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The current Conference time is: 15th Aug 2022, 12:38:47am CEST

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Parallel session - B.8.1 Transforming Citizenship Through Civic Education. Approaches, Methods, Experiences
Thursday, 03/June/2021:
9:30am - 11:45am

Session Chair: Giovanni Moro
Session Chair: Beatrice Borghi
Location: Room 3

Session Panels:
B.8. Transforming Citizenship Through Civic Education. Approaches, Methods, Experiences

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Sonia Massari1, Elena Cadel2

1Roma Tre University, Italy; 2BCFN Foundation

Global citizenship is a broad term supported by three key pillars: global awareness, social responsibility and civic engagement (Schattle, 2009, Stoner et al., 2014). In a world increasingly interconnected, educating young people to global citizenship is becoming a priority, because new generations need to understand political, economic, social and cultural connections among local, national and global issues in order to make more informed choices. In this context, the food system is a good example for teaching global citizenship. In fact, the way we eat is a common thread for our health and the one of Planet. Healthy and sustainable diets are the base to support effective progress in health, agriculture, inequality, poverty and sustainable development or, ultimately, in the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

“We, food, our Planet” is an educational project designed to educate global citizenship and provide incentives for innovative ways of teaching food sustainability and the SDGs. The project is part of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Italian Ministry for Education. It aims at providing teachers and students (from primary school to university) with a better understanding of the environmental, economic, social and cultural dynamics of the food systems and their impacts on the Agenda 2030. “We, food, our Planet” consists of a set of modules, dedicated to different food-related themes (e.g., environment, health, culture, food right and security). Each module provides science-based information, examples and exercises to be transferred in the school context ( presence and distance learning). All training materials are available in two languages (Italian and English) and have a strong scientific base and are regularly updated to keep pace with a rapidly evolving reality.

Among the provided digital tools, the MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) “Sustainable Food Systems: a Mediterranean Perspective”, developed with the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network Mediterranean, has been included to reinforce the current educational offering by extending the target also to university students. “We, food, our Planet” has been launched in Italy in May 2018. Since then, 8493 Italian teachers joined the program, equivalent to 5791 schools and nearly 425.000 students. Teachers are equally distributed among primary, middle and high schools. With this paper, the author will present the results achieved after 3 years of the program “We, Food, Our Planet”, and will illustrate the feedbacks collected by the teachers who used the proposed tools. In particular, the focus of the paper will be on the results achieved in relation to the skills and competencies needed by teachers to teach civic education and sustainable development at school.


Schattle, H., 2009. Global citizenship in theory and practice. In: Lewin, R. (Ed.), The handbook of practice and research in study abroad: higher education and the quest for global citizenship. Routledge, London, pp. 3–18.

Stoner, L., Perry, L., Wadsworth, D., Stoner, K. R., & Tarrant, M. A. (2014). Global citizenship is key to securing global health: The role of higher education. Preventive medicine, 64, 126-128.


Alessandra Mussi, Chiara Bove, Sara Basaglia

Università degli Studi di Milano Bicocca, Italia

A pedagogy intentionally oriented towards an active, intercultural and inclusive citizenship can represent that paradigm shift able to mend socioeconomical inequalities stressed by the pandemic crisis and to trace sense perspectives that could go beyond the mere capitalistic logic. This presentation will examine the “Global Citizenship Education (GCE)” theory (UNESCO, 2014) and analyze its theoretical assumptions, showing how they come from the Human Capability Approach (Nussbaum, 2009). This theory reveals its strength especially in relation to social contexts that are particularly vulnerable: contexts characterized by housing difficulties, hard multicultural coexistences and fragile socioeconomic conditions. Educational research can support active citizenship by creating participation opportunities through bottom-up empowerment processes and social cohesion trends, starting from the youngest inhabitants. In this approach, girls and boys, who often have recent migration backgrounds, are considered as competent subjects and, moreover, as citizens with the human right of having their voice listened.

