The Transformation of Students’ Values after a Global Citizenship Program Including Short-term Study Abroad at a High School


 Presenter (s) Akiko Harada, Keio Senior High School

The purpose of this study is to clarify the transformation of students’ values and experiences several years after a short-term study abroad experience included in a high school Global citizenship education program. Most of global citizenship education, including study abroad programs, has been conducted in higher education. This study examines a case study of a high school in which students voluntarily participate in the program without earning any credits in exchange. Study abroad is a practice of global citizenship. At the same time, it is also an educational experience that can generate future processes of participation and/or identification as a global citizen (Pike & Sillem, 2018).


In Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT) has encouraged global human resource development in higher education since 2010. MEXT also started a “super global high school” project in 2014 to foster “global leaders,” suggesting learning programs such as fieldwork in and outside of Japan, so students experience “learning by doing.” However, none of the previous literature has examined the effect of short-term study abroad at the high school level as a part of global citizenship education.

According to Rowan-Kenyon& Niehaus (2011), study abroad is becoming an important strategy for internationalization, and in growing numbers, students choose to study abroad in the U.S. Despite the growing popularity of increasingly shorter study abroad programs, little is known about how students make meaning of these experiences over the long term.

This study examines a case study of a global citizenship program conducted from 2010 to 2014 at a Japanese high school. The program aimed to foster global citizenship through short-term study abroad in Cambodia, including one year each of prior and post learning supported by university students and teachers. Prior learning was organized with: 1) lectures by NGO workers and professors, 2) project-based learning, and 3) Khmer lessons for basic communication. Post learning was a reflection by gathering documentation about the study abroad program and discussions concerning the whole program.

Research Methods

This study focuses on the documents that students wrote after the short study abroad program in Cambodia and their narratives eight years after the program’s end. First, we reviewed the literature on global citizenship education to find an analytical framework. Global citizenship education contains several overlapping ideas, including developing education, democratic education, education for cosmopolitan citizenship, peace education, and human rights education. Consequently, the notion of global citizenship education is ambiguous and understood differently in and across contexts (Oxley & Morris, 2013). The students’ documents imply these various elements. This study explores critical and controversial perspectives on students’ documents about their experiences and the program.

Next, life history interviews were conducted to assess how students’ experiences can serve as the impetus for shifts in their values, beliefs, and behaviors in their lives after the program, viewed from a long-term perspective. The interviewees were chosen from the first year’s participants, as eight years have passed since they participated. This was deemed enough time to analyze how they accepted and gave the meaning to their experiences.


  1. Students’ documents after studying abroad implied some elements of transformation among their sense of values. First, some of them felt conflicted by the inequality between them and the Cambodian people, when they participated in interviews with families in a poor region, and when they encountered children begging for food. Another strong impression was their confusion about how to deal with their feelings when they visited a Pol Pot-era genocide museum, Tuol Slen; a genocide location known as a killing field; and when they listened to the experiences of one of Pol Pot’s survivors. Finally, they wondered what accounted for the differences in language skills between Japanese and Cambodian students.
  2. Previous studies have constructed typologies to identify and distinguish the diverse conceptions of Global citizenship. Based on students’ documents, we found that Andreotti’s (2014) notion of “critical global citizenship education” was suitable as an analytical framework. Critical global citizenship education focuses on injustice, unequal power relations, and Northern and Southern elites imposing their own assumptions as universal.
  3. During the life history interviews, we showed participants their reflection papers and encouraged them to compare their feelings from that time to the present day, and how the experience has, or has not, affected their lives. Life story interviews are a tool for analyzing who students become several years following a program that has provided them with a unique experience. Some of the interview data indicate that some participants’ experiences in the program are still a part of in their daily lives, such as trying to understand things beyond their stereotypes.



This study contributes to the literature in two ways.

  1. In the past, global citizenship education has mainly targeted university students in the West and Japan, so there are few previous studies containing empirical research on secondary schools. This study contributes by showing the case of a high school global citizenship education program marked by the characteristic of collaboration between university students and teachers.
  2. There are few studies on how students make meaning of their experiences over the long term. This study explores students’ lifelong learning through qualitative research.



Andreotti, V. O. (2014). Soft versus critical global citizenship education. In Development education in policy and practice

(pp. 21-31). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

Davies, I., Evans, M., & Reid, A. (2005). Globalizing citizenship education? A critique of ‘global education’ and ‘citizenship education’. British journal of educational studies, 53(1), 66-89.

Oxley, L., & Morris, P. (2013). Global citizenship: A typology for distinguishing its multiple conceptions. British Journal of Educational Studies, 61(3), 301-325.

Rowan-Kenyon, H. T., & Niehaus, E. K. (2011). One year later: The influence of short-term study abroad experiences on students. Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 48(2), 213-228.

Pike, G., & Sillem, M. (2018). Study abroad and global citizenship: Paradoxes and possibilities. In The Palgrave handbook of 

  global citizenship and education (pp. 573-587). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

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