Citizenship education has been traditionally associated with ‘civic education’, that is the teaching of constitutional forms and positive state-society relations. Three categories are linked to civics education. The first one is civic knowledge, which entails the knowledge of basic concepts informing the practice of positive state-society relations such as public participation, citizenship rights and obligations, constitutional separation of powers, and the placement of state-society relations in an economy that is used as the basic premise of civil society. The second category associated with citizenship building is civic skills, which usually mean the intellectual and participatory skills that facilitate citizenship’s judgment and actions. The last category is civic virtues, usually defined around principles such as self-discipline, compassion, civility, tolerance, solidarity, listening, and respect.
The GCEN will help to refine and expand these principles across cultures through a variety of online and face-to-face forums. In doing so, GCEN is a place where research meets practice, addressing a number of questions. For instance, how will citizenship building be included and defined within global citizenship education? How has the concept of GCE been incorporated in the contemporary discourses circulating and competing in the international system, governments, civil society, academia, and schools? What are the roles and impacts of UNESCO and the UNITED NATIONS on promoting GCE and Education for Sustainable Development?
These themes are connected with the dominant agendas in the multiple globalizations that we are experiencing and slowly but surely are altering the way we understand education and learning in the 21st century. Thematic foci include themes that are also connected to the controversies around citizenship building, including diversity and the dilemmas of multiculturalism. GCEN will investigate and gain insight into challenges and reactions of educators and citizens of goodwill who are confronted with episodes and systems of violence, brutal intolerance, social alienation, ethnic-nationalism, tribalism, and violent fundamentalism of all stripes. Additional themes will interact with the responsibilities of universities and adult learning systems in promoting citizenship building, but also with the responsibilities of governments, corporations, institutions of civil society, and institutions of the global system in securing development and peace through sustainable and equitable governance.