In the presentation, this theoretical framework will be combined with insights emerging from an empirical research experience carried out within the interdisciplinary project: “M.O.S.T. of Pioltello” (Di Giovanni, 2018), inside the multicultural and multi-problematic neighborhood of Pioltello ‘Satellite’, next to Milan, Italy. The main goals of the research were: exploring the representations of adults and children about public space; promoting children’s active engagement as experts in their everyday lives; encouraging intercultural dialogue on the use and meaning of public spaces; expanding the role of local schools as key-sites to promote citizenship education and inclusiveness (Bove, 2020). A key action was the co-construction of an active-citizenship out-door laboratorial experience that involved children and teachers of the local schools.

The underlined assumption was that public spaces reveal a special educational potential in particular in the field of Global Citizenship Education when children can act as competent stakeholders thus expressing their voices about the way they use, represent and re-invent/re-imagine the place where they live. This becomes even more important when the public space functions as a stimulus to promote the construction of experiences of civic engagement and participation that involve the young generations and their families regardless of their cultural background and the legal recognition of their citizenship.

The impact of the methodology and tools used during the research project (focus groups, art-works, photo-voice, story-telling, ethnographic walks) gives interesting indications for developing innovative and sustainable methods and approaches that could be further explored and eventually used by teachers to respond to the challenges of the complex, multicultural and more and more unequal contemporary world.


Isabella Pescarmona, Lorena Milani, Federica Matera

University of Turin, Italy

Nowadays, global challenges need to be addressed at the local level. In our multicultural cities, different people, cultural and symbolic models, and experiential and educational backgrounds come together and can generate new possibilities for transformative learning (Mezirow,2016). Starting from the idea that the city is a significant place where citizenship takes shape (Council of Europe, 2020), along with the willingness to respond to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG4-SDG11), this paper debates active citizenship education with a renewed perspective, by focusing on the collaboration among all the actors (educators, teachers, local community) that face the challenge of the reception and integration for unaccompanied minors (UASC). Adopting an emancipatory pedagogical perspective (Freire,1968), this contribution discusses citizenship education as "right to the city" (Lefebre,1978), referring to both UASC, who may overcome a number of cultural and social obstacles to full participation in schools and society, and to educators and teachers, required to implement common planning to ensure minors' inclusion and development (EuropeanCommission/EACEA/Eurydice,2019). This paper aims to investigate: how to create pathways of participation among all the actors? What kind of active citizenship education should be promoted to build a more inclusive city?

The paper presents some findings from a research, which has been developing in the City of Turin, on the theme of the pedagogical reception for UASC. Some data coming from a preliminary analysis of numerous open interviews and focus groups with several key informants (educators of different types of structures, cultural mediators, heads of institutions, services and associations of the reception system and school teachers) are discussed in order to enter into dialogue with the intercultural city model. A participatory research methodology was adopted (Griffiths,1998; Mortari&Ghirotti,2019) to give voice to all the actors and, in particular, to educators, which are usually not considered in educational welfare policies, even though crucial to the design of sustainable school integration pathways.

Properly this way of carrying out the research has promoted an intercultural dialogue between educators of different services, which is able to enhance existing synergies and activate new alliances among different educational agencies and the territory. The process of sharing and reflecting on the different interpretive models has allowed the development of new knowledge, competencies and resources to improve educational practice with minors, but it has also opened new spaces for professional training and a better integration of minors in the city.

Thus, by introducing new variables and new actors in the educational and research process, the paradigm of citizenship is redefined and transformed in daily practice in a network within the territory, and ground a renew idea of city and intercultural citizenship.

Council of Europe (2020). The Intercultural City Step by Step. Strasbourg.

European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice (2019). Integrating Students from Migrant Backgrounds into Schools in Europe. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the EuropeanUnion.

Griffiths M. (1998). Educational Research for Social Justice. Buckingham: OpenUniversityPress.

Lefebvre H. (1978). Il diritto alla città. Venezia: Marsilio.

Mezirow J. (2016). La teoria dell’apprendimento trasformativo. Milano: RaffaelloCortina.

Mortari L. & Ghirotto L., (eds.) (2019). Metodi per la ricerca educativa. Roma: Carocci.


