Academic journal article Knowledge Cultures

Educational Cosmopolitanism: Complex Capabilities, Institutional Requirements and a Research Stance

Academic journal article Knowledge Cultures

Educational Cosmopolitanism: Complex Capabilities, Institutional Requirements and a Research Stance

Article excerpt

Introduction

Cosmopolitanism has been the focus of attention of many social scientists and philosophers at the beginning of the 21st century. Its long tradition and recurrent appearance in human history can be explained in terms of its dealing with essential aspects of human life: our co-existence, interconnectivity and place and home in the world. It has its roots in ancient Greek culture and philosophy, but it can also be found in the modern tradition, particularly expressed in Kant's political writings in the 18th century (Kant, 1796/2007). The tradition of cosmopolitanism goes farther back in time than the modern tradition of nationalism and it has often been perceived as opposed to national belongingness and nationalism. Cosmopolitans, citizens of the world, were sometimes even seen as rootless traitors or polluters of national identity due to the nationalizing character of modernization in society (Skrbis and Woodward, 2013). It was not until recently that many social scientists began to talk about a cosmopolitan turn in the human and social sciences; they argued that we can no longer think of the nation as the centre of gravity for our social reality and co-existence, and many people cannot even think of it as their home in the world.

This recent cosmopolitan turn in the human and social sciences, but also as a lived phenomenon among members of many nations, is relevant for modern education since education is thought to link individuals to society and a present to a future, but also because it is thought to be a public concern largely defined, formed and legitimized by views, or imaginaries, of human interconnectivity. One real challenge is whether national education should depart from traditional, inward nationalist views of human interconnectivity that no longer match a social reality defined by global interconnectivity, or whether it should continue to meet global challenges in the way many nations do today, that is, by supporting the primacy of the economy, reducing education to a promoter of human capital and economic agency. In this paper I propose a third road, open but not yet taken. I argue that there are compelling reasons for a cosmopolitan response in national education (as a public concern) to a metamorphosis of society triggered by globalization. In the first part of the paper I suggest and adopt a social-imaginaries approach to cosmopolitanism relevant for national education and I discuss how social imagination is inextricably connected to modern education, society and social change. In the second part I propose a kind of rooted and multidimensional cosmopolitanism aimed at re-imagining national education, but also new cosmopolitanisms recently developed. Finally, I offer a view of educational cosmopolitanism involving complex performative capabilities, institutional requirements and a research stance aimed at re-imagining national education in nations and a society undergoing not merely superficial change but a metamorphosis.

Re-imagining Cosmopolitan and Modern Social Imaginaries

New cosmopolitanisms have evolved in a world increasingly marked by global interconnectivity and global change, but also as a critical response to the growing parochial tendency to reduce human co-existence and interconnectivity to economic spheres of thought and action (Delanty, 2012; Beck, 2006). Political theorists Will Kymlicka and Katherine Walker (2012) think that global interconnectivity alters the conditions for co-existence and has made some kind of cosmopolitanism necessary (without defining exactly what kind). The new cosmopolitanisms form a mixed family of concepts and imaginaries. Cosmopolitanism in the 21st century is among other things thought of as a socio-cultural or existential condition for human life; a worldview or philosophy of life; a political project geared to the increased trans-nationalization of institutions or the recognition of difference and multiple identities among members of society; a moral obligation or practical philosophy in times of global interconnectivity; and it is often described in terms of attitudes, competencies or dispositions among members of society (Rowisco and Nowicka, 2011: 1). …

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