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Charity, Justice and Global Citizenship


We need an approach to ending poverty that is "framed not in terms of charity but in terms of justice, and focused not on symptoms but on systems.”
Jason Hickell, 2015

The actions that we take are shaped by the way that we see the world, each other and our place in it. Catholic Schools have an exciting opportunity to facilitate students to ignite a deep connection between faith, their world view, their essential inter-connectedness with the planet and the global issues that are at the root of poverty and injustice.

Global Education can help students identify and understand the systems that perpetuate poverty. A robust and comprehensive student immersion experience that occurs within a broader education program can have an indelible impact on students worldview. It has the potential to influence a young person who will in future be interacting, affecting and responding to the structures and systems in our world. It can equip students to develop a justice perspective and take informed, compassionate and committed positive action in solidarity with our one human family.

A person taking action from a justice perspective is aware of and thinks critically about issues and complexities of poverty, inequality and injustice. They are aware of complex global structures and unequal power relations. A person who has developed a justice perspective understands that working towards the common good requires looking beyond personal interests.

The notion of a justice perspective is echoed in educational pedagogy, by Andreotti’s (2006) framework of ‘soft and critical global citizenship education’. 

In contrast to a justice perspective or critical global citizenship, Andreotti’s framework of ‘soft’ global citizenship is one where the understanding of poverty - and therefore their actions in response to it- is limited.  A person seeing and responding to the world from 'soft global citizenship' acts out of emotion, and sympathy to the 'other'. The 'poor' are considered the helpless, unfortunate- not having the same developments in technology and medicine that the ‘we’ has been able to acquire. It reinforces the idea that change is only possible from the outside- a powerful giver helping a grateful receiver, working towards the standard of living that the giver experiences. Soft global citizenship is founded on a feeling of self importance, self righteousness and ultimately although subconsciously, cultural superiority. Therefore their actions will be charitable, but perhaps inconsistent and limited to convenience.


Discuss:

Consider the following diagrams and discuss: 

  • What connections can you make between what is represented and your idea of an ideal catholic school graduate?
  • What challenges you?
  • What questions do you have?
  • What kind of perspective does your student immersion program foster and how does it fit into your ideal of a catholic school graduate?
  • How does your student immersion program support critical global citizenship and a justice perspective?
  • In what areas could the program be strengthened?


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solidarity_working_together

Solidarity "is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.
Saint John Paul II - Sollicitudo rei socialis.

Developing a justice perspective is a lifelong process. The incremental learning experiences students are provided with have a significant impact on this process. The educational and formation objectives of student immersions can be compromised if we do not have a firm commitment to supporting students to develop and act from a justice perspective.