Professor and Non-profit ED Reimagine Global Citizenship Education for U.S. High School Students
“Global citizenship education is essential for creating a world with sustainable peace” (Reimers, et al).
Stacie Freeman, a Tennessee university sociology professor and Catherine Greenberg, a Texas non-profit executive director, joined forces to create an innovative partnership designed to reimagine, even revolutionize, global citizenship education for U.S. high school students.
“In order to effect global change, education must evolve and expand to prepare all young people to create a brighter future,” says Professor Freeman. “We both understood what needed to be done to help solve for this deficit and we felt up to the challenge. Even in this new age of technology, where ideas, money, and goods can be transported around the globe in mere seconds—the term “global citizen” is still commonly misunderstood.”
According to Oxfam Education, “a global citizen is aware of and understands the wider world and their place in it. They take an active role in their community, and work with others to make our planet more equal, fair, and sustainable.” At Bright Light Volunteers (BLV), it is believed that global citizens and leaders are created through high quality, rigorous education coupled with sustainable, international service. Through an innovative partnership with Bethel University (BU), together, they provide a ground-breaking global service learning and citizenship program where high school students enroll in a Global Service Learning and Citizenship course, for college credit or a certificate of global citizenship, prior to volunteering abroad. This unique, multifaceted approach to global citizenship education results in the deep global competence required of tomorrow’s leaders.
Greenberg reports that the BLV-BU partnership is working. Since inception, students who participate inBright Light Volunteers’ Global Service Learning and Citizenship programs report:
- Improved understanding of local, national, and global challenges
- Improved understanding of the interconnectedness of the worlds’ countries and people
- Willingness to act effectively and responsibly on a local, national, and international level
- Increased appreciation and respect for diversity
- Improved critical thinking skills for problem solving, peacemaking, and social responsibility
- Increased empathy for others and the environment
In addition to these findings, 100% of BLV high school participants graduate and attend college. This is especially encouraging in the rural, Title One schools where Freeman and Greenberg are creating opportunities. By all accounts, this dynamic duo really is reshaping the educational landscape and challenging the status quo when it comes to access to global education. “We’re determined to make the world a brighter place,” Greenberg smiles. “One student at a time.”
Bright Light Volunteers is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization, designed to empower program participants and community partners through education and service. Specifically, our programs adhere to global service-learning best practices, which combine community service with both experiential learning in the field and online coursework through our university partner. Our vision is to make the world a brighter place by creating a more peaceful, just, interconnected world where global challenges and opportunities are met by educated, compassionate, global citizens and leaders.
Founded in 1842, Bethel University is a nonprofit institution that is regionally accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Bethel University’s mission is to create opportunities for members of the learning community to develop in a Christian environment their highest intellectual, spiritual, and social potential. This includes synchronous and asynchronous modes of education.