Global conference on transformative education offers debate on universal social and emotional education

The Global Citizenship Foundation’s International Online Conference on Transformative Education took place last week (May 18-20). The conference addressed a number of key areas, including social and emotional learning, transformative pedagogies, and global citizenship education.

As Chair of the Scientific Committee and member of the Coordinating Committee, Professor Paul Downes, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre and Professor of Psychology of Education in DCU’s Institute of Education, played a key role. 

Speaking about its importance, Professor Downes said:

“This international conference on transformative education, led by the Global Citizenship Foundation offers a forum for debate on how a genuinely universal social and emotional education is possible, one that reconciles cultural sensitivity and diversity, students’ agency and lived experiences, with broader paradigms for scientific understanding. 

It must resist the risk of social conformity of prescriptive personality packages and a skills agenda programming children and young people rather than being co-constructed with them in inclusive systems. The conference offers a significant contribution to the reconstruction of the relational spaces for belonging around children, young people, their families, schools and communities.”

The event was opened by Dr. Aaliyah A. Samuel, President and CEO of CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning), a Senior Fellow at the Centre on the Developing Child at Harvard University. The audience consisted of education leaders, policymakers, researchers, academics, entrepreneurs, civil society organisations and international non-Governmental organisations. 

Professor Downes’ work in this area is strongly linked to DCU’s commitment to the furtherance of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, notably Target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education, which mandates the fostering of Education for Global Citizenship by calling on countries to “ensure that all learners are provided with the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”.