Global Education as a Transformative Learning

Alicia Cabezudo, global education, human rights, global education magazine, Global Education as a Transformative Learning,Prof. Dr. Alicia Cabezudo 

Consultant on Global Education / North South Centre of the Council of Europe / Lisboa

International Peace Bureau – IPB Geneva. Vice President

School of Education / University of Rosario. Rosario, Argentina


There is a lot of terminology associated with the process of developing a new consciousness on Global Education to add and join to the strongly national-regional education which has characterised much of education systems worldwid. 

In this Guideline we want to look at the notion of transformative learning in developing the concept of Global Education and will argue that the relationship with diversity and multiculturalism is a vital starting point for approaching the main themes in our field. 

Riane Eisler describes the challenge of the age as one of moving from a dominator culture to one of working in partnership. Working in partnership is one of the main goals in Global Education. The ‘dominator model’ according to her is reflected in the patriarchal structures of power, a hierarchy based on the threat or use of force.  She has written of this ‘dominator culture’ as a historical interpretation of cultural violence (Galtung, J), something deeply ingrained in and within the social, cultural and economic institutions of all or most societies. The pattern is very clear in the education systems where global themes and building consciousness on world problems are not relevant in comparison with micro-national visions of different themes that don’t lead to international understanding and cooperation within nations and peoples. 

The violence inherent in domination -reproduced many times in educational systems exists in so many different facets of our culture and is deep within the structures of globalised societies. It is there in the way we abuse the natural world, in the drive for profit above all else, in market values, sexual slavery and overflowing prisons. It is also in the competitive educational institutions where knowledge is consumed as an unchallenged commodity to be sold to the highest bidder. And yet there are more and more grassroots examples of people working together to create small and growing networks to challenge the power – model.

Global Education must then be about the transformative vision required to move to a model of partnership between people, cultures, religions, within institutions at micro and macro levels. The project of western education has to a large extent been one of separating ourselves from each other and creating an adversarial relationship between peoples particularly if they belong on different cultures or ways of thinking. 

By separating subjects and categorizing knowledge we have created hierarchies of knowledge and devalued another “ways of knowing”. The detachment that is created through the process of the banking system ( Freire P.) of education does not locate us in a connected world and we have been unable to make the important connections that are so important.

Transformative learning as part of Global Education involving a deep, structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feelings and action . This implies a real change in perspective towards a radical interconnectedness and a real sense of the possibilities of social justice and peace. The three moments of transformative learning are defined as 

  • The critique of the dominant culture’s formative appropriateness
  • A vision of what an alternative to the dominant form might look like
  • A process of change to create a new cultural form that is formally appropriate 

This seems to correspond well to the Haavelsrud conceptual framework on Peace Education where diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive knowledge are so important. Problem orientation and participatory decision-making are intrinsically present in such a framework. We have to be able to critically examine the current reality and creatively explore how to move beyond this. 

The goal of this kind of learning is to develop connections between people in order to globalize peace, care and compassion. By creating these connections in circles of co-operation and solidarity instead of dividing people through competition, conflict, fear and hatred peace learning can face the challenge of greed, inequality and over-consumption.

Transformative learning offers a way to move away from domination to embrace partnership. The transformation may occur at micro levels to influence the macro in the sense of creating citizenship who take on the responsibility that cannot be left to governments. At the same time we need to work at macro levels too by bringing the ideas of Participatory Democracy into the mainstream. At the moment we have so many different branches of education working for their own agendas: development education, human rights education, environmental education, citizenship education, gender education, interfaith education, etc. These need to define the common ground of – Global Education to create a real impact on the formal education system. At the same time non-formal education has a huge role to play in bringing people towards a wider understanding of their real power to influence the future.

But Global Education is not only about global themes, world problems and how to find solutions altogether – it is also about to envision a common future of Peace and Justice for All connecting micro-macro perspectives. And how to make this vision real and possible starting from our small spot in the world. 

A focus on the kind of future we want is therefore crucial in such a transformative vision tighted to Global Education. The dream drives the vision in this sense and the collective imagination must apply itself to the dream. 

Global Education can contribute to the visioning process, but it can also play a role in the critique and the creation of new forms where social movements , indigenous and community – non-formal learning approaches – are essential as they allow for values not central to formal learning and give voice to the collective and marginalized . 

If Global Education shift the focus onto the transformation from a culture of reproduction and domination to one of partnership we are changing the general rules – transforming the value system underlying the global economy to make it compatible with the demands of human dignity we all ask for. 

We need to see Global Education as part of a wider system-based thinking, deepening learnings linked to  peace, justice and freedom. Participation is the key to enrichment through the power of this learning. The praxis becomes more coherent within this perspective and allows for a dialogue between formal and non-formal education.


Cabezudo, A. (2015). Towards Global Learning – On Democracy and Education. University of Rosario / School of Education, Rosario.Argentina. In process 

Eisler,R. (1988 )The Chalice and the Blade, Harper and Row, San Francisco

Freire, Paulo (1972 )  Pedagogy of Opressed ,NYC, First edition.

Galtung, Johan ( 2000)  Conflict Transformation by Peaceful Means, Geneva, ONU.

Haavelsrud, M. (1995 )The Substance of Peace Education , in International Educator, Vol 2.


** Parts of this article were published in the Global Education Guidelines. A Handbook for Educators to understand and Implement Global Education. Edited by the North South Centre of the Council of Europe, Lisbon. Revised new version, December 2011, Barcelona ( Spain).

This article was published on 21stSeptember International Day of Peace, in Global Education Magazine.

Comments are closed.

Supported by

Edited by:

Enjoy Our Newsletters!

navegacion-segura-google navegacion-segura-mcafee-siteadvisor navegacion-segura-norton