridge this information gap and includes use and evaluations of media as an
expectation for citizens and an assignment in our courses.37
Further, in seeking to bring increased knowledge to students throughout the world, another
challenge is that a significant amount of the existing literature on civic engagement relates to case
studies of the global North, particularly those in North America. For example, the many articles in
journals such as European Political Science, the Journal of Political Science Education, and PS: Politi-
cal Science & Politics, and the work of teacher-scholars displayed in conferences such as the APSA
Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC), the annual APSA conference with the mini-conference
of TLC@APSA, the European Consortium of Political Research, and the UK Political Studies As-
sociation have fostered considerable progress in the quest to build high-quality civic engagement
education in North America and Europe. Where there are obstacles to the organization and run-
ning of civic engagement education activities in these regions, they are often based around the
time and resources of the university as a provider of civic engagement, the faculty as the developers
and leaders of civic engagement education, and the establishment of a campus culture that enables
civic engagement to flourish.38 Yet, for the teaching of civic engagement to operate successfully
and become institutionalized in established higher education settings such as North America as
well as in new environments such as China, we need to think more widely about the implications
of such initiatives. This approach includes more openly questioning whether the teaching of civic
engagement has traditionally offered and truly made opportunities available for all students at all
types of institutions.
What is Civic Engagement Education?
As we embark upon creating a global platform for civic engagement education, we begin with
the definition from McCartney (2013), which proposes that civic engagement education is an
evidence-based pedagogy which includes a wide range of activities and co-production actions
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
8
that develop knowledge about the community, its systems, and its problems, seek constructive
solutions to these problems through deliberation and active participation, build skills to enable
students to pursue these solutions, foster values of lifelong participation and democracy, and
offer opportunities to experience this participation to build a sense of efficacy that one’s voice
and actions matter. It includes but is not necessarily always the same as political engagement, a
sub-set of civic engagement, which “refers to explicitly politically oriented activities that seek a
direct impact on political issues, systems, relationships, and structures,39 though this is often the
case in civic engagement education in political science courses. And civic engagement education
is not volunteerism, which, while valuable to the community, can be a one-day or short-term event
that is not connected to academic learning, reflection on causes of the situation for which one is
volunteering, or finding solutions.40 Civic engagement education is akin to the term “community
engagement education” which is preferred by some who bristle at a political or legal view of the
word ‘civic.” Service-learning can be a pedagogical tool of civic engagement education, though it
is not a required component. Some define “critical service-learning” as a separate pedagogy, or
perhaps a sub-set of civic engagement education, and it has an explicit social justice orientation
and works with the non-profit sector to promote social change.41
In sum, civic engagement education includes developing the knowledge, skills, values, and ex-
periences that students can use to work with and within their communities to become leaders and
active participants in their political, social, and economic systems. It pursues the goal of helping
students to recognize and activate their connection to, roles in, and responsibilities toward their
local, national, and global communities. As such, it is a pedagogy that seeks to foster a sense of the
“we” in the individual and encourage that individual to bring their talents, viewpoints, and skills
to improve the community, while also respecting the same in other community members. Though
it is most common in democracies, as democracies guarantee rights such as voting and freedoms
of speech, press, assembly, and religion that engender civic engagement, contributors to this book
demonstrate how civic engagement education can work in less liberal contexts.
However, as we further develop civic engagement education, we must promote the inclusion of
civic engagement education in all students’ paths. As stated in Teaching Civic Engagement Across the
Disciplines, “we need to build our democracy with geographically, demographically, professionally,
and politically diverse people who hold a wide variety of viewpoints and experiences and who are
educated in how government works, how problems can be peacefully confronted, and how we can
work together to find mutually beneficial solutions.”42 We need civically engaged healthcare work-
ers, engineers, scientists, teachers, and business owners to even be able to develop comprehensive
approaches to contemporary problems. Thus, our first step to get this breadth of participation is to
work within and across our collegiate institutions to infuse our general education structures and
our co-curricular programs, as well as our major curricula, with effective civic engagement educa-
tion. This process includes proper assessment so that we can keep learning what is and is not work-
ing and why.43 It also requires building incentive and rewards systems to support civic engagement
education research, teaching, and service within our institutions and to reward and respect each
area equally. To not only build but also maintain civic engagement education in higher education,
we need ongoing professional development opportunities so that new teacher-scholars can learn
this pedagogy and current teacher-scholars can improve their work and contribute to growing the
scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) literature.
Second, we must develop more work with our local primary and secondary institutions be-
cause lifelong civic participation is built on a ladder of learning experiences throughout a person’s
growth, not on a single platform. Since most people in the world do not attend higher education
institutions at this time of writing, we cannot and should not ignore these students if we want more
informed people to become civically productive in our communities. As Owen (2013), O’Shaugh-
nessy (2013), Healey (2017) and others have shown, active civic engagement learning experiences
in pre-collegiate education can be particularly influential in setting the foundation for lifelong
participation, especially when this foundation is built upon the positive perspective of youth as
citizens, not citizens-in-training.44 Political science teacher-scholars once abdicated such a role in
Section I: Global Civic Engagement Education: Ideas, Directions, Collaborations 9
the pursuit of the science of research, but hopefully, as Rogers (2017) exhorts,45 we can reclaim
this space and use the knowledge and skills of our discipline to educate students at all levels in all
countries. Our role is essential in ensuring that not just the history of our countries is taught, but
also the current political systems and contexts that our students are operating in if we are to fully
build their futures as competent and confident citizens.
Making Civic Engagement Work for All
Civic engagement education is vital to thwarting authoritarian challenges to democracy and
the loss of people’s rights, and continued research and idea exchanges on best practices in civic
engagement education is crucial to answering these threats. However, we must also recognize that
barriers and continuing challenges exist that enable authoritarianism to arise and that hinder
teaching civic engagement in authoritarian and less liberal democracies. At another extreme, we
face the challenges of enabling all students to benefit from civic engagement education given that
the commodity of time is not equal for all students. In addition to time for students and faculty,
other factors which we must confront include an increasingly diverse student body, training and
retaining high quality faculty dedicated to civic engagement education, the allocation of resources
within and between higher education institutions, sources of money to fund higher education, new
technology which could enhance civic engagement education, and the launch of a global platform
for civic engagement teaching, scholarship, and learning.
Time impacts students, faculty, and staff in different ways. The increasing diversity of the
student population brings to the fore broader societal challenges, from family caretaker respon-
sibilities to having to work a modest to substantial number of hours. This situation means that
many more students have competing interests which lessen their time to commit to learning, in-
cluding scheduled class meetings and learning that takes place outside of scheduled classes. These
constraints consequently highlight that we need to think about a curriculum that reflects this re-
ality. Students not raised in the dominant culture of the state where a university is located, such
as immigrants and students studying abroad, have additional hurdles in encountering civic en-
gagement education norms and expectations. A university curriculum should therefore not just be
geared towards the needs of “traditional” 18-year-old students, but should instead recognize the
need for a more flexible and supportive learning environment that reflects the myriad challenges
that our current student bodies face.
Just as there is a need to create a supportive learning environment for our students, so too do
we need to think about how we support and develop our academic faculty and wider staff.46 The tra-
ditional ways of working and developing teaching staff are largely typified by learning on the job
with informal mentoring that could at best be viewed as ad hoc, amateurish afterthoughts and at
worst as leading to a system of patronage where decisions and processes can lead to assistance giv-
en to some individuals over others that can include discrimination on the basis of gender and eth-
nicity. In some countries, there is also the added challenge of “academic inbreeding,” which reflects
the tendency for universities (and particularly their faculty) to hire their own graduates.47 Many of
these challenges highlight wider system issues, including low salaries and a pervasive lack of suffi-
cient support for professional development opportunities beyond the wealthiest higher education
institutions, and a lack of influence of academic professional associations. Research indicates that
this disparity can lead to both a virtuous and vicious circle relating to academic career progression
that is shaped by the structural frameworks of working conditions.48 But they also bring to the fore
the challenge of ensuring that there is a sufficient level of academic mobility, networking, respect,
and support to enable the sharing of the development of ideas on pedagogical best practices.
Universities cannot solve these issues alone. But, they are often viewed as the key actors in
the delivery of civic engagement education, and their missions, coursework, and programs should
reflect this need from our societies.49 While this position partly reflects the historic nature of the
role of universities,50 it is also a reflection of the way in which higher education institutions have
become increasingly important as “anchor” industries in their local economies. Universities are
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
10
more than just educational environments and often take on a service function in their locality, a
trend which is often further exacerbated by the decline of local industries and the resulting nega-
tive impact on local economic growth and civic life. This trend can place universities in complex
situations that straddle moral and ethical roles about the nature of the civic engagement activities
that they get engaged in as in some instances what they are committing to is a long-term program
of work from which they cannot easily withdraw.
