Social Studies

Social studies, the traditional home of “global education,” includes many courses and topics that lend themselves readily to teaching about the world. The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) identifies history, geography, civics and government, economics, and psychology as the subject areas associated with social studies education. Few teachers, however, have received specialized training during their certification preparation to teach these areas in a global context. Thus for many years, globalizing the curriculum has been the province of professional development for practicing teachers. Social studies teachers often rely on in-service training programs, such as those offered through Title VI National Resource Centers, to gain the skills needed to teach social studies in a manner than includes international perspectives.

Social studies education organizations advocate for providing global perspectives in the field. For example, NCSS has developed a position statement on the issue that argues, "an effective social studies program must include global and international education...because the day-to-day lives of average citizens around the world are influenced by burgeoning international connections."  This is important because students must develop, "the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed for responsible participation in a democratic society and in a global community in the twenty-first century."  They offer regional and local conferences and a comprehensive webstie that provide teachers and teacher educators resources on how to provide facilitate global learning in their social studies classrooms. 

NCCS also published a National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies Teachers that identifies themes that make up effective social studies curricula, many of which are globally focused or infused with global themes.  Many other organizations in the field offer resources to educators as well.  

Online technology promote new kinds of dialogue as teacher educators explore ways to bring multiple perspectives and global issues into their teaching. The Ohio State University offers a Professional Development School that connects teachers and teacher candidates around the world.  Pre-service teachers use Skype to learn and collaborate with teacher and teacher educators in Durban, South Africa.  In addition to providing professional development, the goal of the program is “improve classroom instruction and strengthen the knowledge base in social studies and global education through collaborative inquiry and action research.” 

Some teacher educators also use innovative strategies to engage future teachers and introduce them to global perspectives in their methods courses.  Jason Harshman, an instructor in social studies methods at the Ohio State University, uses an "Agents of Global Awareness" activity to teach students about global interconnectedness using critical thinking while considering local surroundings.  The class' experience with the activity is shared on social media to encourage further reflection.

While there are promising practices, there is still a great deal that needs to be done social studies education for pre-service teachers to ensure students are exposed to global - as well as local - perspectives in the social studies subject areas. 

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