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who? what?

This page originally authored by Shari Virjee (March 2008)

The term "Citizenship Diversity" is open to interpretation at this point. For some, it conjures up confusion; for others, it serves to reinforce universal human rights. As a new term unto itself, it does not yet appear widely in education discourse today. However, the two words are regularly used together, often with an ampersand [&] or a comma between them, as 'Citizenship & Diversity' or 'Citizenship, Diversity' and often alongside other terms such as Globalization, Democracy, and Pluralism.

This new term suggests trends in education, in order to be able "to respond to the growing demand from our students for opportunities to engage in relevant, meaningful activities that enhance their global perspective and help them contribute to building a more peaceful, environmentally secure and just world. And it is precisely the “soft skills” associated with becoming active, responsible global citizens that employers are increasingly looking for in prospective employees" and to “support new academic programs with a global perspective.” [1]

This page will attempt to give meaning to the term "Citizenship Diversity" in the context of educational realities, drawing on examples from multicultural, immigrant-receiving, and former colonial countries and societies in both the developed, and developing world, specifically Canada, Australia and the Philippines.

An attempt to define the terms

The following passages are an attempt to give meaning to the concept of citizenship diversity, and the benefits of supporting such a concept in the context of education.

Citizenship "Citizenship is about belonging to a country and having that belonging recognised." Gore (1996)

"The development of economic and social blocks like the EEC (sic; now the EU) take this basic meaning of citizenship beyond the single nation. The concept of a citizen of a nation state is limited and outdated in a world brought together by communications and technology that encourage mobility and undermine loyalties." Ibid

Diversity Divided loyalties can be positive and even lead to international norms and that elusive world opinion. Yet, more importantly recognition of similarities can lead to an acceptance of difference and international community. Ibid

Pluralism “Pluralism is the principle that binds our diverse people together. It is elemental to our civil society and economic strength.” Harper (2006)

Those who promote global citizenship focus on issues such as human rights, trade and travel to draw the common bonds between all peoples. Yet these alone do not make citizens of a global community. A much greater understanding of difference will be needed to identify citizens of the world. Intercultural understanding will need a much greater emphasis in the curriculum of all countries. This focus should be on what we share in common so that difference is recognised as being legitimate and accepted. Gore (1996)

Citizenship Diversity [Australia, Canada] is an adolescent country, where the internal paradoxes of citizenship speak of reaching for but not yet obtaining maturity. To establish a clear identity in the world Australia needs to know and deal with its past so that it is focussed on the future. It is this future that may see Australians as citizens of a wider region, a region focussed on trade and political alliance, a region in which travel is possible without visas and where the exchange of ideas, education and culture is encouraged, a region that recognises common human rights and values democratic processes, and a region that accepts difference and focuses on the features of social cohesion. Ibid

Global Citizenship A global ethic of care is the foundation of global citizenship. In addition, global citizenship suggests the development of global citizens who have a set of knowledge, skills and attitudes that makes it possible for them to be actively involved in our world.

... As a starting point for this project, we understand the goals of global citizenship education as the development of someone who:

  • understands she or he shares a common humanity with all others
  • understands diversity to be essential for life
  • understands the rights and responsibilities of citizenship and the local and global implications of these rights and responsibilities
  • recognizes the connection between local and global events and actions
  • views himself or herself as involved and able to participate in the world
  • understands the importance of multiple perspectives, and can access and reflect critically on a diverse range of views and information
  • accepts the responsibility to take action for the common good with regard for local and global consequences.
Defining the Goals of Global Citizenship Education - UofA website

Real-life examples of "Citizenship Diversity"

The term may causes some confusion around the concept of "citizenship". Some examples:

  • Immigrants & Permanent Residents
  • A young Canadian girl playing a computer-based "Olympics" game at home with family, and rejoicing when her player (Katerina Witt) wins and my national anthem is played. The national anthem is East Germany's.
  • Repatriating refugees
  • Children of mixed parentage who grow up in third cultures/nations
  • Dual citizens and multiple passport holders
  • Professionals and skilled workers having spent several years away from their home country with infrequent contact to their 'home' culture
  • Children of diplomats and expats growing up (going to school) in foreign countries
  • Non-resident citizens
  • Repatriating citizens

Educational Realities/Impacts on Education

  • International Schools
    • Korean schools in Japan
    • British, American, French schools in former colonial countries
    • Singaporean schools in Vietnam
  • Brain Gain

The idea that immigration flows have great potential for positive effect on host (receiving) countries in terms of bringing not only economic capital but social and intellectual capital as well. [2]

National Constructs, Policies, Institutions



  • Philippine Bureau of Immigration's website has recently been redesigned. How to apply for an Alien Registration card or extend a visa, and the corresponding requirements are clearly laid out on the site.
  • Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO)'s Pre-departure Orientation programs: What do they look like? These one-day, pre-departure seminars are mandatory for all departing citizens from the Philippines. There is a corresponding attendance fee for each member of the family. Some suggest too much emphasis is put on remittances.