Universities are themselves not immune from financial pressures. Indeed, one of the most
notable trends in global higher education is the rising costs attached to running a higher education
institution, including such factors as reductions in government funding. In recent years universi-
ties in market-focused higher education systems such as Australia, Canada, the US, and the UK
have responded to this situation by recruiting more international students to balance their books.
The COVID-19 pandemic has, however, cast doubt over this financial model as international stu-
dents have been unable to travel. While this might just be a short-term development, the impact
is likely to be long-term, whether that be through the reduction in research funding, academic
restructuring, or the merger (and closure) of institutions.51 Universities are confronting other fi-
nancial pressures from increased pension costs because their investment incomes are declining
and people are living longer. Resources, in the form of research grants and endowments, are ever
more concentrated in the hands of a small elite group of universities at a global level. Meanwhile,
for those universities that are more reliant on teaching income, meaning tuition and fees, there
is the added challenge of how to balance the books, which can lead to both increased costs and
fewer opportunities available for those students who are more likely to be from less privileged
backgrounds and may be in more need of civic engagement education even as their institutions
have fewer resources.
This is a particularly acute challenge for universities in liberal market economies where the
marketization of higher education has created a more competitive environment, with universities
acting as businesses that compete with each other for the resources provided by student numbers.
At a global level, this competition can also lead to the increasing power and influence of estab-
lished universities and their elite graduates in the global North which attract full-tuition-paying
international students, often from developing countries. Yet, in our thinking about civic engage-
ment education, and in particular the context of less liberal democracies, we also need to be con-
scious of some of the inherent challenges that a more liberal market economy poses, particularly
in relation to the outcomes of competition and the allocation of scarce resources. Looking to the
future, we need to think about how some aspects of what we might want to achieve, such as inter-
national student recruitment to ensure diversity of thought, sit with other commitments, such as
sustainability. In this regard the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated thinking around technolog-
ical solutions that aid student mobility, such as virtual learning experiences.
As part of this discussion on resources for civic engagement education, we need to consider
the balance between funds for research-oriented higher education institutions versus teaching-ori-
ented higher education institutions. Society needs researchers who can respond to so-called grand
challenges that require interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration. Such concerns have
largely been the preserve of more research-focused faculty, whom in turn have often been able to
benefit from mentoring and support structures to enable them to be ever-more successful. Mean-
while, the less research-focused faculty with larger teaching loads, many of whom teach the classes
that focus on civic education, are left to continue the battle for dwindling state resources and the
resulting need to raise tuition, fees, and room and board—and thus student loan burdens—on those
who can least afford such costs.52 Yet the numbers show that the majority of students are educat-
ed at public institutions and public community colleges. These numbers also reflect a continuing
racial dominance and lack of inclusion.53 In sum, the rich schools, their alumni, and their students
keep getting richer, while the rest can only dream about the large endowments that pay for civic
engagement programs. If our democracies are going to survive and thrive, we need to think about
how to better steer state funding, grants, and private donations to a wider number of higher ed-
ucation institutions, their faculty, and their students. If not, we will just keep educating an elite,
Section I: Global Civic Engagement Education: Ideas, Directions, Collaborations 11
and democracy cannot be maintained without the education, participation, and respect of all of its
citizens.54
Going forward, there is a need to rethink some of these divides and to consider the broad-
er ecosystem of higher education and how we develop and support teaching faculty. As we have
already highlighted, there are many pressing and vigorous challenges in terms of the economic,
political, and social health of countries across the globe. To handle these challenges, teaching civ-
ic engagement education needs to be seen as a priority for universities. As discussed throughout
Teaching Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines (2017), these challenges go beyond just core po-
litical science faculty and require stronger interdisciplinary and inter- and intra-institutional net-
working.55
For civic engagement education to work as a means to preserve and build democracy, we there-
fore need a “glocal,” or global and local, approach. Looking to the future, we need to consider new
ways to approach civic engagement education at a global level, as well to consider ways in which
higher education over the next decade and beyond will play a part in maintaining and developing
healthy democracies. As civic engagement educators, we need to move beyond single national case
studies and also reach into more mainstream academic publications. At all levels, civic engagement
is more than just the challenge of getting citizens to vote, which has traditionally been regarded as
a hallmark of the passive citizen.56 Civic engagement only works when people are involved in many
ways and have the knowledge about how their democratic system works, the skills such as com-
munication and deliberation to work within and improve that system, the values of democracy and
regular democratic engagement, and the sense of efficacy that their voices matter. Yet, we cannot
just have these debates among the political science community. If civic engagement education is
the means to provide this knowledge, skills, value system, and sense of efficacy to help our local,
national, and global communities survive and thrive, then as educators we have a responsibility
to make the case for this pedagogy within and beyond our professional associations. More impor-
tantly, as Simpson proposes in the final chapter, we need to also make this case to our national
governments and elected representatives, as well as to international organizations.
The Plan of This Book
This book represents a first attempt to think about the teaching of civic engagement at a global
level and in so doing aims to shift the discourse away from traditional case studies that have
been largely based on North American situations. Divided into four sections, the book starts by
exploring ideas and developments relating to civic engagement education through a number
of case studies which include collaborative linkages between local, national, international, and
intergovernmental organizations. Section II presents examples of teaching practices around the
world that illustrate in a practical way what has and has not worked, as well as charting areas for
improvement. Section III looks at the teaching of civic engagement education through the lens of
country case studies, including examples of civic engagement centers, study abroad programs, and
co-curricular initiatives. Finally, section IV sets out key global issues and challenges in moving
civic engagement education forward and identifies necessary pathways for future work.
In this book, several authors explain where their countries are succeeding and failing to pro-
vide the educational foundations that people need to navigate through new challenges to democra-
cy across the world. Drawing on a range of global experiences that include case studies from Brazil,
China, The Gambia, New Zealand, Romania, Russia, and South Africa, contributors demonstrate
where institutions in some countries are making progress and rising to these challenges to devel-
op innovative education models to promote democratic knowledge, skills, values, and experience,
whether in democratic, authoritarian, or mixed systems.
These issues are contextualized in section I, which frames the debates regarding the teaching
of civic engagement education at a global level. The section begins with a critical stance of the role
of civic engagement education as an enabler for a more engaged, inclusive, and democratic envi-
ronment. Candice Ortbals, J. Cherie Strachan, Lori Poloni-Staudinger, Debora Lopreite, and Celia
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
12
Valiente remind us of the implications of and gaps in established approaches to teaching civic en-
gagement education and note the importance of grounding such approaches in transnational fem-
inist activism. By focusing on civic engagement education through such a lens, it is possible to gain
a fuller understanding and awareness of globally engaged citizenship and to overcome political
hobbyism, which they contend has become the dominant method for teaching civic engagement
education. Instead, they propose that a more inclusive framework can advance civic engagement
opportunities for all students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or national identity.
Xaman Minillo and Henrique Zeferino de Mendezes of the Universidade Federal da Paraíba
Brazil demonstrate the opportunity for partnerships between local governments and international
organizations to tackle global challenges, most notably those relating to the UN’s SDGs. Their
chapter highlights the significance and importance of government financial resources in bringing
about change and the way in which debates and battles at a national level such as shifting funding
priorities can remove ladders of opportunity that create links between universities and civil society
which have been assisting in transforming society by providing opportunities to a wider range of
students.
In chapter three, Taiyi Sun of Christopher Newport University explores the complexity of
teaching civic engagement education in authoritarian states through a case study of China. The
chapter highlights the work of SEED for Social Innovation, which began as a student organization
at Harvard University before becoming established as a non-governmental organization. Through
this case study, Sun demonstrates the potential for teaching civic engagement in an authoritarian
country and the compromises that sometimes have to be made to ensure acceptance by the state.
As such, the chapter brings to the fore the inherent challenge of independence of thought and
working in an authoritarian context and the tactics that can be employed to overcome these lim-
itations while still maintaining core principles of civic engagement education, such as deliberation
and holding officials accountable.
Catherine Shea Sanger and Wei Lit Yew explore in chapter four the challenge of teaching
civic engagement education in less liberal societies through the case study of Singapore. Drawing
on their own personal experiences, they discuss the way in which civic engagement education in
less liberal societies can be framed in outcomes that are more palatable to government leaders and
cultural norms. In so doing, they emphasize both the adaptability of civic engagement education
as well as its weaknesses in terms of its pliability
Finally, John Craig of Leeds Beckett University in the UK explores the development of civic
engagement education in the UK in chapter five. Through his work, Craig emphasizes the elite-
based nature of the UK higher education system and the influence of Oxford University in terms
of thinking on civic education and the way in which civic education has only in more recent years
become a more strategic priority for the higher education sector.