Giulia Pastori, Valentina Pagani

University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy

The contribution presents some results and reflections drawn from the international study titled ‘Feel good: Children’s view on inclusion’, led by the authors of this article. Set within the framework provided by EU-funded collaborative project ISOTIS (, this international qualitative participatory research study in 2018-2019 involved children in pre- and primary school settings and informal after-school contexts in areas characterized by high cultural diversity and social inequality in eight European countries (the Czech Republic, England, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Poland, and The Netherland). The research was designed to enable a better understanding of children’s experiences, perceptions and opinions about inclusion and well-being at school. Through a multimethod participatory approach, it was aimed at exploring what factors the young participants identified as promoting or undermining well-being and inclusion at school, and at eliciting their suggestions to make school more welcoming and inclusive. The overall research experience was intended as an opportunity for the children involved to be actively and meaningfully engaged, and to experience citizenship and agency. The analysis of the main results along with the educational and formative impacts on children and professionals offers valuable suggestions for promoting democratic and inclusive learning environments and shaping innovative forms of civic education and teachers training.


Giovanni Moro

Sapienza University, Rome, Italy

It is common wisdom that education has always been an essential part of citizenship-building process, though, at the same time, this relation has been contested because of its ambiguity (Heater, 2004). In addition, in the last decades the crisis of democratic citizenship paradigm has put civic education in a critical situation, because of the coincidence between growing expectations and uncertainty on the content and extension of citizenship itself. These difficulties can be observed both in the definitions of the strategic concept of “active citizenship” (Hoskins, 2006; Jochum, Pratten, Wilding, 2005; European Economic and Social Committee, 2011), and in civic education policies (Eurydice, 2017; Fondaca, 2018).

To manage this situation, the shift from a normative to an empirical concept of citizenship could be helpful. Thus, democratic citizenship could be viewed as a phenomenon, consisting in a device, able to grant inclusion, cohesion and development of political communities and structured in the three components of belonging as status and as identity; of rights with related duties; and of participation of citizens in public life (Bellamy, 2008; Moro, 2020).

Looking at democratic citizenship as a device allows to look at different “places” where citizenship is defined and transformed. It means that we could observe citizenship not only as a product of constitutional norms and provisions, but also as defined and redefined in other two places. One is what we could define civic acquis or “storage”, that is, the set of legal- or policy-based provisions establishing the content of citizenship, including laws, public policies, court decisions, administrative acts and procedures, recognized collective agreements, etc. The other one is citizenship practices, as to say, the dynamic relations between citizens and the polity, as well as the political community, on an everyday basis (Wiener, 1998). Thanks to the concept of citizenship practices, we can observe citizenship as an output not only of political decisions and institutional acts, but also of citizens’ lives, a product of social meanings and actions (Bellamy, Castiglione, Shaw, 2006). In other words, what people do with citizenship is of crucial importance to give shape to citizenship itself.

As a consequence, we can look at civic education as a citizenship practice, where the current crisis of democratic citizenship is managed by redefining and transforming citizenship itself, especially when non-conventional education methodologies are employed (Fondaca, 2018). The case of management of multiculturalism is a good example of this transformative attitude.


