Future Ready Learner: 5 Traits of Civic and Global Engagement

Editor’s note: This post is a follow-up from the previous article “Five Domains of a Future Ready Learner”.


By David Reese | April 4th, 2017


My second trip to Istanbul to teach was during the beginning of the crisis in Syria. Thousands upon thousands of refugees were making their way across the border to Turkey.  Many had been settled in a temporary camp just a few miles from the school where I worked.


The teachers and students at my school focused their efforts on helping these refugees.  Toilet paper drives were being prepared – I was shocked to think about the need for toilet paper.  In northeastern Pennsylvania where I’m from, our giving usually involved money and clothing.  Lessons of empathy, ethical responsibility, and contributing to society were happening. The entire school community mobilized and the lessons students learned will last a lifetime.


Flying out I saw the camps and my heart sank.  My knowledge and perception of the world prior to the tip was not accurate – I did not think about this situation in a meaningful way just seeing it on television.  I share this story because our students must know and understand civic responsibility and the world around them; the world outside their door and the world beyond their eyes.


As I reviewed a large number of school systems and educational entities related to civic and global engagement, one idea kept coming up. It is about relationships!  Following are five attributes of a civic and globally engaged learner. The attributes were developed based upon the conducted review. I included a description for each based upon those communicated by systems.


 Five traits of a civic and globally engaged learner:


Ethical/Global Citizen: San Francisco Unified School District defines this attribute as “The ability to navigate and engage in a 21st century global society that is more inclusive and interconnected. They will display an understanding and a respect for different cultures, and possess the ability to connect across, racial, cultural, and linguistic lines.”


Empathy: Coppell Independent School District graduates will “possess a depth of character that promotes empathy and moral leadership and that they will see beyond themselves to the needs of others.”


Civic responsibility/Civic Engagement: The Commonwealth of Virginia encourages the “building of connections and value interactions with others as a responsible and responsive citizen”.


Contributing Member of Society: Cobb County School District identifies a contributing member of society as one who demonstrates respect for self, others, the environment, and responsible authority; uses personal resources and decision-making skills to improve the health/welfare of self and others; and understands the importance of integrity and honesty in dealing with self and others.


Connecting local, national, and global issues: The Asia Society explains this attribute as the ability to “understand how the world’s people and institutions are interconnected and how critical international economic, political, technological, environmental, and social systems operate interdependently across nations and regions”. Further, Fairfax County Public Schools states that this attribute “acknowledges and understands diverse perspectives and cultures when considering local, national, and world issues.”


How do we address these ideas in our schools? If these ideas are part of a purposeful mission and vision than experiences for teachers and students need to follow. Curriculum integration of these ideas can follow the idea of allowing students to consider issues from a local, national, and global perspective. A cross-curricular approach to civic and global engagement is powerful for student learning. Providing students issues and challenges of this nature requires students to apply their knowledge of content while utilizing civic and global engagement attributes to understand how their solutions solve a problem but more importantly impact the people associated with this issue.


Schools can engage in authentic performance tasks to incorporate these ideas in a way that is aligned with the school’s mission, vision, and curriculum. Teachers need to have the opportunity to explore and investigate these issues so they can be prepared contextually to help students understand and succeed. Technology is a great way to bridge any gaps and to bring the world to the classroom. Through professional learning communities (PLC) teachers can explore ideas, link curriculum, and engage students in global issues. Providing educators and students with learning opportunities tied to their lives, their communities, and their world will help create a new generation of civic and globally minded students.



Dr. David L. Reese serves as Chief Academic Officer for Defined Learning. During the past twenty years, Dr. Reese has served K-12 students as a science teacher, Curriculum Specialist, and Central Office Administrator. He has taught Masters and Doctoral courses in all areas of curriculum and professional development leadership. His work focuses on providing students with engaging, relevant learning opportunities designed to encourage students to apply content from a local, national and international perspective.

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