Overall, the chapters in this book primarily draw on material prior to the COVID-19 pandem-
ic which has had a significant impact on higher education in terms of the delivery of content by
highlighting the benefits and the challenges of a digital world, though chapters in section II do
incorporate how a number of higher education institutions have dealt with pandemic-era teaching.
It is nonetheless apparent that the pandemic has accentuated and exacerbated existing divisions in
the experiences of students, faculty, and staff. Many people have struggled to get access to ever-ad-
vancing digital technology and the infrastructure to support it. This technology access gap requires
us to think about how physical spaces relate to the digital environment and how civic engagement
education can operate in a learning environment that combines the best of both worlds.
The overarching goal of this book is to reflect on the improvements made and the challenges
which remain for the future of democracy and provide examples of effective civic engagement ed-
ucation around the world which can move civic engagement education forward in various cultural
and economic contexts. There is no one perfect democratic or educational system, so we present
several pedagogical tools and ideas to build and secure civic engagement education in all types
of institutions. By educating our youth and communities on the knowledge, skills, and values of
civic engagement, we can give them the means, the power, and the sense of investment in their
Section I: Global Civic Engagement Education: Ideas, Directions, Collaborations 13
own countries that will provide a foundation to make the next twenty years a period of democratic
growth, peace, and prosperity for all. Given that higher education is now a global enterprise, it is
urgent that educators share civic engagement pedagogical tools and ideas and continue to learn
from each other by creating a global civic engagement education community of practice that is
accessible to all and brings the benefits of civic engagement education to youth around the world.
We hope that this book provides encouragement and a useful platform for this global community
of practice to flourish.
Endnotes
1. Roberto Stefan Foa, Andrew Klassen, Michael Slade, Alex Rand, and Rosie Collins, The Global Satisfaction with
Democracy Report 2020 (Cambridge, UK: Centre for the Future of Democracy, 2020), https://cam.ac.uk/system/files/
report/2020_003.pdf.
2. University of Cambridge, “Democracy: Millennials Are the Most Disillusioned Generation ‘in Living Memory’—Global
Study,” EurekAlert! (19 October 2020), https://eurekalert.org/pub/releases/2020-10/uoc-dma101620.php; Roberto Stefan
Foa, Andrew Klassen, Daniella Wenger, Alex Rand, and Michael Slade, “Youth and Satisfaction with Democracy:
Reversing the Democratic Disconnect?” Centre for the Future of Democracy (2020), https://bennettinstitute.cam.ac.uk/
media/uploads/files/Youth_and_Satisfaction_with_Democracy_lite.pdf Note that another study done in 2018 found
similar outcomes in 27 countries. See Richard Wike, Laura Silver, and Alexandra Castillo, “Many Across the Globe Are
Dissatisfied With How Democracy Is Working, ” (Washington, DC: Pew Research Center, 2017), https://pewresearch.
org/2019/04/29/many-across-the-globe-are-dissatisfied-with-how-democracy-is-working/
3. CIRCLE, “Half of Youth Voted in 2020, An 11-Point Increase From 2016,” Center for Information and Research on Civic
Learning and Engagement, (29 April 2021), https://circle.tufts.edu/index.php/latest-research/half-youth-voted-2020-11-
point-increase-2016/ ; Emily Rainsford, “Young people and Brexit: Not All That we Think,” Political Studies Association,
(20 March 2019) https://psa.ac.uk/psa/news/young-people-and-brexit-not-that-that-we-think.
4. John Dewey, “The Need of an Industrial Education in an Industrial Society,” Manual Training and Vocational Education
17 (1916); Dan Butin, “Introduction,” in The Engaged Campus: Certificates, Minors, and Majors as the New Community
Engagement, eds. Dan W. Butin and Scott Seider (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
5. Thomas Carothers, “Is Democracy the Problem?” The American Interest, (16 January 2019), https://www.the-american-
interest.com/2019/01/16/is-democracy-the-problem/
6. Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1992).
7. Alasdair Blair and Steven Curtis, International Politics: An Introductory Guide (Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press,
2009): 305.
8. For example: Daniel Stockemer, “Does Democracy Lead to Good Governance? The Question Applied to Africa and Latin
America,” Global Change, Peace & Security 21, no. 2 (2009): 241–255.
9. Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2019: Democracy in Retreat, https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2019/
democracy-retreat
10. The Economist Intelligence Unit, Democracy Index 2020: In Sickness and in Health? (London: The Economist Intelligence
Unit, 2020): 34. Available at https://www.eiu.com/n/campaigns/democracy-index-2020/.
11. For example: Boris Vormann and Michael D. Weinman, eds., The Emergence of Illiberalism: Understanding a Global
Phenomenon (London: Routledge, 2020).
12. World Economic Forum, These are the World’s Most Fragile States in 2019, https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/04/most-
fragile-states-in-2019-yemen/
13. Brian Levin and Lisa Nakashima, “Report to the Nation: Illustrated Almanac—Decade Summary: Hate and Extremism
with updated 2019 FBI, US City, Canada, & Europe Data,” Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, (San
Bernadino, CA: California State University, San Bernardino, 2019), https://csusb.edu/site/default/files/Almanac%20
12%202019_0.pdf; Gloria Yang, “Racism Today Versus Racism After 9/11,” Berkeley Political Review, (30 October 2017),
https://bpr.berkeley.edu/2017/10/30/racism-today-versus-racism-after-911/; European Union Agency for Fundamental
Rights, “Survey on Minorities and Discrimination in EU (2016), EUAFR, Brussels, (17 April 2017), https://fra.europa.
eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-and-maps/ survey-data-explorer-second-eu-minorities-discrimination-
survey?mdq1=theme&mdq2=974; Kenneth Roth, “The Dangerous Rise of Populism: Global Attacks on Human Rights
values,” in World Report 2017, Human Rights Watch, n.d. https://hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/global-4.
14. Joshua Littenberg-Tobias and Alison K. Cohen, “Diverging Paths: Understanding Racial Differences in Civic Engagement
Among White, African American, and Latina/o Adolescents Using Structural Equation Modeling,” American Journal
of Community Psychology 57 (2016) 102–117; Joseph Kahne and Ellen Middaugh, “Democracy for Some: The Civic
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
14
Opportunity Gap in High School,” CIRCLE Working Paper 59, Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning
and Engagement (2008), https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED503646.pdf; Jessica K. Taft, Sandi Kawecka Nenga, eds.,
Youth Engagement: The Civic-Political Lives of Children and Youth (Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited,
2013); Judith Torney-Purta, Carolyn H. Barber, and Britt Wilkenfeld, “Latino Adolescents’ Civic Development in
the United States: Research Results from the IEA Civic Education Study,” Journal of Youth and Adolescence 36, no. 2
(February 2007): 111–125.
15. Horacio Sierra, “Higher Education Lacks Diversity,Baltimore Sun, (2 May 2021), https://www.baltimoresun.com/opinion/
op-ed/bs-ed-op-0502-academia-ivory-tower-race-20210430-nrzxi3sa75af3bwhyyyxnavvqi-story.html; Aaron Clauset,
Samuel Arbesman, and Daniel B. Larremore, “Systemic Inequality and Hierarchy in Faculty Hiring Networks,” Science
Advances 1, no. 1 (2015): doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1400005. See also Chapter 1 by Ortbals et al.
16. Sean Coughlan, “Only 1% of UK University Professors are Black”, BBC News (19 January 2021), https://www.bbc.co.uk/
news/education-55723120
17. In the US in 2018, 40% of all full-time faculty were white males, 35% were white females, 7% were Asian/Pacific Islander
males, 5% were Asian/Pacific Islander female, 3% each were Black males, Black females, Hispanic males, and Hispanic
females, and the remaining 1% included Native American/Alaskan Native and those who selected two or more races.
See National Center for Education Statistics, “Characteristics of Postsecondary Faculty,” NCES, (May 2020), https://
nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/csc
18. Fernando Tormos-Aponte and Mayra Velez-Serrano, “Broadening the Pathway for Graduate Students in Political
Science,” PS: Political Science & Politics 53, no. 1 (2020): 145. See also Valeria Sinclair-Chapman, “Leveraging Diversity
in Political Science for Institutional and Disciplinary Change,PS: Political Science & Politics 48, no. 3 (2015): 454–458;
Tiffany Willoughby-Herard, “Conferencing is not a Luxury and Neither is the Scholarly Life of our Future Colleagues,”
PS: Political Science & Politics 53, no. 1 (2020): 146–148; Kesicia A. Dickinson, Jasmine C. Jackson, and Princess H.
