Global Leadership: What it Looks Like


In an era of increasing global interconnectedness, preparing students for their future means providing them with an educational experience that cultivates knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to become globally competent adults. In Educating for Global Competence, Veronica Boix-Mansilla and Anthony Jackson define global competence as “the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance.”

Schools today need to provide students with opportunities to develop global competence across the curriculum. Students learn to understand the world through the disciplines of art, English language arts, history/social studies, mathematics, science, and world languages, and at the same time, strengthen their understanding of the core subjects in a global context.

The skills required for successful participation in the world—such as responsible citizenship, innovative entrepreneurship, and active leadership, among others—are not specific to any one subject. A globally focused school fosters the development of these skills through service learning, internships, field trips and other experiential projects, both during the school day and via afterschool and summer programs.

In order to be globally competent, students must not only learn about the world but also learn to embody global citizenship. A well-rounded global curriculum not only opens students’ eyes, but sets the stage for them to act in ways that are inspired by their course of study and driven by a desire to make a difference locally, regionally and globally.

As students develop global competence they investigate the world, learn more about where people come from and how they live, and come back to reflect on their own lives with more honesty. Students learn to recognize different perspectives and communicate and defend ideas while realizing how and why others may think differently than they do.

Students then take what they’ve learned about themselves and the world and use it to take a leadership role in their own communities. This may involve starting local service projects, creating student clubs to raise funds or awareness, or educating others, through writing letters, volunteering time, creating artwork, using technology, and so on.

The various dimensions of global competence, including leadership skills and taking action, can and should be developed throughout the disciplines and through interdisciplinary projects rather than as a separate course of study. The seeds of action—identifying a local, regional or global issue, researching questions about its causes and possible solutions, and taking responsibility for personal action in response—may begin in one class, or in an afterschool program, and cross over into other aspects of student, school, or community life.

Students need to know they can have an impact, especially when studying large, complex, and often seemingly intractable global issues. Grounding the action in disciplinary and interdisciplinary study allows them to demonstrate their knowledge of the world and teaches them how to be part of a global community.

Performance Outcomes

Investigate the World

Students initiate investigations of the world by framing questions, analyzing and synthesizing relevant evidence, and drawing reasonable conclusions about globally-focused issues.

  • Identify an issue, generate a question, and explain the significance of locally, regionally, or globally focused researchable questions.
  • Use a variety of languages and domestic and international sources and media to identify and weigh relevant evidence to address a globally significant researchable question.
  • Analyze, integrate, and synthesize evidence collected to construct coherent responses to globally significant researchable questions.
  • Develop an argument based on compelling evidence that considers multiple perspectives and draws defensible conclusions.

Weigh Perspectives

Students recognize, articulate, and apply an understanding of different perspectives (including their own).

  • Recognize and express their own perspective on situations, events, issues, or phenomena and identify the influences on that perspective.
  • Examine perspectives of other people, groups, or schools of thought and identify the influences on those perspectives.
  • Explain how cultural interactions influence situations, events, issues, or phenomena, including the development of knowledge.
  • Articulate how differential access to knowledge, technology, and resources affects quality of life and perspectives.

Communicate Ideas

Students select and apply appropriate tools and strategies to communicate and collaborate effectively, meeting the needs and expectations of diverse individuals and groups.

  • Recognize and express how diverse audiences may perceive different meanings from the same information and how that affects communication.
  • Listen to and communicate effectively with diverse people, using appropriate verbal and nonverbal behavior, languages, and strategies.
  • Select and use appropriate technology and media to communicate with diverse audiences.
  • Reflect on how effective communication affects understanding and collaboration in an interdependent world.

Take Action

Students translate their ideas, concerns, and findings into appropriate and responsible individual or collaborative actions to improve conditions.

  • Identify and create opportunities for personal or collaborative action to address situations, events, issues, or phenomena in ways that improve conditions.
  • Assess options and plan actions based on evidence and the potential for impact, taking into account previous approaches, varied perspectives, and potential consequences.
  • Act, personally or collaboratively, in creative and ethical ways to contribute to improvement locally, regionally, or globally and assess the impact of the actions taken.
  • Reflect on their capacity to advocate for and contribute to improvement locally, regionally, or globally.