A New Vocabulary?

  • Freedom of Mobility & "Global Civil Society": Is Transnationalism the new multiculturalism?

Unlike Canada, many nations' policies do not include bilingualism, multiculturalism, or the protection of the rights of immigrants, refugees and non-citizens in their constitution and rule of law. Other nations remain a complex intertwining of Church and State.

Civil society development is often seen as the required response to the decreasing ability and willingness of the state to provide welfare services and functions. The term 'global civil society,' and a variety of other, related terms has developed. Some new terms from this new vocabulary: transnational advocacy networks, post-national constellations, new multi-lateralism, deterritorialization, social entrepreneurship. [3]

Examples of Learning Resources for Civics and Citizenship Education

Listed here are resources and opportunities that can help to foster harmony in diverse classrooms, and help individual learners to gain self-confidence and strengthen their self-identity.

  1. One World, Many Democracies - Projects Connecting Schools around the World
  2. United World Colleges, founded during the Cold War
  3., Uniting the World's Youth Using Technology is an initiative currently running in the Philippines and Indonesia, two multicultural societies with religious diversity.'s aim is to build understanding between muslim and non-muslim youth.
  4. The Silk Road Project is a multidisciplinary curriculum and resource package with teacher's guide for middle and secondary school students. "Redefining the traditional boundaries of arts education by creating a global network to share the art and history of the trade routes which shaped the modern world."
  5. Global Centre for Pluralism The diagram below suggests that navigating citizenship diversity and pluralism is interdisciplinary and requires the working together of multiple players/stakeholders in society.

Proposed Changes in Education

  • from formal to informal
  • from exclusive to inclusive
  • from restrictive to experiential
  • from instructionist to constructivist
  • promotion of knowledge building, lifelong learning
  • promotion of inter-generational knowledge exchange



Global Reach

Pluralist societies are not accidents of history. They are products of choice that require enlightened education and continuous investments by governments, civil societies and individual citizens in recognizing and celebrating their own diversity. Every multicultural society faces its own particular set of challenges, depending on whether the diversity of the community predates the formation of the state or has come about through immigration. For some, managing diversity is a historical obligation to address the claims of one or more national minorities. For others, such as the newly independent states of Central Asia or European countries struggling to accommodate ethnic and religious minority communities, it is a relatively new preoccupation. -Global Centre for Pluralism

Local is Global

As people continue to cross borders,

  • today's diversity will flourish,
  • social fabrics will look more like mosaics, works of art.
  • local communities will become increasingly global.
  • In the face of these diverse communities around the world, Human Values-based Education may soon find its global niche.
  • National canons (e.g., for literature studies) may change in flavour.

Universal Rights

The persistence of globalization may lead to:

  • more of the world's nations and governments joining international organizations such as the United Nations (UN)
  • a decrease in human rights violations
  • an increase in mutual respect for human dignity and understanding
  • strengthened awareness, and appreciation by the world's populations and for the pluralism of societies (their cultures, religious beliefs, economies, and systems).

Technology & Education

Changes in the use of digital technologies (e.g., from elitism to equitable access to ubiquity; enabling exchange, negotiation, creation and celebration of ideas across time and space) and changes in education (see above section) may well serve as the means to an end -- where the 'end' might one day look like strong citizenship diversity, effective democracies, global citizens, and world peace).

See Also


  • Endriga, Jose N. (ed.) (1998) Lorenzo M. Tañada as Others Saw Him, Quezon City: Kadena Press Foundation (292p)
  • Harper, Stephen (2006). Prime Minister of Canada: New Government Welcomes Global Centre for Pluralism - media release. Retrieved March 2, 2008 from
  • Lalueza, J., Bria, I., Crespo, I., Sanchez, S., Luque, M. (2004). Education as the creation of microcultures. From the local community to the virtual network. Interactive Educational Multimedia, 9, 16-31.
  • New London Group,. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review. 66 (1), 60-92.
  • Papert, S (2003). Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. In N. Waldrip-Fruin & N Montfort (Ed.), The new media reader (414-431), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Rutherford, J. (1990) The Third Space: Interview with Homi Bhubha in Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. London: Lawrence and Wishart, p 28
  • Sari Hanafi, Shaml (200X). Social capital, transnational kinship and refugee repatriation process: some elements for a Palestinian sociology of return. The Palestinian Diaspora and Refugee Center, Ramallah. Retrieved March 2, 2008 from
  • Scardamalia, Marlene and Carl Bereiter (1994). Computer Support for Knowledge-Building Communities. Journal of the Learning Sciences, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 265–283

External Links