Williams, “Jackson State University: Challenging Minds and Cultivating the Political Science Pipeline,PS: Political
Science & Politics 53, no. 1 (2020): 148–151; American Political Science Association, “Political Science in the 21st Century,”
in Report of the Taskforce on Political Science in the 21st Century (Washington, DC: American Political Science Association,
2011).
19. Larry M. Bartels, “Ethnic Antagonism Erodes Republicans’ Commitment to Democracy,” Proceedings of the National
Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 117, no. 37 (2020): 22752–22759. https://www.pnas.org/content/
pnas/117/37/22752.full.pdf
20. Michael McDonald, “Voter Turnout Demographics 2020,” The Election Project (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida,
2020). https://electproject.org/home/voter-turnout/demographics; William H. Frey, “Turnout in 2020 Election Spiked
Among Both Democratic and Republican Voting Groups, New Census Data Shows,” Brookings Institution (5 May
2021), https://brookings.edu/research/turnout-in-2020-spiked-among-both-democratic -and-republican-voting-groups-
new census-data-shows/; BBC, “EU Referendum: The Result in Maps and Charts,BBC (8 June 2021), https://bbc.com/
news/uk-politics-36616028.
21. Jemina Kelly, “How Hate Became a Driving Force in Elections,” Financial Times (15 October 2020), https://www.ft.com/
content/018e1286-3641-4921-b7b0-927081ec7fc6
22. Foa et al., 2020b.
23. Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom (Oxford:, UK Oxford University Press, 1999).
24. Dan Smith, The State of the World Atlas (Oxford, UK: Myriad, 2020).
25. See for example, Joe Westheimer, “Civic Education and the Rise of Populist Nationalism,” Peabody Journal of Education 94,
no. 1 (2019): 4–16.
26. Gianfranco Polizzi, “Information Literacy in the Digital Age: Why Critical Digital Literacy Matters for Democracy,” in
Informed Societies: Why Information Literacy Matters for Citizenship, Participation and Democracy, ed. Stéphanie Goldstein
(London: Facet Publishing 2020): 1–23.
27. United Nations, “Millennium Development Goals,” Geneva: United Nations (1995), https://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/
28. United Nations, “Sustainable Development Goals,” Geneva: United Nations (2015), https://sdgs.un.org/#goal_section
29. United Nations, “The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2020,” Geneva: United Nations (2021), https://unstats.
un.org/sdgs/report/2020/
30. “Vaccine Nationalism Means that Poor Countries Will Be Left Behind,” The Economist (28 January 2021). https://www.
economist.com/graphic-detail/2021/01/28/vaccine-nationalism-means-that-poor-countries-will-be-left-behind
31. In this book, see Chapters 3, 6, 9, and 14. In other books, see Susan Dicklitch, “Blending Cognitive, Affective, Effective
Learning in Civic Engagement Courses: The Case of Human Rights-Human Wrongs,” in McCartney et al. 2013:
247–258; Alison Rios Millett McCartney and Sivan Chaban, “Bringing the World Home: Effectively Connecting Civic
Engagement and International Relations,” in McCartney et al. 2013: 259–278; Michael K. McDonald, “Internships,
Section I: Global Civic Engagement Education: Ideas, Directions, Collaborations 15
Service-Learning, and Study Abroad: Helping Students Integrate Civic Engagement Learning across Multiple
Experiences,” in McCartney et al. 2013: 369–384.
32. Christopher H. Achen and Larry M. Bartels, Democracy for Realists (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2016); Ipsos
Mori, “Fake News, Filter Bubbles and Post-truth Are Other People’s Problems…” (6 September 2018), https://www.
ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/fake-news-filter-bubbles-and-post-truth-are-other-peoples-problems
33. Ipsos Mori, “Perceptions Are Not Reality: Things the World Gets Wrong,” (29 October 2014), https://www.ipsos.com/
ipsos-mori/en-uk/perceptions-are-not-reality-things-world-gets-wrong
34. For example, Janine di Giovanni, “The First Draft of History: Why the Decline of Foreign Reporting Makes for Worse
Foreign Policy,” Foreign Policy (15 January 2021), https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/01/15/history-foreign-correspondents-
media-press-journalism-war-reporting-photography/
35. For example, Plum Consulting, Research into Recent Dynamics of the Press Sector in the UK and Globally, (May 2020). Report
undertaken for the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. https://assets.publishing.
service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/924325/Plum_DCMS_press_sector_
dynamics_-_Final_Report_v4.pdf
36. In the UK alone, research into international news reporting in the British press through analysis of news stories published
in four newspapers for the first week in March 1979, 1989, 1999, and 2009 demonstrated a decade-on-decade fall in
news reports by just under 40% from 502 stories during the week in 1979 to 308 stories during the week in 2009. Martin
Moore, Shrinking World: The Decline of International Reporting in the British Press (London: Media Standards Trust,
2010): 8. http://mediastandardstrust.org/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2010/10/Shrinking-World-The-decline-of-
international-reporting.pdf
37. Alison Rios Millett McCartney, “’Teachnology’ and Civic Engagement in the Year of COVID-19 Instruction,” Raise the
Vote, Washington, DC: American Political Science Association, (17 September 2020) [blog] https://connect.apsanet.
org/raisethevote/2020/09/17/teachnology-and-civic-engagement-in-the-year-of-covid-19-instruction/; Christi Siver and
Claire Haeg, “Incorporating and Assessing Methods Across the Political Science Curriculum,” in Jeffrey L. Bernstein,
ed., Teaching Research Methods in Political Science (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2021): 177–193.
38. Barbara Jacoby and Associates, Civic Engagement in Higher Education: Concepts and Practices (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
2009): 224–5. Nancy Thomas and Margaret Brower, “The Politically Engaged Classroom,” in Matto et al., 2017: 21–34;
Nancy Thomas and Margaret Brower, “Politics 365: Fostering Campus Climates for Student Political Learning and
Engagement, in Matto et al., 2017: 361–374.
39. Alison Rios Millett McCartney, “Teaching Civic Engagement: Debates, Definitions, Benefits, and Challenges,” in
McCartney et al. 2013: 13–14.
40. Ibid.
41. Sharon Hutchings and Andrea Lyons-Lewis, “Reflections on our Critical Service Learning Provision. Is It Critical or Are
We Social Justice Dreamers?” in Eurig Scandrett, ed. Public Sociology as Educational Practice: Challenges, Dialogues and
Counterpublics (Bristol, UK: Bristol University Press, 2020).
42. Alison Rios Millett McCartney, “Introduction,” in Matto et al., 4.
43. For excellent information on building good civic engagement assessment, see Elizabeth A. Bennion, “Assessing Civic
and Political Engagement Activities: A Toolkit,” in McCartney et al., 2013: 407–422 and Bennion, “Moving Assessment
Forward: Teaching Civic Engagement and Beyond,” in McCartney et al., 2013: 437–445.
44. Diana Owen, “The Influence of Civic Education on Electoral Engagement and Voting,” in McCartney et al., 2013: 313–330;
Betty O’Shaughnessy, “High School Students as Election Judges and Campaign Workers: Does the Experience Stick?”
in McCartney et al., 2013: 297–312; Diana Owen and Isaac Riddle, “Active Learning and the Acquisition of Political
Knowledge in High School,” in Matto et al. 2017: 103–122; Shawn Healey, “Essential School Supports for Civic
Learning,” in Matto et al. 2017, 123–134. See also Lonnie R. Sherrod, Judith Torney-Purta, and Constance A. Flanagan,
“Introduction,” in Lonnie R. Sherrod, Judith Torney-Purta, and Constance A. Flanagan eds., Handbook of Research on
Civic Engagement in Youth (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons Inc., 2010): 1–20. This handbook was an excellent first
endeavor by the editors to connect those interested in youth civic engagement across the world in a single work. It
includes many chapters that should be consulted by anyone looking to work with the pre-college population.
45. Rogers 2017.
46. See for example Sarah Surak, Christopher Jensen, Alison Rios Millett McCartney, and Alexander Pope, “Teaching Faculty
to Teach Civic Engagement: Interdisciplinary Models to Facilitate Pedagogical Success,” in Matto et al. 2017: 231–246;
Elizabeth C. Matto and Mary McHugh, “Civic Engagement Centers and Institutes: Promising Routes for Teaching
Lessons in Citizenship to Students of All Disciplines,” in Matto et al. 2017: 321–346.
