As the world becomes smaller, our role in it—and the role of our students—must become larger. To this end, we will strive to become an internationally recognized leader in education that places a strong emphasis on global citizenship, social justice, and equity.– Centennial College’s Book of Commitments*
As globalization has expanded and increased, the level of interconnectedness among people and countries has led to broad concerns about the issue of citizenship. It has now become incumbent upon post-secondary institutions to educate and provide tools for students to become responsible global citizens. As Martha Nussbaum (1997) suggests, colleges are not just producing students; they are also producing citizens, and as such, “we must ask what a good citizen of the present day should be and should know” (p. 8). This was the very statement that Centennial College was encouraged to explore in 2004. The dialogue began within the college community and resulted in the development of the Signature Learning Experience (SLE), focusing on global citizenship, equity, and inclusion. The SLE came to be incorporated into all areas of academic and college life. Today, Centennial College continues to effectively cultivate global citizenship and Indigenous principles within the college leadership and culture and has established itself as an activist college.
At Centennial, our administrators, faculty, and staff are committed to educating our students to achieve a broader understanding of the social issues that challenge us in the 21st century, including “human rights/equity, peace/justice, environment/energy/technology and poverty” (Singh, 2008, p. xi). Learning about issues such as injustice, power and diversity—about the globalized world in which we live—is a necessity because students will inevitably be confronted with these issues and will be required to think critically in their personal and professional lives. This is reinforced in Centennial’s vision of “transforming lives and communities through learning.” The college recognizes the value in engaging in decolonizing educational systems and structures (Book of Commitments, 2019–2024). Hence, every student in the college participates in the SLE.
One of the key initiatives of the SLE is our college-mandated General Education course titled Global Citizenship: From Social Analysis to Social Action (GNED 500) for which this textbook is written. This course provides students with the skills, knowledge and education that will allow them to achieve a greater global consciousness and to strive towards change. Employers seek graduates with an understanding of global issues that contribute to their leadership and interpersonal skills. In response to employer need, Centennial College has created conditions of inclusion in our classrooms, so that students can become well-rounded global citizens.
Meera Mather and Kisha McPherson
Preface in Global Citizenship: From Social Analysis to Social Action (2021) by Centennial College, Meera Mather and Kisha McPherson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) unless otherwise stated.
This preface is an adaptation of the “Preface,” by Meera Mather, in Global Citizenship: From Social Analysis to Social Action © 2015 by Centennial College.
Centennial College. (2019). Our book of commitments (3rd ed.). https://www.centennialcollege.ca/about-centennial/corporate-information/publications/book-of-commitments/
Global Education First Initiative. (2015, September 23). Global citizenship education [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPdtGrnj7sU
Nussbaum, M. C. (1997). Cultivating humanity: A classical defense of reform in liberal education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Singh, C. (2008). Introduction: Becoming socially literate. In Centennial College, Global citizenship: From social analysis to social action (2nd ed., p. xii). Toronto: Pearson Custom Publishing.