Globalization has created the need for global citizens that have a keen awareness of the political, economic, social, and environmental concerns of our time. Our inter-connected world demands that we not only understand our country, but  also have knowledge of nations, cultures, languages, and religions around the globe.

Rapid advancements in technology have made for profound paradigm shifts in almost every arena – so much so that keeping the competitive advantage in a globalized economy now requires going beyond traditional modes of education that create a well informed, trained, and motivated workforce.

As Dr. Curtis J. Bonk (2009), Professor of Instructional Systems at Indiana University and President & Founder, CourseShare, LLC, & SurveyShare, observed in The World is Open, “Anyone can now learn anything from anyone at anytime.”  (p. 7) This being the case, the global community now faces the daunting task of preparing youth to fulfill the challenges of an ever-transforming world.

Although many think of public schools when discussing education, private schools and multinational corporations  play a dynamic role in meeting the demands of those seeking education around the globe. In essence we now see governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations and multinational corporations coming together in the creation of what may be a global education superstructure (Spring 2009). While  all aspects of this multi-dimensional system are not unified, they are certainly connected if for no other reason than the phenomenon of globalization itself. However, as we will see, there is increasing collaboration among these organizations, especially within institutions of higher education.

In recent decades, there has been a large response by both the public, private, and civil sector to address the transforming educational needs of our youth. This response has largely taken place on several fronts, each with varying perspectives and motivations for wanting to transform education on a global scale. The globalization of education has been identified as, “an intertwined set of global processes affecting education, such as worldwide discourses of human capital, economic development, and multiculturalism; intergovernmental organizations; information and communication technology; nongovernmental organizations; and multinational corporations.” (Spring)

This Issue in Depth will study the increasingly global manifestation of education through four particular lenses.

The first section or lens analyzes education as a business. It looks at the work of several multi-national private educational companies, as well as related-educational services, and the expansion of a global education industry. This section will also address the controversy surrounding the growth of the private education sector, and subsequent debates concerning private and non-profit education.

The second section focuses on public sector, and pedagogical and curricular developments related to the theory of global education. Much of this section focuses on the notion of global citizenship as a result of both global education and the globalization of education. We will then look at the development in non-profit educational institutions at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. Lastly, this section will discuss the application of the International Baccalaureate standards and curriculum, as well as some of the difficulties in developing an international curriculum standard, while considering the present goals and themes within global education.

The third section concentrates on the role of civil society and international organizations, such as the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the World Bank, in the expansion of global education. It also touches up the increased interconnectedness between these organizations and the private sector.

Finally, the fourth section looks at governmental policies regarding education. As the economy of every nation shifts in response to globalization, so too do educational systems. However dramatic, subtle, intentional, or inadvertent the face of education is transforming around the globe because of the changing needs of government and society. In this section we will look at how China, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States of America are working to transform their educational systems to create a globally competitive workforce.

Next: Global Education as Business