47. Philip G. Altbach, Maria Yudkevich and Laura E. Rumbley, “Academic Inbreeding: Local Challenge, Global Problem,Asia
Pacific Education Review 16, no. 3 (2015): 317–330.
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
16
48. Pippa Norris, “What Maximises Productivity and Impact in Political Science Research?,” European Political Science 20, no.
1 (2021): 34–57.
49. James Simeone, James Sikora, and Deborah Halperin, “Unscripted Learning: Cultivating Engaged Catalysts,” in Matto et
al. 2017: 273–289. See also Surak et al. 2017; Matto and McHugh 2017.
50. See Craig, Chapter 5; Michael T. Rogers, “The History of Civic Education in Political Science: The Story of a Discipline’s
Failure to Lead,” in Matto et al. 2017: 73–96. See also several chapters in Michael T. Rogers and Donald M. Gooch, eds.,
Civic Education in the Twenty-First Century: A Multidimensional Inquiry (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2015).
51. Andrew Jack and Jamie Smyth, “Coronavirus: Universities Face a Hard Lesson,” Financial Times (21 April 2020), https://
www.ft.com/content/0ae1c300-7fee-11ea-82f6-150830b3b99a
52. Organization for Economic Cooperation, Benchmarking Higher Education System Performance: Conceptual Framework and
Data, Enhancing Higher Education System Performance (Paris: OECD, 2017), https://www.oecd.org/education/skills-
beyond-school/Benchmarking%20Report.pdf; Jon Marcus, “Most Americans Don’t Realize State Funding for Higher
Ed Fell by Billions,” PBS NewsHour, (26 February 2019), https://www.pbs.org/newshour/education/most-americans-
dont-realize-state-funding-for-higher-ed-fell-by-billions; APM Research Lab Staff, “APM Survey: Americans’ Views
on Government Funding and Aid for Public Colleges and Universities,” American Public Media, (25 February 2019)
https://www.apmresearchlab.org/highered. According to these reports, American students and their families paid
one-third of the cost of higher education, and now they paid one-half of the cost; Richard J. Murphy, Judith Scott-
Clayton, and Gillian Wyness, “Lessons from the End of Free College in England,” Evidence Speaks Reports 2, no. 13.
(Washington, DC: Brookings Institute, 2017). https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/es_20170427_
scott-clayton_evidence_speaks.pdf; Denmark, Germany, Norway, and Sweden offer free tuition, though students must
pay fees and living expenses. Brian Gerber, “Three Ways R3’s Stand Out From the Crowd,” The Evolution, (15 August
2016), https://evolllution.com/managing-institution/higher_ed_business/three-ways-r3s-stand-out-from-the-crowd/.
53. National Center for Education Statistics, “Annual Report: Undergraduate Enrollment,” NCES, (May 2021), https://nces.
ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/cha.
54. Jane Mansbridge, “Why Do We Need Government? The Role of Civic Education in the Face of the Free-Rider Problem,” in
Matto et al. 2017: 11–20.
55. Caryn McTighe Musil, “Excerpts From A Crucible Moment and Civic Prompts,” in Matto et al. 2017: 55–64; McCartney,
“Introduction,” in Matto et al. 2017: 1–10; Dick Simpson, “Teaching Civic Engagement Today,” in Matto et al. 2017:
375–390.
56. Brian M. Harward and Daniel M. Shea, “Higher Education and Multiple Modes of Engagement,” in McCartney et al.,
21–40.
SECTION I: GLOBAL CIVIC ENGAGEMENT EDUCATION
Stop Training Global Political
Hobbyists! Teaching Students
How to Be Engaged Global
Citizens Through Transnational
Women’s Activism
1
This chapter criticizes higher education’s “global citizenship” initiatives for pri-
oritizing knowledge about nation-states and familiarity with global communities
as a way to prepare students for individual achievement in professions that in-
creasingly require them to work with diverse others in an interconnected world.
At best, this approach transforms students into global “political hobbyists” who
are willing to debate public issues that cut across national boundaries, but who
lack the civic interest or political skills required to resolve them. To cultivate truly
engaged global citizens, the authors recommend approaches grounded in trans-
national feminist epistemology and pedagogy. Such work, which takes seriously
women’s intersectional identities and variation in their lived experience, under-
scores the importance of reflexivity and empathy as critical civic skills that stu-
dents should master before moving on to seek influence over global issues. Specif-
ic learning experiences that incorporate transnational feminist practices include
listening to and crafting testimonios, addressing local issues that cut across na-
tional borders, and preparing for a Fifth World Conference for Women. While
higher education in general and political science in particular pose obstacles to
transnational feminist activism as civic engagement, the authors argue it is the
best way to address the needs and interests of a changing, diverse student body.
The learning experiences suggested help to fulfill the civic mission of our institu-
tions and our discipline.
Candice D. Ortbals¹, J. Cherie Strachan², Lori Poloni-Staudinger³,
Debora Lopreite⁴, and Celia Valiente⁵
1. Abilene Christian University; 2. Virginia Commonwealth University;
3. Northern Arizona University; 4. University of Buenos Aires; 5. University Carlos III
KEYWORDS: Transnational; Feminism; Engagement; Activism; Global.
Hierarchy, Democracy, and Activism
Pedagogy for civic and political engagement, which first emerged in established
democracies in the Global North, often begins with the assumption that education can
cultivate the skills, knowledge, and identities that will help students to exercise their
positive political rights. It assumes citizens can access means of political participation,
from voting to lobbying, and can do so vis-à-vis stable, democratic institutions that will
respond to their endeavors. In the broader sweep of world history, however, few beyond political
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
18
elites have had the legal right to influence domestic political decisions in their own countries, let
alone international ones. Historically the world was characterized first by patriarchy and then by
additional hierarchical structures, including feudalism, slavery, caste systems, and colonialism.1 The
disenfranchised—former peasants, serfs, and slaves; Indigenous people; and women—only gained
access to political power through what one scholar of democratization describes as “prolonged and
inconclusive political struggles.”2 Moreover, traditional authority figures—patriarchs, monarchs,
dictators, and rulers—did not altruistically embrace egalitarian decision-making and establish
or expand access and suffrage; rather, the people who traditionally had been denied access to
political power organized in the public sphere and engaged in disruptive politics. For instance,
some suffragists engaged in hunger strikes and unruly protests to achieve voting rights whereas
Indigenous activists in several countries have protested against the privatization of water and
for their voices to be heard in decisions regarding natural resources. In short, democratization,
political rights, and access to voice transpire when the disenfranchised make it clear that they
must be consulted if society is to run smoothly and without disruption. Limited government and
positive political rights “are not natural features of the political landscape;” rather “they exist
because someone demanded them.”3
In this chapter, we argue that political engagement pedagogy should teach students these
realizations—that the right to participate in decision-making has always been earned through or-
ganizing in the public sphere and through collective action. To become engaged citizens in a global
world, i.e., to become power-wielding global citizens, students therefore must see social and polit-
ical change as something that they can demand even when issues of concern cut across national
borders. Further, they should be taught to achieve global political influence not by imposing their
preferences on those who world history has disenfranchised and subjected to ongoing subordi-
nate status, but by collaborating with people in various locations around the world who also want
change. As Poloni-Staudinger and Strachan4 posit, teaching that stops with knowledge of interna-
tional political affairs will transform students into political hobbyists who can debate global issues,
but who feel no responsibility for resolving them as engaged global citizens. Political hobbyists, or
well-educated people who can process political information and make in-depth arguments about
political issues, still may have a minimal sense of civic duty and a lack of interest in and/or ability
to influence real-world political outcomes.5
While gaining knowledge and cultural appreciation is an important first step toward global
civic engagement, we argue that teaching must then pivot to explicit political engagement peda-
gogy. By this we mean that learning experiences must move beyond familiarity with global issues
and even voluntarism to practicing the collective action skills required to influence global and/or
“glocal” issues, i.e., local issues with global roots or consequences. Most importantly, we contend
that traditional political engagement pedagogy be supplemented with approaches grounded in
transnational feminist activism, defined here as a grassroots movement but also as an academic
perspective with epistemological and pedagogical implications. Transnational feminism under-
scores awareness of intersectionality and of one’s own positionality in relation to others as precur-
sors to collective action strategies.
