Global Issues: An Introductory Activity

This short, straightforward lesson idea introduces global issues to students. Global issues are, clearly, ‘global’, but are likely to be experienced and practiced in different ways at a local level. Global issues need not be ‘problems’, but often they are, or we are inclined to frame them in this way. And, global issues, for the purpose of the Individual Oral (IO), need to be expressed in a way that is reasonably focused. Thus, we can say that ‘poverty’ is a global issue; it is an enduring global problem, experienced in different ways across communities and by individuals around the world. Probably, however, ‘poverty’ is rather too broadly expressed, but by connecting poverty to other relevant, concomitant social issues such as domestic violence, health, life expectancy, substance abuse, education, employment, and so on, it would be possible to arrive at a more clearly refined global issue that can work as a point of entry to the consideration of works and texts. One potentially useful ‘technique’ or ‘strategy’ in an IO is for students, early in their discussion, to express their global issue as a question – e.g. ‘in what ways does poverty impact on mental health and wellbeing?’ – affording students an opportunity to inquire into their chosen works and texts. This lesson idea, then, gets students thinking about and identifying global issues. It allows students to cultivate their sense of appropriate global issues for their IO, and it provides an opportunity for students to reformulate global issues as questions for inquiry. It seems unlikely, however, that following this lesson, students will have ‘got it’ once and for all.  


As a teacher you may, of course, adapt and improve on this lesson idea, but as a general strategy, we suggest the following approach:

  • Divide the class into small groups (or pairs).
  • Cut-up the 10 global issues (see handout, below), and give a set of 10 issues to each group. Ask the group to discuss and rank the global issues from ‘most serious’ to ‘least serious’ (i.e. top to bottom). Ask groups to have a clear sense of the criteria that is informing their choices.
  • Leave the completed, ranked global issues (i.e. the individual strips of paper) on the desk. Each group should rotate clockwise around the room, changing places with other groups. Ask each group to consider the previous group’s ranking. Feedback: What was interesting? Surprising? How similar or different is this ranking to their ranking?
  • Provide each group two blank labels (Another global issue? – see the handout, below). Ask each group to add two global issues to their already existing list of 10. What global issues are not included in the original list?
  • Students should again rotate clockwise. Feedback: What is interesting? Surprising? How similar or different are the 2 new global issues to those they identified?
  • Ask students to try to connect their (now) 12 global issues in a range of different ways; how are they related/interconnected to one another? This may require some modelling. For example, you might draw connections between a lack of education and unemployment, suggesting that the absence of the first has an impact on employment opportunities and work prospects. Feedback: What connections were students able to make between global issues? How are global issues interconnected in different ways?
  • Finally, ask students to reformulate their global issues as inquiry questions. Again, you will probably need to model this for students. Thus, a possible question could be, ‘In what ways does a lack of education impact on opportunities to find employment?’

Global Issues

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