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Young People and International Development: Engagement and Learning

Bourn, D; Brown, K; (2011) Young People and International Development: Engagement and Learning. (Development Education Research Centre Research Reports 2 , pp. pp. 1-36 ). Development Education Research Centre, Institute of Education, University College London: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

Building on several decades of development education practice in the UK, the first twelve years of the twenty first century has seen increased interest amongst policy makers in young people’s engagement with issues of international poverty and development. Discourses in this area have tended to characterise young people in UK society as engaging with international development through specific, often campaign-related, activities, motivated by concern. Whilst this can be seen as a positive picture, and may well be the case for many young people, it is argued here that these assumptions are likely to mask a more complex and interesting picture. Drawing on existing literature and anecdotal evidence, this report points towards a more nuanced understanding of young people’s learning about and engagement with development. It adopts broad understandings of international development, and the relationship between learning and action. At the same time, the report acknowledges the dominant perspectives that exist on these issues in development education policy and practice, in particular an over-emphasis on engagement as participation and action which can mask the importance of the learning processes and the complex relationships between learning and behaviour. Globalisation and its flows of media, technology, ethnicities and ideologies mean that young people are exposed to a range of opportunities to learn about development issues beyond those provided by specific educational interventions. A range of contexts for the ‘where’ or learning about international development are explored, including the media and personal connections to people and places in developing countries and to individuals already engaged with the issues, as well as formal and informal education, including youth work. The notion of the individual learner is understood as crucial in learning theory but has received limited attention in the context of young people’s global learning. What is known about the ‘who’ of learning about international development is explored, including the influence of factors relating to young people’s identity and experiences (such as gender, age and socio-economic status) and to their motivation. For some, this may be based on ‘being concerned’ or ‘caring about others’ but for others it may be due to personal relationships, experiences and interests. The report aims to stimulate debate and discussion on young people’s engagement with issues of development and to suggest the need for more openended research which explores how, when and why young people engage with such issues. Many young people in the UK are clearly engaging with and learning about international development and poverty. Organisations and education systems seeking to facilitate this perhaps need to give greater consideration to young people’s experiences and motivations and to look beyond assumptions about the processes and outcomes of learning and engagement.

Type: Report
Title: Young People and International Development: Engagement and Learning
ISBN-13: 9780956867421
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/departments-centres/cent...
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © Development Education Research Centre 2011.
Keywords: Global Citizenship, Young People, International Development, Media
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1492713
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