What is global citizenship education?

Global citizenship education is a transformative, lifelong pursuit that involves both formal learning and practical experience. Global citizenship education helps people of all ages:

  • Respect cultural, gender, faith and other differences
  • Become more aware of the world beyond our own
  • Understand our responsibilities as members of the global community
  • Embrace our roles in protecting our planet for a sustainable future
  • Be mindful about how our local actions impact the greater world.

The #AFSeffect for global citizens

“The main challenge facing lifelong education involves our capabilities to learn to live together by developing an understanding of others and their histories, traditions and spiritual values.”

—Jacques Delors, Learning: The Treasure Within, Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century (1996)

The #AFSeffect for global citizens

AFS prepares and activates global citizens of all ages and backgrounds—students and young people, adults, volunteers, families, schools and others. We do this through our immersive international study abroad, volunteer, host family and other opportunities, all of which are supported by facilitated intercultural education programs.

AFS encourages people to think critically, question assumptions and be flexible. Our experiences build confidence, broaden perspectives, and develop practical skills required to communicate and collaborate with people from different cultures—in home communities and across the globe.

Living, working, studying and volunteering abroad with AFS also helps young people learn how to solve problems, make decisions and work effectively in diverse teams and groups.

As a result of our structured real-life learning experiences, AFSers appreciate, value and respect cultural and other differences—and believe our world is stronger and more interesting because of them.

No wonder you don’t have to go far to find an AFSer making a difference in local communities, across industries or at the forefront of an important international issue or social cause. AFSers are everywhere. AFSers are global citizens.

These 21st century global abilities are highly valued by educators, employers, humanitarians and communities. Being confident and comfortable with people from different backgrounds and worldviews opens up the world to many new, different and exciting opportunities.

The AFS Global Citizenship Education Agenda

AFS focuses on six main areas to support the global citizenship education movement:

  1. AFS helps the world learn to live together. We are committed to fostering intercultural exchanges, learning and understanding as a powerful and productive way to build a more just and peaceful world.
  2. AFSers embrace differences and believe our world is stronger because of them. AFS stresses the importance of diversity and inclusiveness in our policies, programs, organizations and public outreach efforts.  
  3. AFS is committed to expanding the role of young people in leadership and the decision-making processes of AFS and society at large. We share our findings and recommendations to help organizations and communities better leverage the potential of their young volunteers and leaders.
  4. AFS advocates—along with educators, policy makers and others—to integrate intercultural learning and global citizenship education into national agendas and public school curriculums.
  5. AFS works closely and creatively with schools, universities, humanitarian and peace groups, governments and other NGOs on the issues that reflect our mission and support global citizenship education.
  6. AFS proactively supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and believes they provide a roadmap to help make our world a better place for all people.

UN Sustainable Development Goal #4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning

Goal #4 focuses on the knowledge and skills needed to promote “sustainable development” and “sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”

AFS pays particular attention to help fulfill Goal 4: Outcome 4.7

By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

Learn More about the 17 Global Goals