Note, women and gender studies scholars, despite purposefully teaching students how to in-
fluence political outcomes, consciously eschewed the term “civic engagement” in favor of the term
“feminist activism.”6 They did so to underscore that feminist activists advocate for radical action
to transform a status quo built on patriarchy’s hierarchical legacies rather than access to governing
institutions as they currently exist. Nevertheless, pedagogy for feminist activism in general and
transnational feminist activism in particular overlaps considerably with political engagement ped-
agogy, as both emphasize not only a “deeper understanding” of issues and those affected by them,
but also the collective action and organizing skills required to achieve social and political change.7
As this APSA volume and the two that preceded it make clear, applied civic and political learn-
ing, focused on influencing outcomes through civic voluntarism and through wielding political
power, is increasingly important for students.8 In the United States (US), embedding civic engage-
ment in the university curriculum is crucial because the quality of US democracy and the role of
Stop Training Global Political Hobbyists! 19
civil society in promoting citizen participation is declining as evidenced by the erosion of volun-
tary associations and the rise of professionally staffed public interest groups and think tanks.9 US
citizens show little trust in their political institutions, and the US is considered a “flawed democ-
racy” according to the Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit.10 Furthermore, the
professionalization of civil society along with the erosion of deliberative voluntary associations in
the United States offer limited socializing experiences that previously prepared citizens for civic
participation.11 The US is not alone in its democratic decline; “just 8.4% of the world’s population
live in a full democracy while more than a third live under authoritarian rule.12 Although certain
countries have seen a robust civil society response to transnational concerns in recent years (see,
for example, Argentina below), anti-gender campaigns and increased militarization of the police
in other countries signal a fresh wave of hierarchical structures against which ordinary citizens
may become mobilized.13 Learning about active political and civic participation, therefore, might
behoove students in various country contexts.
As this chapter explains, a global context of hierarchy is equally challenging for ordinary citi-
zens who desire change. Globalization tests local contexts and actors, and it facilitates the growth
of economic inequality at an “unprecedented rate.”14 What is more, activist organizations, namely
those that retain a critical, activist role rather than embracing clientelism, service provision, and
“deliverables,” struggle to attract grant funding.15 An example drawn from the US might include
the success of professionally run public interest groups like the Children’s Defense Fund compared
to the decline of participatory organizations like Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs).16 In a world
of continued and reemerging hierarchies, we encourage professors to explore new pedagogical
practices to prepare students to demand social change.
In the sections below, we contrast our approach of globally engaged citizenship with the one
we believe is most common in universities today and tends to produce what we call political hobby-
ists. After explaining the pedagogical implications of transnational feminism as a way to overcome
political hobbyism, we present student engagement activities that teach the skills of reflexivity and
empathy as scaffolding for global collective action. We conclude the chapter with a critical discus-
sion of our transnational feminist approach.
Political Hobbyists and Global, Engaged Citizens
In response to globalization, higher education accrediting agencies and professional associations
in North America began to emphasize the role of colleges and universities in preparing students
for global citizenship.17 Higher education institutions now celebrate a commitment to global
citizenship in their mission statements and highlight efforts to internationalize their curricula
through course offerings, “global citizenship” programs, and co-curricular activities such as study
abroad.18 Many institutions’ approaches emphasize knowledge about nation-states and global
communities as well as students’ preparation for individual achievement in professions that
increasingly require them to work with diverse others in an interconnected world. The cosmopolitan,
neoliberal emphasis underscores “an intellectual and aesthetic sense of openness toward people,
places, and experiences with different cultures, especially those from different nations.19 This
approach to education for global citizenship, typical in higher education in the Global North,
focuses on transforming students who already happen to be among the most privileged persons
in the world into savvy individuals who are more knowledgeable and employable, and at least
potentially, more likely to give back to the world community in some way through service.20 The
focus on the student as an individual is key here; rather than changing enduring social structures
of discrimination, education changes individual attitudes about the broader world. These attitudes
may range from tolerance and openness to a passive sense of “moral and ethical commitments to
a global community.21
We see this neoliberal, cosmopolitan approach as one that creates political hobbyists. Political
hobbyists often acquire substantive knowledge, cross-cultural competency, and appreciation for
other cultures, but they do so largely to sustain their own individual growth and/or achievement
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
20
post-graduation.22 A political hobbyist is akin to what Parisi and Thornton refer to as a “student as
tourist” or a “student as explorer.”23 A student might come to care about global issues and engage in
some type of service activity as they study abroad or learn about global issues in courses, but they
often do so without a critical understanding of existing power hierarchies and end up reifying them
“under the guise of internationalization” and “global citizenship.”24
We believe that training students to be hobbyists is ill-advised for the individual student as
well as for global society writ large. The student as tourist model can be rightly criticized for rein-
forcing a colonial dynamic of Western (often white), middle-class educators and students in North
American and Europe who are charged with producing and spreading knowledge to “others” in
the world.25 The student as a tourist may see people outside their own country as fascinating and
perhaps exoticized; when students with privilege try to “help” people, they propagate “binary rela-
tions between [the]‘benevolent’ West and ‘destitute’ East” or South as well as the narrative of the
“needy Other.”26
Even today’s non-governmental (NGO) sector reflects a colonial dynamic that must be cri-
tiqued. Global aid is often provided by countries affiliated with the Organization for Economic Co-
operation and Development (OECD). Given successful right-wing political movements in OECD
countries along with a global economic crisis, aid criteria increasingly reward efficient, effective
service delivery by professionally staffed NGOs over rights-focused, participatory, and grassroots
organizing movements.27 The increasingly hierarchical nature of nonprofit and civic organizations
that work to address global issues is problematic on a number of fronts, not least of which is that
these organizations often replicate and even exacerbate social hierarchies and inequalities that
occur both within, but also between, societies around the globe. Preparing students to work in
professionally staffed and hierarchical NGOs is tempting because such programming is often most
available and easiest to implement with limited resources; however, such organizations often treat
the disenfranchised or formerly disenfranchised like clients in need of services rather than citizens
who should play an active role in influencing policy decisions. All too often service-learning and
civic engagement projects with global partners reinforce a narrative that positions students from
the Global North as “rescuing” those from the Global South who are denied agency, the oppor-
tunity to develop their own civic infrastructure, and the opportunity to advance their preferred
solutions to public issues of concern.28 This outcome occurs because universities often choose to
partner with professionally staffed and grant-funded NGOs, rather than membership-based civil
society organizations committed to structural change.29 Hence, Parisi and Thornton explain that
traditional service-learning models run the risk of focusing on student learning outcomes instead
of the goals of the community in which students work.30 Ultimately, even well-intentioned, top-
down, service-oriented approaches that treat people as clients in need instead of equal partners
with their own lived experiences and agendas can do more damage than good if they reinforce an
oppressive status quo.
If students going abroad are well-intentioned, as they often are, it begs the question of how
we can train them to be “helpers” with the goal of “’undoing’ colonial legacies that continue to
buttress global racial divisions” or other power hierarchies.31 Furthermore, the many university
students around the world who do not have access to study abroad also warrant instruction that
helps them to navigate the global world and connects them to others in equitable relationships.
In direct contrast to mainstream approaches to global education, therefore, we support critical
approaches to global citizenship, and we identify engaged, global citizens as those who seek to
wield real-world power in decision-making that affects global issues and transnational affairs.32
In particular, we highlight those who broker this influence through reciprocal, collaborative, and
uncoerced relationships with others through global political organizing, transnational voluntary
associations, and local associations responding to global dynamics and/or working with global
networks. Thus, the best global citizens recognize that their own “influence” may be best achieved
through efforts to facilitate and empower their global partners. As we prepare students to become
engaged citizens, it is important that we also teach them not to replicate hierarchal approaches in
their own endeavors.
Stop Training Global Political Hobbyists! 21
Hence political scientists who aspire to transform students into global citizens through glob-
al civic engagement pedagogy should take inspiration from practices embraced by transnational
feminists. These scholars have tended to eschew the term civic engagement for the terms “feminist
activism” or “feminist pedagogy”,33 and they assert that political engagement education requires
preparing students for participation in “struggles for justice” in addition to participation in tradi-
tional, transactional political participation.34 We explain in the section below that the content and
skills associated with transnational feminism prepares students to understand themselves within
the global world and how their experiences might relate to and intersect with the experiences of
activists in local contexts around the world. Our transnational feminist approach suggests that
students understand the hierarchical structures that influence their peers around the world and
that they listen to and value the knowledge and feelings of ordinary people and activists. It is our
hope that students resist the status quo and create social change and that the skills that transna-
tional feminism teaches students—reflexivity and empathy—can be harnessed to change issues of
transnational significance beyond those raised by feminism.
Before we elaborate on our pedagogical approach, we first must acknowledge the positionality
of the authors. We are privileged in that we live in nation-states that see us as citizens with the right
to influence political decisions, but we know not all people (and students) around the world live in
open contexts where they can be as politically engaged as we can. Moreover, several of the authors
here are from the Global North, and we recognize that the literatures about civic engagement that
originally inspired this chapter would not be considered knowledge derived from the Global South.
