Professor Kennedy presented results of a research project on Hong Kong adolescents’ attitudes on democracy and civic engagement and their political radicalisation. He positioned his presentation as trying to address why and how young people become politically socialised in their transition from secondary schools to universities, and how their attitudes towards citizenship are shaped. The research he was referring to was conducted to seek an answer to the question - what happens in young people’s lives that provokes radical and illegal political actions and whether formal education has a role in this process? Kennedy claimed that there is not enough extant research to enable us to better understand student activism. The question whether a university is an environment more conducive to developing political socialisation than a school remains unanswered. Kennedy noted that schools do not usually engage young people in civic action but only provide civic knowledge. However anecdotal evidence suggests that social media play a crucial role in stimulating activism and engagement. In this light, Kennedy posed a question regarding a declining influence of formal school education on stimulating activism and whether universities can be more effective in this area. Kennedy’s observations about growing radicalism among young people extends beyond Hong Kong because it is a global phenomenon, as seen in examples of student riots in different countries where citizens’ rights are seen to be denied which leads to radical action. Kennedy concluded that GC is an ideology in a world, where the nation state is crucial and where GC is often used around national agendas. GC is aspirational and in that way may stand in conflict with national citizenship – a factor that may pose a challenge to universities seeking to integrate GC into the curriculum. -Discussion: Shiel started the discussion by addressing the challenge of encouraging students to be active and in that way expressing their citizenship and participation in democracy. One way of doing this is to promote volunteering and service-learning that can be meaningful for students and spur selfreflection. It is important that such practices are not a disguise for neoliberalism because the service learning should empower those that are being served. Park added that it is necessary to refer to emotions and psychological motivations that underpin people’s decisions to act or identify themselves as global citizens. A further discussion on the psychological dimension of global citizenship is needed to explore citizenship from a more psychological perspective. Hunter referred to the fact that there is no measurement to assess global citizenship. Various entities attempt to classify GC and measure it in different ways, for example NAFSA classifies GC under the umbrella of Global Confidence (GC is an important criterion here) and Hunter developed the Global Confidence Aptitude Assessment, which places people in simulations and measures how they react to them. He also mentioned the IDI: Intercultural Development Inventory as another measure. Hunter claimed that measuring broader transferable global skills is more important than, for example, merely learning a foreign language. He challenged the group to consider if some type of GC inventory akin to the Intellectual Development Inventory might be a worthwhile endeavour. Some of the attendees voiced support for this idea. The discussion concluded that evolving definitions of global citizenship reflect the dynamic nature of globalisation. Institutions are trying to prepare students and graduates for this new reality. It is up to the HEI researchers to undertake research and inquiry that will further inform policy and practice within institutions.
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2013|