Are WE the world? A critical reflection on selfhood and global citizenship education


  • Chenyu Wang University of Virginia
  • Diane M. Hoffman University of Virginia



global citizenship education, selfhood, critical reflection, curriculum


Although much debate exists on the conceptualization, nature, and goals of global citizenship education, there has been widespread support for incorporating ideals of global citizenship into the practices, texts, and curricula of U.S. schools and universities. This article offers an interpretive discourse-based critique of ideas of selfhood underlying global citizenship education. Based on analyses of two U.S. high school curricula and materials available on websites devoted to global citizenship, we develop a critique of universalizing constructs of selfhood that underlie global citizenship discourse.  These assumptions obscure reflection on dynamics of social class privilege that shape global citizenship activism and situate global citizenship education as a potentially counter-productive neoliberal discourse. The article concludes with recommendations for practitioners interested in developing a more self-reflective and critical global citizenship education.


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Author Biographies

Chenyu Wang, University of Virginia

Chenyu Wang is a PhD candidate in Social Foundations of Education program, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia. She studies comparative and international education through an anthropological lens. Her academic interests are anthropology of education, global citizenship education, international development and service-learning projects, and images of “model minorities”. In her dissertation, Chenyu explores ways in which U.S.-educated Chinese undergraduate students engage in educational development projects in rural China.

Diane M. Hoffman, University of Virginia

Diane M. Hoffman is an anthropologist of education with interests in multiculturalism and the globalization of educational ideas and practices, especially as they intersect with notions of self and identity. She explores the underlying cultural constructions and assumptions that shape education in school and non-school contexts. She has conducted fieldwork in the United States, East Asia (Japan and South Korea), and Haiti, where she has been engaged since 2008 in studying the lives of out-of-school children and youth.  




How to Cite

Wang, C., & Hoffman, D. M. (2016). Are WE the world? A critical reflection on selfhood and global citizenship education. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 24, 56.



Education for Global Citizenship