In and outside of the United States, there is a need for a more global course of social studies appropriate to the 21st century. Yet, given the importance of history as a subject in most national curricula for secondary studies, there are almost as many proposals for global studies as there are nations around the world.
Any solution to this problem would have to be informed by a broader sense of history, and it would need to be a practical effort directly tied to the well-being of our students and the economies they inhabit. As a result, we imagine graduates who can investigate the world using a range of methods from the social studies.
A global approach to history and social studies does not offer a new set of content standards regarding the things students must know about the world. Instead, we began by indexing the ways in which students approach the world, socially and collaboratively, and asked how this approach develops as the student’s sense of that world becomes broader. As a result, the framework allows us to chart the unique ways in which individual students develop a more global perspective, and the particular strengths students acquire.
Our challenge as history and social studies educators is not merely to empower our students to improve upon the human condition once they leave our classrooms, but to empower our students to revitalize the educational experiences we design for them before they leave our classrooms. To do this, they must engage the process of history where they are, and we must learn to share in learning about our world with them.
Asia Society’s Graduation Performance System performance outcomes and rubric for history and social studies does not replace required curricula or scope and sequences. Instead, we mean to encourage students, and teachers, to rethink their learning experiences about the world, in an increasingly collaborative, global context. As they do so, students, and their teachers, will be able to identify those competencies with which a student best or most ably comprehends the world. Global competence is not a singular developmental achievement of the ability to integrate vast amounts of information in order to take action, but is rather an expression of each individual student’s unique capacity to use some, or all of these competencies in a way that allows them to better understand the world.
Taking up the four domains of global competence in the context of an individual student’s development, we hope to shift the focus of our students’ learning experiences from being subject to their lessons, to becoming the agent of their own education. This will empower them to participate in the institutions of socialization and formal education that have traditionally been understood as the primary function of civics or social education. Participation, backed by capacity, will allow them to react to, or even shape, their ever-changing world.