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World Studies Extended Essay: Global Consciousness

A guide to the research and writing process required for students completing the IB World Studies Extended Essay.

The WSEE: Helping You Develop Your Global Consciousness

The first Earth Day in New York City, 1970 - Britannica ImageQuestA unique aspect of the WSEE is that it seeks to help your do more than just simply understand whatever topic of local and global significance that you have chosen to write about.

When you write in your RRS (Research's Reflection Space) you are:

  • becoming more sensitive to local and global developments and interactions
  • reflecting about yourself as a thinker and actor in local, national and global environments.

Writing a WSEE can help you develop your global consciousness.

So What IS Global Consciousness?

Global consciousness is the capacity and disposition to understand and act upon issues of global significance. It is the ability and willingness to understand oneself and others within the broader matrix of our contemporary world.
(See: Boix Mansilla, Veronica, and Howard Gardner. "From Teaching Globalization to Nurturing Global Consciousness." Learning in the Global Era: International Perspectives on Globalization and Education, edited by Marcelo Suarez-Orozco, Berkeley, U of California P, 2007.)

In this definition, global is referring to local–global interactions and connections. These dynamics are not limited to a uniform view of the whole world. Instead, they emphasize local–global developments and the global contexts in which they take place.

Three Dimensions of Global Consciousness

Global warming and rising sea levels - Britannica ImageQuestThe concept of global consciousness encompasses:

Global sensitivity - sensitive to local phenomena and experiences as manifestations of broader developments on the planet.

Global understanding - the capacity to think and act in flexible and informed ways about issues of global and local significance.

Global self - a perception of self as a global actor and member of a local community, a city, a nation and humanity, capable of making a positive contribution to the world.


What Does It Mean for Me to Be a Globally Conscious Student?

Human consciousness - Britannica ImageQuestTo be globally conscious, you must:

  • have information about the world, AND
  • exhibit a distinctive way of being in the world—
    • be attentive to the ways in which global phenomena are manifested in local realities, as well as your own and others’ realities
    • be reflective about their own roles as participants in local, national and global contexts.

You exhibit global consciousness when you:

  • are attentive to issues of global significance around you
  • understand such issues in depth
  • can place yourself as a thinker and actor in today’s complex and interdependent world.

International Mindedness

International Baccalaureate OrganizationThese words introduce the IB Learner Profile"The aim of all IB programmes is to develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world."

In a globally interdependent world, desirable qualities of mind and dispositions include:

  • Awareness - knowledge and sensitivity to international or intercultural issues
  • Perspective - on global, national or cultural viewpoints
  • International or intercultural understanding - understanding of the relationships between nations or cultures

describes a disposition of openness and curiosity about the world and deep understanding of the complexity and diversity of human interactions.


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