As we embark upon the 21st century, the world is becoming increasingly interconnected. Yet, despite increasing globalization, educational systems are not reflecting this phenomenon. The overwhelming majority of countries, including the United States, still emphasize nationalistic curricula (Parker, 2008; Tye, 2009). Global education is a movement whose supporters advocate an education reflecting the push towards globalization by providing students with the components necessary to live and thrive in an increasingly interconnected world system. Global educators have a common bond as advocates that a global perspective needs to be developed in the classroom. The degree to which this is being done is unknown. Further, how a global educator is prepared and formed is unknown. Unfortunately, there is a lack of research in global education (Gaudelli, 2003).
Personal experiences have a major influence to what a teacher attributes his or her beliefs and values (Lincoln, 2005), and this is an area of study that has not been examined in global education. Using a mixed-methods design that includes a background survey, a global-mindedness survey and interviews would provide a better understanding of what self-identifying global educators attribute their global-mindedness. By presenting a rich account of the perspectives of high school social studies teachers who are involved with a global education initiative, social studies teacher education programs can gain insight about providing the best preparation that will lead to teacher candidates gaining the skills necessary to teach from a global perspective.
The case study presented here consisted of 2 surveys, multiple interviews, and examination of program documents. Analysis resulted in 8 themes identified by the participants as being attributed to the development of a global perspective: (a) family, (b) exposure to diversity, (c) minority status, (d) curious disposition, (e) global education courses, (f) international travel, (g) having a mentor, and (h) professional service. Additionally, the themes were perceived to influence curricular decision making by providing strategies, resources, and empathy towards students.
The participants' perspectives have implications on social studies teacher education programs and future research. These implications include the types of instructional methods, themes, and global dimensions that should be addressed in teacher education programs. Future research should focus on issues underlying the nature of global education courses being taught in social studies teacher education programs, the teaching methods being used by graduates of those programs, and further analysis on emerging themes perceived to be critical in developing a global perspective.