Building a World of Justice and Solidarity:
Global Education in the School System

LISBON 2018 International Conference

We live in a world that is complex, uncertain and changing with increasing rapidity. We face challenges at global, national and local levels that have multiple economic, social, environmental, cultural and political dimensions. The world and its peoples are resilient, creative, fecund and resistant to oppression and injustice.  At the same time, we must recognise that armed conflicts and humanitarian crises, environmental degradation and climate change as well as mounting threats to democracy such as the upsurge of populism, xenophobia and racism and increased inequality, all undermine efforts to build a world of justice and solidarity.

There is clearly a growing need for more and better Global Education, now. Global Education can be a key to empowering people to better understand global problems and the complex web of interrelationships between them, to reflect critically about them and explore possible ways to promote positive change.

The international development community is clearly committed to Global Education. This is demonstrated by the international commitments made within the framework of the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular through Goal 4 which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. One of the targets of SDG4 (target 4.7) is to ensure that all learners acquire knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development through Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship Education. Most countries in Europe are actively discussing and acting to enshrine this SDG target into their policies. Professionals at all levels of schooling are critically engaged in preparing children and youngsters to better understand a complex and demanding world.

From within education systems in European countries there is growing recognition of the centrality of global learning to the core purpose of formal education. In the concluding words of the international symposium Becoming a Global Citizen: “Education must put Global Education at the heart of learning, if it is to be considered quality education”.

This growing recognition that Global Education should be at the core of formal education systems, and at all levels and dimensions of formal education systems, suggests that Global Education is not an external agenda, but a common core concern and shared responsibility. However, mounting tensions may undermine efforts to promote Global Education, even as we see signs of hope for greater engagement with Global Education at global, national and local level.

This Conference is an invitation to reflect on the role and potential of Global Education in formal education systems. It aims to discuss GE in all the dimensions of formal education systems: national curriculum development, learning assessment, implementation and change processes, initial teacher education and continuous professional development of teachers, in processes that seek to support the change of school ethos and culture, in policies and national strategies, in higher education, and in the empowerment of students’ voices and relationships between the school and the community.

The Conference builds on previous work of GENE and its participating countries, namely the two International Symposia on competencies of Global Citizens**: ‘Becoming a Global Citizen’ (2011) and ‘Education of Global Citizens’ (2014), held in Finland. It also follows the Paris Conference ‘Global Education: Towards a World of Solidarity’ (2016), co-organised by GENE and the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the French Development Agency (AFD). It builds equally in the work GENE and the member states have been conducting to deepen the understandings of Global Education based in policy learning and sharing.

The Conference hopes to provide an opportunity for policy learning and to further empower all actors to continue working towards the day when all people in Europe – in solidarity with peoples globally – will have access to quality Global Education, as part of the ongoing journey to learn how to build a world of justice and solidarity.

In the year during which we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this could not come at a better time. It is our common duty to make sure that we stand for the simple yet fundamental idea, proclaimed in the Declaration that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.


Reflect on the education systems we have and on the ones that are emerging, in the context of the challenges we are facing as European societies in a global world.

Explore new visions and strategies to rethink the local and global justice dimensions of education in particular, and the nature of education for the 21st Century more generally.

Develop an understanding on how Global Education is and could be at the heart of formal education systems, building on the bases developed in Global Education in Europe over the past 15 years.


The Conference aims to bring together those involved in Global Education policies and practice in the school system: policy makers, educators and researchers in European countries, with the involvement of international organisations. Participation will be by invitation and 150 participants are expected.

Structure of the Conference

The conference is organized around plenary sessions and parallel workshops. There will be 7 workshops in the morning and 7 in the afternoon. The workshops aim to discuss Global Education in the various dimensions of formal education systems: national curriculum development (A1) and the empowerment of students’ voices (B1); in-service learning for teachers (A2) and initial teacher education (B2); school ethos and culture (A3) and the connection between the school and the community (B3); the world in the school: migrants and refugees (A4) and learning with colleagues from other countries (B4); national strategies (A5) and multi-stakeholders cooperation (B5); higher education (A6) and research on GE (B6); monitoring target 4.7 of SDG4 (A7) and global competencies (B7).

Although there is relationship between the morning (A) and afternoon (B) workshops, participants are free to select any workshop in the morning and in the afternoon. 


The Conference is co-organised by GENE – Global Education Network Europe, Camões-Institute for Cooperation and Language-Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Directorate-General for Education-Ministry of Education of Portugal, in partnership with UNESCO and with financial support from the European Commission.

Place and date

The Conference will take place in Lisbon (venue: Museu do Oriente), on Friday 23 November 2018, from 9am to 5.30pm.

International Exhibition of Global Education pedagogical materials for schools

GENE participants and partners are invited to contribute to an exhibition of Global Education pedagogical materials to be used in formal education (from kindergarten to the third level). The objective of the exhibition is to showcase examples of educational materials on Global Education developed by different countries, providing an overview of what is being done in Europe. It will also provide a space for informal discussions and networking between participants.