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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Global education as moral education: building a community of concern Darling, Linda


In this dissertation, I construct and defend a conception of global education as a moral enterprise. I argue that the ethical and political commitments which should be at the heart of programs have not been made explicit or central. Fundamental commitments to democracy are incompatible with global education that focuses mainly on existing world systems and relationships, and promotes national interests. The foundations of global education should be those that underlie projects of communicative ethics, defined here as frameworks for uncoerced communication between particular individuals in actual contexts. On this view, global education is education toward just and respectful exchanges across social, political, and cultural differences. A central feature of this conception is the development of a defensible global perspective. To attain such a perspective is, in part, to develop the sensitivities and dispositions that will help one understand and appreciate another’s point of view. This kind of understanding can only be partial and is often problematic. There is always the possibility of misunderstanding, even incommensurability. Further, understanding does not entail agreement. Dialogue needs to proceed cautiously and with awareness of the potential for coercion. Nevertheless, it is hoped that educational efforts toward communicating with others will lead to the mutual recognition of some commonalities, and may eventuate in the construction of a limited global community of concern. There are a number of communicative virtues necessary for listening and speaking to individuals who are beyond the boundaries of our existing local and national concerns. The three moral dispositions presented here are especially important. Empathy, tolerance, and a sense of justice are discussed in terms of meeting the challenges of communicating across differences and distance. Classrooms are places where these virtues can be carefully cultivated, and where the possibilities for constructing community can be explored through defensible programs of global education.

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