Global Competence: Social Studies Performance Outcomes


Asia Society convened social studies and history faculty from across our International Studies Schools Network to chart innovative and effective ways in which students develop global perspectives. The outcome of this multiyear effort is a set of what we call performance outcomes, which are the enduring understandings, skills, and content that students should know about the social studies and history disciplines.

The goal of history and social studies courses in a globally focused school is to develop students who can investigate and act in the world socially, using distinct and disciplined methods from history and the various social sciences (including, but not limited to anthropology, civics, cultural studies, economics, geography, political science, psychology, and sociology).

A globally competent student can use social science skills to:

Investigate the World

  • Students situate and analyze social questions in the world beyond their own immediate environment or time.
  • Pose a researchable question related to members of a global community.
  • Select and document primary and secondary sources of evidence from multiple world cultures and a variety of print and digital media in response to the question.
  • Situate sources of evidence in contemporary or historical place(s), time(s), or idea(s) to analyze their credibility for use in an argument.

Recognize Perspectives

  • Students use sources of evidence from historical and contemporary contexts to consider their own and others’ perspectives.
  • Work with background knowledge and selected historical or contemporary sources of evidence to frame a perspective for an argument.
  • Identify and compare cultural perspectives and alternative explanations found in the sources of evidence as part of an argument.
  • Evaluate multiple perspectives from background knowledge and sources of evidence as part of an argument.

Communicate Ideas

  • Students advance and defend arguments that foster collaboration among diverse audiences.
  • Advance an argument that clearly addresses the research question in the context of the identified global community.
  • Defend that argument with specific and documented evidence from a variety of perspectives and media as applicable to the identified global community.
  • Identify and consider claims of the argument that could be used to foster collaboration among other relevant communities.

Take Action

  • Students compare and prioritize choices and their implications to engage in advocacy or action.
  • Compare and prioritize choices for innovative and responsible action.
  • Consider the local and global implications of the proposed choices and questions left unanswered in the context of the argument.
  • Engage in advocacy or action in a way that is responsive to context(s) of the argument.

“Our challenge as History and Social Studies educators is not merely to understand the world around them by investigating roots of tradition and conflict,” said one teacher, “It is also to empower them to improve upon the human condition once they leave our classrooms.”

The History and Social Studies Framework for a global approach to the social studies does not offer a new set of content standards regarding the things students must know about the world. Instead, it indexes the ways in which students approach the world, socially and collaboratively,1 and asked how this approach develops as the student’s sense of that world becomes broader.2

This framework does not replace required curricula or scope and sequences. Instead, students and teachers are challenged to rethink their learning experiences about the world socially, in an increasingly collaborative and global context. As they do, students and their teachers will be able to identify those competencies with which a student best or most ably comprehends the world.

Yet the framework is not a rubric for attaining a global perspective. Global competence is not a singular developmental achievement of the ability to integrate vast amounts of information. Rather it is an expression of each student’s unique capacity to use some or all of these competencies in a way that allows them to understand the world better and to be an effective citizen.

Based on the performance outcomes, four levels of performance are described in the rubrics for each discipline and for global leadership. Taken in the context of an individual student’s development, students can shift the focus of their learning experiences from being subject to their lessons, to becoming the agent of their own education. Participation, backed by capacity, will allow them to participate in, or even shape, their ever-changing world.



1. Robert C. Hanvey, “An Attainable Global Perspective,” Theory into Practice, Vol. 21, No. 3, Global Education (Summer 1982): pp. 162–167.

2. See also: Jean Piaget, The Construction of Reality in the Child (1954); Lawrence Kohlberg, Philosophy of Moral Development (1981) and Psychology of Moral Development (1984); Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development (1982); Benjamin Bloom, Taxonomy of Educational Objectives (1956); Eleanor Duckworth, The Reality to Which Each Belongs (2005); and James Banks et. al., Principles and Concepts for Educating Citizens in a Global Age (2005).