What is Global Competence?

By: Jim Reese

What do we mean by the term global competence? Project Zero researcher Veronica Boix Mansilla and Tony Jackson of the Asia Society created a definition in their 2011 book, Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Young People to Engage the World: “Global competence is the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance” (p. xi).

That important 2011 work also includes a framework for educating for global competence, as well as myriad examples, across disciplines and grade levels, of the framework in action.

At Washington International School, Boix Mansilla has worked directly with teachers to consider ways to approach global competence education. She has also been a keynote speaker at each WISSIT since its inception in 2014. In fact, one of the two main themes of WISSIT is “Educating for Global Competence,” with two attendant questions: How do learners demonstrate global competence? How do educators ensure that learners in their charge explore complex issues of global significance through multiple perspectives?

Given the world we live in today, it is more important than ever that we prepare young people to know how to investigate the world, to communicate their ideas, to recognize various perspectives, and to take action—the four key elements of the global competence framework.

The three projects the Professional Development Collaborative currently manages or supports all have global competence at their core:
• Children Are Citizens: Children and Teachers Collaborating Across Washington, DC, focused on early childhood and lower elementary classrooms, aims to engage our youngest citizens with their home city, the nation’s capital, and to build in those children a sense of what it means to be a good citizen. Project Zero researchers Mara Krechevsky and Ben Mardell conceived the project and have led it since its inception in 2014.
• The World in DC: Toward a New Approach to Locally-Grounded Global Competence Education is a collaboration between the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) and Project Zero that seeks to advance an innovative approach to nurturing global competence among K-12 educators and students. Project Zero researcher Veronica Boix Mansilla leads the project.
• Engaging the Arts and Museums with the World in Mind partners classroom teachers and museum educators to explore ways to leverage museum collections in an effort to educate for global competence. Veronica Boix Mansilla and Jim Reese co-lead.