Adam Peter Lang1, Stella Mi-cheong Cheong1, Yaobin Tong1, Nar Bahadur Saud2

1UCL, United Kingdom; 2Tribhuvan University, Nepal


Since the outbreak of coronavirus, socio-economic inequalities, socio-political polarisation, and identity-based conflicts have worsened nationwide and globally. Covid-19 has exacerbated existing crises as well as created a series of new crises. Long before Covid, the manipulation of identity to create division has been at the heart of the increasingly complex challenges facing societies. Moreover, we are seeing exclusionary populist movements growing in strength and confidence all over the world, threatening democracies and values, human rights, and the security of minority or vulnerable groups. This paper explores how citizenship education might be reinvented in response to this context, with the vision of rebuilding a more equitable and compassionate society., we inquire into the importance of developing a collective epistemology based on our own experience and reflection regarding the current crises to find a possible pedagogic pathway. By engaging in personal and collective critique and self-reflection, a group of doctorial students developed professional practice and knowledge by rooting our pedagogy within a personal knowledge and experience that Bourdieu (1990) calls epistemic reflexivity. The use of a collective autobiographical writing approach allowed us to document six different autobiographical reflexivities of citizenship education scholars who were from different parts of the world: China, South Korea, (the Philippines, the United States), Nepal, and the United Kingdom, and observe the way the pandemic played out both in the location where they were situated during the research, as well as how it played out in their countries, and further, how it affected the civic development in a wider context. Moreover, collective autobiographical writing has given us a chance to deeply reflect on our life so that we have experienced significant personal transformation through critical reflexivity. Despite the fact that this collective autobiographical approach was appropriate for further inquiry, the practical and analytical challenges posed by this methodological choice demanded a high level of critical reflection, frequent dialogue, and the multi-dimensional negotiability of our autobiographical narratives.

This research is an expression of the educational vision of reimagining citizenship education as a means of mitigating and tackling the current crises that we are witnessing based on tacit knowledge, understanding, ideas and philosophy gleaned from our professional practice, academic study, and life experience. To do so, we proposed the concept of education for active and compassionate citizenship.

(380 words)


Francesca Rapanà

University of Verona, Italy

Despite being the focus of a large and well-established literature, the concept of civic engagement struggles to find a clear and unambiguous definition (Amnå, 2012). Some authors have tried to identify universal elements which, although declined locally, define indispensable aspects of civic engagement, namely a social contract between governments and citizens or the role of collective identity in citizenship and civic action (Kassimir, Flanagan: 2010). Banyan, accepting the complexity and vagueness of this concept, refers to “a wide range of practices and attitudes of involvement in social and political life that converge to increase the health of a democratic society” (Banyan, 2013).

In the field of educational sciences, civic engagement is linked to the broader topic of citizenship education (Geboers, Geijsel, Admiraal, & ten Dam, 2013) and is embraced as a positive and desirable outcome whose value is generally taken for granted (Amnå, 2012).

The role of schools in the development of future citizens is widely recognized (Geboers et al., 2013) but, like any educational intervention that is never neutral, citizenship education has a political dimension that requires problematizing its own goals, its implicit models, and the coherence with proposed interventions (Westheimer and Kahne, 2004).

This paper presents the outcomes of an ongoing multi-case research aimed at understanding the role of school-community relationships in promoting civic engagement. What kind of citizen informs citizenship education practices in today’s school? What meanings are conferred to civic engagement? The way in which these concepts are declined in educational approaches responds to contemporary challenges and the need to rethink the boundaries of citizenship?

The multi-case study involves 2 primary and middle schools, 2 high schools, 2 vocational training centers and 1 Centers for Adult Education (CPIA). 65 semi-structured interviews have been conducted with principals, teachers, and community actors. The interview guides have been constructed following a common frame on the partnerships oriented to promoting civic engagement, and adapting the questions and main topics to the different interviewees. The interviews have been coded and analyzed using N-Vivo.

The research aims to understand and make explicit the different meanings of civic engagement, particularly the implicit ones, that shape educational practices promoted by schools in collaboration with community and make explicit the idea of citizen and citizenship embedded in these practices, in order to provide both to practitioners and policy-makers useful insights to plan effective and self-aware interventions.

Amnå E. How is civic engagement developed over time? Emerging answers from a multidisciplinary field. J Adolesc. 2012 Jun;35(3):611-27

Banyan, M. E. (2013). Civic engagement. In Encyclopædia Britannica.

Geboers, E., Geijsel, F., Admiraal, W., & ten Dam, G. (2013). Review of the effects of citizenship education. Educational Research Review, 9, 158-173.

Kassimir R., Flanagan, C. (2010). Youth Civic Engagement in the Developing World:
Challenges and Opportunities. In Sherrod, L., Torney-Purta, J., & Flanagan, C. Handbook of research on civic engagement in youth. Wiley, 91-114.

Westheimer, J., & Kahne, J. (2004). What Kind of Citizen? The Politics of Educating for Democracy. American Educational Research Journal, 41(2), 237–269.

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