Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices, Vol 5, No 2 (2011)

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Global skills: From economic competitiveness to cultural understanding and critical pedagogy

Douglas Bourn


The global economic crisis of 2008 and 2009 has heightened the need for all sectors of education and learning to address their relationship to the skills for living and working in a global society and global economy.  Recognising the wealth of literature and range of views and perspectives on globalisation, this paper summarises recent research in the UK on what is meant by global skills and how it is perceived within further and higher education. It suggests that there is evidence, despite the influence of a dominant neo-liberal agenda around skills and learning, of engagement by educational practitioners and some policy-makers in an approach that makes connections to critical pedagogical thinking and transformative learning. The article concludes by suggesting that learning within a global society needs to make connections with the impact of globalisation at economic, social and cultural levels, and needs to recognise the importance of different viewpoints and perspectives, and personal empowerment.

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Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices is a non-commercial initiative committed to the ethical dissemination of academic research and educational thinking. CLTP acknowledges the thoughtful dedication of authors, editors and reviewers to develop and promote this open journal initiative. The journal receives copy-editing sponsorship from the Faculty of Education at the University of Oulu, Finland. CLTP has previously received  copy editing support from the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice at the University of Nottingham, UK.