Given awareness of our own positionalities and with a moral imperative for our students, we pro-
ceed in this chapter as follows: we explain the usefulness of transnational feminism as a pedagogy,
we present engagement activities that educators could use to encourage active global citizens, and
we conclude with next steps for educators.
Teaching through the Lens of Transnational Feminism
In addition to being a social movement, transnational feminism is a methodological and pedagogical
approach with epistemological implications, and it requires particular skills for scholars and
students alike. Transnational feminists aim to “decolonize knowledge production”,35 and they do
so through relationships or what could be called active engagements. Some voices are silenced in
global (and national and local) arenas; thus, the legitimization of voice creates knowledge that
otherwise would not exist. Voices are amplified as people engage one another and are understood
in relation to their values, contexts, experiences and political aims.36
As with traditional civic engagement pedagogy, we emphasize that skills are taught alongside
knowledge as a way to prepare students for participation in politics and that even simulations or
classroom activities that scaffold these civic skills prepare students for engaged citizenship beyond
hobbyism.37 Therefore, using transnational feminism as a lens to teach political engagement re-
quires students to learn about the history and current events of transnational feminism in addition
to important skills that prepare them to engage with activists around the world. In the following
sections, we present key knowledge about transnational feminism that students should compre-
hend and the necessary skills of reflexivity and feminist empathy.
In terms of knowledge, we suggest that students should learn about the academic, theoretical
basis of transnational feminism, the history of twentieth century, grassroots activism, and, espe-
cially, how grassroots activism relates to Black feminism and United Nations’ (UN) advocacy. Fur-
thermore, we believe that students must understand how transnational feminism is both local and
global in its orientation. Namely, feminist activists across the globe address issues of global sig-
nificance (e.g., gender violence, land/environmentalism, migration, hyper-militarization and war),
but these issues are grounded in local contexts and reflect the political agency and voice of women
in those places. Although common issues unite transnational feminists around the world, we do
not assume that issues affect women uniformly and thus will draw all women together.38 For this
reason, students must survey transnational feminism in several countries and/or regional contexts
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
22
in order to have a sufficient knowledge of transnational feminism.
We also argue that the history of global and transnational feminism asks students—and
especially students in the Global North—to have the skills to critically evaluate their individual
identities as well as social structures that maintain and create power differentials. Whereas global
feminists may be identified as primarily Western (white) women who seek global sisterhood and
universal campaigns for human rights and women’s health, transnational feminists historically
are women of color, the so-called “subaltern,” who critique structures of inequality—such as race,
nationalism, and global capital, reject universality, and seek local solutions to enhance social, po-
litical, and economic empowerment.39 We want students to collaborate along the lines of transna-
tional feminism, which demands an interrogation of power, including that of privileged women
over women who tend to be “othered.” As a result, students need to learn how to question their
own privilege through reflexivity and carefully imagine solidarity with women of intersectional
identities through feminist empathy before embarking on cross-border collaborations.
Our pedagogy presented below goes beyond the formulation of political hobbyists because
students are not encouraged to learn generalities about global struggles facing women (and men)
worldwide and discuss them; instead, we ask students to understand their own identities alongside
those of persons elsewhere (i.e., the skill of reflexivity) and in relation to local contexts which the
students have sought to comprehend (i.e., knowledge); listen to the voices of women and engage
and amplify their lived experiences and goals (i.e., the skill of empathy), and, with sufficient knowl-
edge and empathy, act collectively when possible.
Knowledge of Transnational Feminism
In this section, we present academic transnational feminism, grassroots transnational activism,
and contemporary examples that stress the parameters of transnational feminism. These examples
display the kind of knowledge that a student needs to grasp in order to understand women’s agency
in the local sphere. Once again, we want students to gain sufficient knowledge of transnational
feminism so that they do not assume that all women act with the same goals or within the same
contextual constraints and opportunities; with this diverse understanding, students will be more
prepared to practice feminist empathy.
The history of transnational feminism is debatable given its multiple forms. One strain of
transnational feminism consists of academic scholarship largely situated in United States higher
education.40 Such scholarship can be traced to the 1980s and particularly to the work of Chandra
Mohanty, who argued against the imagined universal sisterhood of global feminism and the as-
sumption that patriarchy uniformly oppresses women worldwide.41 Rather, Mohanty, as well as
others,42 contend that the nation-state and material conditions, influenced by colonial histories,
a global liberal economic order, and locally specific variables, oppress women worldwide. These
intersections of global and local variables imply attention to intersectionality; as Patil explains,
“categories of race, ethnicity, sexuality, culture, nation, and gender not only intersect but are mu-
tually constituted, formed, and transformed within transnational power-laden processes such as
European imperialism and colonialism, neoliberal globalization, and so on.43 This line of schol-
arship grew exponentially in the 1980s and 1990s, provided a challenge to the nation-state and
global capital, and presented a platform for “women’s agencies, responses, and resistances to these
[intersecting] relationships of power.”44
A second form of transnational feminism consists of the lived experiences and grassroots ac-
tivism waged by feminists across borders. The Oxford Handbook of Transnational Feminist Move-
ments considers such movements as the “fluid coalescence of organizations, networks, coalitions,
campaigns, analysis, and actions that politicize women’s rights and gender equality issues beyond
the nation-state.”45 A simplistic way to put this is “border-crossing activities and phenomena” by
women.46 This form of transnational feminism increased in the 1990s due to growing globalization
and information technologies;47 however, many sources trace instances of transnational feminism
to the early twentieth century and the second wave of feminism. For example, in the interwar pe-
riod, in the aftermath of British colonialism, British feminists worked alongside Palestinian and
Stop Training Global Political Hobbyists! 23
South African women to give voice to their intersectional demands.48 Moreover, Black feminism
from the 1960s and 1970s not only serves as part of the academic genealogy of intersectionality
and transnational feminism,49 but it also was the basis of in-person collaborations between Black
women in the US, the United Kingdom, Latin America, and Africa during those decades.50 The
Third World Women’s Alliance (TWWA) grew out of the US Civil Rights movement, emphasized
the “triple jeopardy” of race, sex, and class, and maintained activism related to anti-imperialism
and pan-Africanism.51
Additional moments that are essential to the history of transnational feminism pertain to the
United Nations’ advocacy for women’s rights, such as the UN Commission on the Status of Women
(CSW), created in 1946, and the four UN World Conferences on Women during the twentieth cen-
tury (Mexico, 1975; Copenhagen, 1980; Nairobi, 1985; Beijing, 1995). These conferences acted as a
“transnational opportunity structure” that allowed women’s movements to influence international
norms and set goals in local contexts.52 The successes of the conferences include the 1979 Conven-
tion on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the 1995
Beijing Platform for Action. These successes have been marked by conservative backlash, against
which feminist activists continue to fight.53 A fifth UN World Conference on Women arguably is
needed in coming years so that the CSW will work more effectively with women’s groups to address
issues that the activists reportedly care about, such as “land rights, sex trafficking, internet access
for women, and the effects of climate change on women.”54
Additional contemporary examples of transitional feminism conclude our brief overview of
knowledge about transnational feminism. Recall, transnational activism varies greatly from place
to place. Although it is impossible to honor all or even many women’s voices in this short space, we
have selected key examples of transnational feminism in an attempt to demonstrate the richness of
local activisms with which educators and students could engage. It is our argument that students
who aspire to influence global issues should be familiar with ongoing local endeavors in countries
and regions like the ones below. On the road to becoming active global citizens, students need be
knowledgeable in order to avoid acting as an uninformed outsider who rushes in to help others.
Instead, students should learn to recognize the ongoing, important work and political agency of
women around the world.
Striking contemporary examples that might appeal to many students concern hashtag activ-
ism; #MeToo and #NiUnaMenos should be recognized as important examples of online transna-
tional feminism that took on different manifestations in various countries.55 Because many stu-
dents will recall #MeToo, professors could also easily draw their attention to #NiUnaMenos, a
transnational response to gender violence and femicide in Latin America. The massive Women’s
March that accompanied the #NiUnaMenos hashtag occurred simultaneously in 80 cities in Ar-
gentina on 3 June 2015, with its epicenter in the city of Buenos Aires. The march called for an end to
violence against women, and in particular, urged the Argentine federal government to immediately
implement its 2009 antiviolence law. The events of 2015 had both local and global ramifications.
