Citizenship and Civic Education in Costa Rica, Myanmar, and the United States

Amy Roberts, Lydiah Nganga, Joanie James


Educators everywhere consider how best to prepare students with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors to be informed, engaged, and caring 21st century citizens. This article provides a report of an ethnographic transnational field study examining how 30 middle and high school educators located in Costa Rica, Myanmar, and the United States, conceive of citizenship and civic education based on textbook use, classroom materials, pedagogical practices, and instructional strategies. Data sources included field logs, debriefing sessions, one-to-one interviews, focus group discussions, classroom observations, a questionnaire, textbook evaluations, and review of media documents. Participants in the United States network emphasized multiple perspectives applied as a lens to the study of contemporary global issues. Costa Rican participants mirrored this description but with emphasis on nationalistic goals to equip students with skills to work for tangible improvements in the lives of Costa Rican citizens. In the Myanmar context, participants relied almost exclusively on textbooks; in this case, context and culture informed the aims and approaches of civic and citizenship education. Implications contribute to transnational discourse addressing the practice of civic and citizenship education internationally. This study expands dominant definitions and the importance of a qualitative transnational framework to examine citizenship and civics curricula in diverse systems.


Civic education, citizenship education, curriculum, 21-century citizens, transnational field study

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