Biology Education to promote Responsible Global Citizenship

In the United Kingdom and Europe there have been a number of attempts to engage school science with citizenship education (Jenkins, 2006). In addition, the need for responsible global citizenship and sustainable development has recently been emphasized (Johnston, 2011). However, literature reports challenges for developing the link between science and citizenship education from the perspective of science educators (Davies, 2004).
Biology teachers working in the secondary schools of Scotland are now required to consider citizenship issues within their subject teaching because the new Curriculum for Excellence promotes the adoption of integrated and interdisciplinary approach to citizenship education. Research findings show that teachers’ beliefs are a decisive component in reforming education and in the implementation of the programs (Pajares, 1992; Bybee, 1993; Handal and Herrington, 2003; Underwood, 2012).
Therefore, this study explored biology teachers’ perspectives on dealing with global citizenship education in the context of school biology. The understandings of how biology teaches make choices about curriculum design and pedagogy and how they interpret and mediate biology in their practice as citizenship educators in a period of educational innovation can inform other science curricula in Europe which aim at linking school science with citizenship education.
Twenty biology teachers from twelve different Local Authorities of Scotland participated in semi-structured, in depth interviews. Aim of this study was to identify different ways in which biology teachers experience the phenomenon of educating for global citizenship and how this relates to their interpretations of the links between school science and global citizenship education.
The specific research questions addressed by the study were: how do teachers conceive global citizenship education in their role as biology teachers? How do the different perspectives look like? What aspects of biology are highlighted as fruitful areas for linking to global citizenship?
A phenomenographic analysis of the transcripts has employed to explore emergent patterns in the teachers’ conceptions of global citizenship education in the context of biology instructions. Iterative readings of the interview transcripts revealed interrelation between school biology and global citizenship education and differences in the understandings of the biology educators, concerning the nature of teaching global citizenship through science. Findings of this study were categorised in an emergent taxonomy with the following major categories: (A) global social justice context; (B) sustainable development, biosphere and environment conservation; (C) individual development.