Education for Improvement: Citizenship in the Global Public Sphere

By Reimers, Fernando M. | Harvard International Review, Summer 2013 | Go to article overview

Education for Improvement: Citizenship in the Global Public Sphere


Reimers, Fernando M., Harvard International Review


The establishment of public education systems was the result of the Enlightenment, an intellectual movement in the 17th and I 8th centuries which espoused the power of human reason to improve society, and which promoted the use of science to understand the natural world and the place of humans in the world. Immanuel Kant defined the Enlightenment as the human transition from an era of ignorance to an era of reason with a consequent expansion in human freedom. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one of the key philosophers of the Enlightenment, proposed the twin ideas that the legitimacy of a social contract depended on the extent to which it was accepted by those it governed, and the idea that education prepared people to accept the social contract or to build a new contract.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

These ideas of the Enlightenment, particularly the challenges to the abuses of power by the State and Church, and the promotion of tolerance and of social progress as a result of reason and individual freedom, influenced the revolutionary movements for Independence in North and South America. Many of the leaders of these movements for self-rule, such as Thomas Jefferson, understood that the education of all people was indispensable to prepare them for self-rule and to participate in the public sphere.

It is this novel view of social progress as the result of the collaborative dialogue and work of ordinary people that undergirds the need for educating all persons. At its core, the project of the Enlightenment replaces the aspiration for salvation in the afterlife with the aspiration of reducing human suffering through individual and collective agency in this world. Education for all is therefore instrumental to preparing people to improve the world, to reduce human suffering. This is the idea of the "public sphere" which allowed citizens to shape, discuss, and spread Enlightenment ideas, informed simply by reason and evidence generated by science. The history of public education has cosmopolitan roots. It is therefore reasonable to assess the success of public education in terms of the extent to which it prepares people to understand the world and improve it.

Citizenship in the Global Public Sphere

Globalization, the result of increased and accelerating integration across nation-states resulting from trade, travel, and telecommunications, requires increased capacity for people to understand global affairs, to have the ability to work productively across cultural divides, and to recognize and address global challenges. The Enlightenment notion of the "public sphere" has become global; individuals need the capacity to participate in such a global public sphere and collaborate in reducing human suffering and advancing the pursuit of happiness.

A cursory examination of the state of the world confirms the need for much invention and engagement in the "global commons." Whether we focus on income inequality and social exclusion, poverty, hunger, health, conflict, or environmental sustainability, it is evident that there are many areas in need of attention in order to advance human well-being and global stability. This need has been recognized in the past, most clearly after World War II when a group of global leaders worked to draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a compact that would contribute to global peace and stability.

The creation of the UN helped advance the institutional transformations to achieve the aspirations drafted in the declaration. The inclusion of the right to education in the declaration, for example, and the creation of UNESCO to focus on that right, transformed the structure of global educational opportunity, providing most children around the world the opportunity to access basic education. More recent initiatives to advance the global commons include the Milennium Development Goals, a global compact to eliminate extreme global poverty.

The exponential increase in advances in scientific knowledge and technology has significantly enhanced the technical means to address these global challenges, although effective leadership to mobilize these resources is often lacking. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Education for Improvement: Citizenship in the Global Public Sphere
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.