The Global Citizen Diploma and the Rest of the Story: The Cultivation of Whole-School Global Citizenship Through the Adoption of Narrative Credentials

Speakers: Damien Pitter and Ian Hoke
Institution: Yokohama International School, Japan and Zurich International School, Switzerland

International schools cultivate diversity, leadership and global citizenship. But looking at our official documentation, where do we find evidence of these values? We only see courses and grades. Traditionally, our school records indicate only two things about a graduate: the diploma indicates completion of the minimum hours and classes, and the passing of a minimum standard; and the transcript quantifies the achievement in a GPA or score. Our students have outgrown the credentials we use to describe them. There is more to our students' stories than numbers.


When the target students strive for is a number, their entire learning process will be about getting a good number. Teachers are often asked, 'will this be graded?' to determine whether an assigned task is worthy of a genuine effort. We have students whose greatest proficiency is gaming the system, divining the numbers and doing whatever results in a higher score without necessarily learning the things those grades are meant to represent.

If we are serious about intercultural learning and the values of global citizenship, we need a new kind of credential, a target for learning that isn't a summative number. What if, instead of getting good grades, a student's goal was to graduate with a compelling story about what he or she has learned? What if the credential wasn't a number, but a narrative? And if the target were to share a compelling narrative, what more might we value about the learning experience across the school? What might we make time for and spend resources on, in and outside of the classroom? How might parents see themselves as educators, and teachers see themselves as ongoing learners? In how many ways could such a narrative credential represent the learning your students do, and what your school stands for?

The Global Citizen Diploma was created to help students tell the story of their learning. As a credential it validates all of their educational experiences; as a mirror, it encourages meaningful reflection; and as a spotlight, it showcases the achievements they feel most proud of.

We will discuss the Global Citizen Diploma and its implementation at Yokohama International School, the American School of Bombay, NIST International School, and Zurich International School and the ways in which having this narrative credential based in the values of global citizenship and intercultural learning has impacted the entire school community.


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