Professional Development for Global Educators: A Book Review

John Nordquist, Cross-Perspective Consulting
March 22, 2024
Professional Development for Global Educators: A Book Review

At School in the World is a collection of 15 research papers by 47 authors from a dozen countries. Its focus is primarily on preservice teacher education, and its intended audience includes academic researchers, faculty who offer courses in teacher preparation, P-16 practitioners, and others involved in global education. Divided into four parts, it addresses these significant themes: global competence, supporting global competence development in preservice teachers, international collaboration in teacher preparation, and professional development for teacher educators.

Despite its concentration on preservice teacher education, the essays contain a wealth of information, both theoretical and practice, for educators who aspire to nurture global citizens and foster cultural understanding within their classrooms. It provides invaluable resources, ideas, strategies, and personal narratives for ongoing professional development of in-service global educators.

For the purposes of this review, I will pull out a few ideas that might be relevant and helpful for GEBG schools to consider when designing professional development opportunities.

Intercultural Competency

Of particular interest to Global Education Benchmark Group members is the authors’ alignment with the mission of GEBG – “Global Education develops the knowledge, skills, and empathic orientation required to understand multiple perspectives and to thrive in increasingly interconnected world systems. A global citizen acts to promote the common good locally, nationally, and internationally.” The authors build on this core understanding and propose a more fully developed definition:

Globally oriented education is an umbrella concept that is conceptualized as a response to the increased interconnectedness of the world and the resulting challenges that humanity is facing, including human rights violations, inequality, poverty, and climate change. The idea is that such education should act as a learner empowerment process, supporting youth in becoming active participants in and promoters of more peaceful, inclusive, and sustainable societies. Ideally, globally oriented educators would also challenge existing power relations globally (e.g., Global North versus Global South) as well as call attention to and encourage taking action regarding regional and local disparities and injustices. (p. xix)

As evidenced by David Lynn’s excellent article, “Empirical Insight into Educator Intercultural Competencies,” in the Spring ‘23 Edition of INTERCONNECTED, intercultural competency is currently on the minds of GEBG educators. One takeaways from David’s research is the evolving nature of our understanding of the competencies we seek to develop in our students. The initial chapter in At School in the World places the development of intercultural competencies at the core of developing culturally competent teachers. Both Chapters 1 and 2 appropriately give a global perspective on the evolution of global competency education as it plays out in various communities and contexts around the world. In the US, we are most familiar with the social justice orientation of JEDI in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. The OCED/PISA aims to develop competencies geared toward success in a changing, interconnected world. In Europe, the Council of Europe addresses the competencies needed for the development of democratic cultures, particularly in the context of refugees and immigration. Issues of decolonization and Indigenous peoples’ rights are central to the discussion across Commonwealth countries and other formerly colonized nations.

All this material could be the subject of an in-service training day for all faculty and global education leaders.

Developing Globally Competent Teachers

Too often, the global education mission of a school lands in the lap of a handful, or less, of “global ed” teachers. Most of the book deals with how to develop a global perspective in faculty across the curriculum. There are many approaches to accomplishing this, all of them involving some sort of community of practice or faculty inquiry circles.

Several chapters provide research-based models for potential professional development that can be applied to K-12 teachers and curricula.

Identifying Cross-Curricular Themes

A learning group of faculty could explore common course objectives. The goals of the group would be

>>  Identify conceptualizations of “global” in political, social, cultural, and historical realms;

>>  Analyze–through social justice frameworks–the impact of global events, processes, and perspectives on teaching and learning;

>>  Apply principles of global perspectives pedagogies by infusing the academic curriculum with global events, processes, and perspectives appropriate to various subject areas and grade levels; and

>>  Engage in self-reflection to identify one’s social location within global scales and describe how our social location impacts our pedagogies for teaching global issues. (p. 84)

Literature Circles

“In a literature circle, a group of people gather to engage with a common text (e.g., book, article, film) and discuss its themes; group discussion affords opportunities for collective meaning-making.” (p. 90) There are innumerable possibilities. Some of these could then be used with students.

Critical Analysis of Curriculum 

Engaging faculty in a critical review of the curriculum is good practice. One model of this includes four steps:

>>  Identifying explicitly global references,

>>  identifying globally adjacent standards,

>>  reinterpreting standards through global lenses and

>>  challenging dominant narrative through critical global lenses. (p. 90)

International Teaching Exchanges

Research demonstrates that teaching in another culture can be transformative if the experience is well-designed. Outcomes included forming relationships, gaining experience as a teacher, gaining personal and professional self-confidence, contextual learning (learning about the culture in which the teaching experience is located), expanding their worldview, and analyzing multiple perspectives of education. (pp. 124-132)

Research also suggests that the success of an international teaching experience depends on design. One example of a design model is presented in the form of the “Five Cs of Cultural Immersion,” which are Communication, Cultures, Connections, Companions, and Communities. (p. 143)

Other provocative chapters present various pedagogies aimed at faculty development: building community relationships in teacher exchanges, sustainable development, and social justice issues.

The editors end the book with a chapter on the “Challenges Encountered in Embedding Global Perspective,” which should be read by anyone leaning into the development of a globally engaged faculty. 

The book has an overwhelming bibliography, which I was pleased to see included my two mentors, Robert Hanvey (Author of the seminal “An Attainable Global Perspective”) and Merry Merryfield, Professor Emeritus at OSU, who introduced me to global education and perspective consciousness.


**One caveat. These essays are research papers, and while they all were thoroughly vetted from an academic point of view, the language is often stilted and jargon-filled. Not a gripping read, but a rich resource for developing a global faculty.**


At School in the World: Developing Globally Engaged Teachers. Edited by Carine Ullom and Nilufer Guler. 412pp. Rowman & Littlefield. 2023.