Mark Saey | Civiclab

1. Subject

Together with the team and the pupils (of a class or year group) choose a relevant subject to work on world citizenship.

1.1. World citizenship

1.1.1. Two descriptions of (world) citizenship:

‘Citizenship is being open to the political, economic, social and cultural life of ones society an being ready to participate in it. Citizenship thus presupposes an understanding of those four dimensions and an understanding of the principal rules that govern our judicial system and democratic order. (…) The goal of citizenship education is to raise children to become critical citizens who are prepared and capable to think and act constructively in the democratic constitutional state as it operates today within the international community.’ (, website of the Flemish Ministry of Education)

‘ (…) the common denominator is educating upcoming citizens who will participate more critically and active in the political life of the local to the global community. Citizens who understand that what happens locally more and more has a global dimension and who will engage themselves with more knowledge and sense of duty for the common future of all equals, that is: all people as citizens of a, by all so-called national societies, shared community.’ (JWW, p.61)


1.1.2. A working definition

World citizenship in our usage is not the same as actually being a citizen of the world, for there is no global state or government of which one can be an official citizen.

But every citizen today should understand that all people are members of a global society (a world-system) that develops unequally and should realize that therefore righteousness is also a global issue. That is our working definition.

To live with that understanding means that on every level or scale, the local to the international and transnational, one accounts for the global context and the democratic rights – the universal human rights – of all.

1.1.3. The practical integral (complexity reducing description) for all citizenship education matrixes

World citizenship understood that way is the integral for all mentioned matrixes. All the skills, values, attitudes and knowledge combined in those matrixes may not mention it in theory but cannot but mean in practice that the goal is to educate young people to become world citizens.

1.2. Start with the subject

Therefore, first search with the team and pupils for a relevant subject: which subject(s) will bring into view the unequal development of this now global world?

‘The social subject should, next to keep going the interest and engagement of the pupils, be intrinsically rich enough to bring into view (an explanation of) the world in all its dimensions (social, political, historical, judicial, economical, ecological, cultural).’ (JWW, p.123)

There are many such subjects, but the selection can be helpen with two other criteria:

a) choose a subject that can easily be connected to a concrete social problem in school or the neighborhood, so that you will be able to build a practical context for use

b) choose a subject on the frontline of one of the three main social fractures of our present-day society [1]:

  • Open-closed society (diversity, refugees, crisis of democracy, …)
  • Labour-capital (inequality, poverty, …)
  • Green economy-just transition (greenhouse effect, urbanisation, commons, …)

Ideally all three fractures should be covered during the last four years of secondary education – so that the dimensions, scales and oppositions will be sufficiently addressed in what is a thematic approach.[2

So, one dus NOT first try and find a way through the labyrinths of the existing matrices for (world)citizenship education, but rather searches for a well chosen subject and/or problem to work on with many disciplines or courses according to the working definition, context of use and social fractures. The items describing skills in the many matrices will quasi automatically be induced by the method WELT uses to divide the work over the several courses (a moral step by step plan). And the items describing content will be covered thanks to the well chosen subject and sound analyses of the problem in all its dimensions – by which one moves from the local over the regional/national to the global and back.

Learning line

For a learning line over the several years of secondary education we advise the following:

  • first two years: focus on the local level, and ‘good goals’
  • third and fourth years: focus on the nationale level, and ‘left vs. right’
  • last two years: focus on the global level, and ‘ideology and party’

When it comes to learning lines, there are no dogma’s and every school will consider the problems it faces or are most urgent.

In Part II of this manual we take ‘refugees and people without legal residence’ to illustrate the relevant subject.

1.3. Subject description and a glocal approach

a) Within the team, make a useful short description of the chosen subject in which the dimensions can be observed – a summary of some literature on the subject, no longer than one or two pages.

b) Start developing the didactical approach by writing down in the most general way how the team will approach this subject “glocally”: starting from a local problem moving to a global understanding returning to an informed world citizen’s opinion on the matter – also on no more than one or two pages.

These two fundamental parts are meant to secure the purposiveness of the LWZ: to have enough clarity a) on exactly what it is one shall be working and b) how one will induce world citizenship.

In the second part of this manual we will of course provide an example of both a) and b).

[1] For the theory of these three social fractures, see Corijn E. en Saey P. (red.): Wereldvreemd in Vlaanderen, Berchem: EPO.

[2] A thematic approach has the advantage of being able to focus and engage kids more, but compared to the approach of the classic curriculum runs the risk of insufficient theoretical learning. That is also why we consider WELT to be but a 10% layer to support the curriculum and, as a context for use of it, show its relevance in times of political apathy, cynicism and extremism. It is not meant to replace the curriculum, let alone simply submit it to whatever social or political demand, it is meant to support (the learning in) it. It is both the platform where curriculum and society meet and the buffer against social pragmatism – to remind society of the enlightenment goals of education and secure education firmer on its emancipatory foundations.