What type of democratic citizenship education? What type of democratic citizen?

Henry Maitles


Education for citizenship remains a high priority throughout much of the world. Whilst Education for Citizenship has primarily been developed for schools, most countries recognize its significance in postcompulsory education. However, in higher education, there can be a tendency for the aims to be less explicit than in schools. This raises questions as to the role of higher education in the on-going development of democratic citizenship.

Education for Citizenship courses are prevalent in Teacher Education Institutions, primarily because of the ongoing developments in schools. However, many other faculties and departments also recognize the importance of components of Education for Citizenship relating higher education learning to the significant issues of the contemporary world, such as service learning and activities in the wider community, alongside active, problem-based, interdisciplinary learning in the tutorial rooms.

Whilst there is some research that suggests very good practice, there is a variance across countries and indeed within countries as to both theory and practice. In particular, ‘global citizenship’ becomes a phrase used to enhance international recruitment without any real democratic content, which is particularly problematic in a neoliberal, consumerist agenda. This paper raises the key arguments for global democratic citizenship in higher education and critically examines university management commitment to democratic citizenship as understood by university academics committed to citizenship education.


Citizenship; higher education; values; active learning; democracy

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.26220/aca.2823

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