Coverage by mass media and internet activism found resonance in other countries of the region;
first, in Mexico, followed by Chile and Peru. In Mexico, for example, the protests were sparked by
the murder of a pregnant, 14-year-old by her boyfriend and were linked to anger over widespread
impunity, partially brought on by the country’s long-term drug war. Claiming Vivas nos queremos
(we want us alive), several women’s marches called Ni Una Menos (Not One Woman Less) were held
in Latin America from 2016 onward in countries such as Paraguay, Bolivia, Costa Rica, and Nicara-
gua. Similar events were then replicated in Canada, the US, France, Italy, and Spain, to name a few.
In 2018 a new feminist movement flooded the streets of Buenos Aires, namely Marea Verde
(Green Tide). Thousands of women and men took to the streets and claimed the right to free, legal,
and safe abortion for all women. Activists wore the green handkerchief of the National Campaign
for Free, Legal and Safe Abortion formed by a small group of feminists, legislators, and activists
in Argentina in 2007. The Green Tide crossed borders, thus becoming an example of transnation-
al feminism. In Chile, for example, women marched in 2019 wearing the green handkerchief and
performing a fight song: Un Violador en tu Camino (A rapist in your way). Since 2019 thousands
Teaching Civic Engagement Globally
24
of young women in Argentina, Chile, and Mexico have dressed up in violet and green colors and
denounced patriarchal oppression, violence, and abortion restrictions. They sing “[el patriarcado]
se va a caer, se va a caer, which means “it is going to fall”, in reference to the patriarchal system. The
green handkerchief continues to appear in Latin American countries but in different ways depend-
ing on the country; it was a symbol of celebration in Argentina in late 2020 and early 2021 with the
country’s legalization of abortion, and it remains a symbol in Mexico as each Mexican state consid-
ers abortion legislation. Marea Verde groups in individual Mexican states face distinct legislative
paths given Mexico’s federal structure. Therefore, Latin America’s growing feminist mobilizations
during the last decade operate from the local to the global and back again, with feminist activism,
through internet networks, becoming essential to growing feminist ideas in the regional context.
While maintaining that women’s experiences vary across the African continent, FEMNET
(the African Women’s Development and Communication Network) works as a pan-African net-
work that focuses on economic development and justice, gender violence, and sexual and repro-
ductive health.56 The network began in the 1980s as a way for African feminists to collaborate in
anticipation of the UN World Conferences on Women, and it continues to work with the CSW to
implement the Beijing Platform and monitor the actions of states and regional organizations. Oth-
er activities of FEMNET include promoting the participation and empowerment of young women,
particularly choosing them to be speakers on panels about women’s issues.57 In 2020, FEMNET
“launched the Pan-African Women COVID-19 Online Hub,” which is “a one-stop platform con-
taining critical information resources about COVID-19 in Africa from gender and feminist perspec-
tives.”58 Tensions in the network demonstrate the complex nature of transnational collaboration.
Some activists in Africa are beset by worries that feminism is too elitist and/or foreign and that the
“othering” notion of the “perpetually poor, powerless and pregnant” woman obscures the agency
of women from the continent.59
Skills of Transnational Feminism
In addition to contextual knowledge of the broad contours of transnational feminism and specific
examples of local activisms, a civic engagement pedagogy grounded in transnational feminism
requires the skill of reflexivity or “the knowledge of one’s own identity and how one is “position[ed]
in the social world”, i.e., one’s positionality.60 Social scientists constructing ethnographies believe
that they must convey their positionality in order to capture the ways in which their identities and
views about the social world impact research findings. In a similar way, students’ positionalities
impact their comprehension of course content and their ability to communicate with others;
without awareness of one’s own personal identities and experiences, we run the risk of ignoring
the complex experiences of others, disregarding intersectional discriminations, and failing to
take actions against inequalities. Reflexivity is our pedagogy’s means of preventing students from
acting like hobbyists who know many facts about the world but are unaware of how their own
identities shape what they know and believe and of how much situated knowledge others have and
can contribute to conversations and collaborations. Techniques on how to encourage students to
become reflexive vary, but scholarship shows that “personal work” through journaling, for example,
helps students to “reflect on their personal orientations, behaviors, and attitudes” as they relate to
“race and racism” and to act towards social justice.61
We consider feminist empathy, an important second skill, to be a process of imagination that
builds “sensitivity to injustices suffered in [the] daily” lives of local populations, particularly wom-
en, and magnifies people’s voices in an attempt to transform structures of inequality.62 Empathy
occurs when a person, through imagination, “enters into the experiential world of another.”63 Our
conception of feminist empathy is related to global empathy, defined by Zappile and Beers as “the
desire to supportively engage with an “other” who lives outside of one’s state”;64 however, we stress
that feminist empathy is not passive but active. A person with feminist empathy goes “beyond ap-
preciation” and awareness of another person to listening and amplifying others’ voices in cultural
and institutional contexts where they lack representation and/or power silences them.65 The end
result of empathy should be to insert women into contexts of power and to provide a check on po-
Stop Training Global Political Hobbyists! 25
litical and social practices working against women’s empowerment.
Two examples of empathy in practice demonstrate how entering the world of another per-
son and seeking to understand her can lead to greater voice for women. The historical example of
South African women working with British feminists is instructive. The British journalist Winifred
Holtby (1898–1935) worked with labor activists in South Africa as she traveled worldwide to make
speeches about labor rights. When she met with South Africans, she listened to them describe ra-
cial injustices and went on to write about intersections of class, race, and gender.66 Though Holtby
was a first-wave feminist with an eye to universal human rights and not a transnational feminist
of difference, she demonstrates an incipient understanding of intersectionality and the process of
listening to the lived experiences of another and voicing them to those in power. In a similar way,
the #MeToo movement is an example of listening and empathy. In fact, Tarana “Burke launched
the MeToo campaign in 2006 to achieve ‘empowerment through empathy’ for sexual assault sur-
vivors.”67 Burke “defines empathy as that feeling of sharing an experience, of being in one’s same
shoes.”68 In South Korea, empathy compelled women who did not have #MeToo experiences of
assault to share support for friends who did by posting #WithYou on Twitter.69 Feminist empathy
therefore pushes beyond the factual knowledge of hobbyism in that it asks students to feel—to
listen, to process the feelings of others, and to support them in some way.
We acknowledge that practicing empathy can be intimidating and tricky. We are asserting a
civic engagement pedagogy that asks students to engage emotions related to their own and others’
lives and to do so by dialoguing with activists around the world to confront power hierarchies that
have caused real life pain and distress. Walking in another’s shoes as a way to begin transnational
collaborations admittedly can be intimidating because dialogue with people who may or may not
be like oneself and about topics that provoke emotions (e.g., sexual violence, war, etc.) is not easy.
This is why we suggested that educators first equip students with knowledge about transnational
feminist activism and then work on the skills of reflexivity and empathy. Having knowledge about
the ills caused by patriarchy, colonialism, and racism and how feminists have responded to them
prepares a student to process emotions regarding how these same ills challenge them personally
as well as women throughout the world. The skill of empathy gives rise to action, which is not easy
(see below) but acts as an empowering salve to inspire activism and motivate change.
Empathy is tricky because too little and too much of it perplexes transnational collaborations.70
Too little empathy or empathy practiced in a passive way can lead to “sentimental attachment to
the other, rather than a genuine engagement with her concerns” or even an exotic gaze reminiscent
of colonial oppression.71 For students, such sentimental attachment might constitute what “Chan-
dra Mohanty has analyzed as the ‘feminist-as-tourist’ curricular model” in which students become
like old-school US and European feminists who see activists in other parts of the world as the “oth-
er.”72 Yet too much identification with another woman, or rather trying to embody her or actually
be her, can lead to cultural appropriations which are inappropriate.73 For these reasons, cultivating
empathy—whether called global empathy or feminist empathy—is far from automatic. As Gerdes et
al. explain, practicing empathy involves both a physiological response and a conscious choice, thus
developing empathy requires growing neurological pathways conducive to empathy.74 These path-
ways are best built through practice and experiential learning that increases “self/other-awareness
and emotion regulation.”75 This is why we suggest that students understand their positionality
through reflexivity and practice listening to women from a variety of social positions (through
readings, films, art, etc.) before beginning face-to-face or online transnational collaborations (see
engagement activities below).
In addition to reflexivity and empathy, we believe that students benefit from cross-cultural
and/or civic communication skills. University campuses in the United States, for example, are in-
creasingly likely to offer courses on intergroup dialogue, where similar skills of reflexivity, listen-
ing, and empathy are cultivated to facilitate understanding across demographic differences in the
United States. Meanwhile Communications departments with concentrations in public engage-
ment may offer courses on deliberative dialogue and/or cross-cultural communication, which teach
students a transferrable skill set that could also be used to facilitate transnational activism.