Introduction to ‘Id Est’

The ‘Id Est’ Project has been running since 2014and is led by Dr. Stephen O’Brien and Dr. Gertrude Cotter.  Its main aim is to integrate Development Education into UCC’s Professional Master of Education (PME) programme, with a view to building the capacity of student teachers to integrate Development Education into their classrooms and schools, and building the capacity of UCC’s School of Education to integrate Development and Global Citizenship Education (DGCE) across its teaching and learning activities at local, national and international levels.The Schoolof Education at UCC is committed to the lifelong professional development, support and empowerment of educators.  It offers and integratesa wide range of approaches to pedagogy that instil broad knowledge, valuesand skills which studentteachers will carry into their personal lives and professional careers.  One such approach is that of Development and Global Citizenship Education(DGCE). Through the ‘Id Est’ Project, we actively encourage students to integrate DGCE into their Post-primary teaching.

Alignment with National and International Policy

Nationally, the project aligns with Irish Aid’s Development Education Strategy 2017–2023. Internationally, it aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, specifically 4.7 which aims:
By 2030, [to] ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.
Indeed one of the targets for SDG 4.7 is focused on the extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development, including gender equality and human rights, are mainstreamed at all levels in: (a) national education policies, (b) curricula, (c) teacher education and (d)student assessment.

Motivation and Theoretical Base

The lead staff were motivated by their life-long commitment to and passion for Critical Pedagogy and Teacher Education (Dr. Stephen O’Brien) and Development Education (Dr. Gertrude Cotter).  Teaching is an epistemological act –we need to ‘find our way’ to promote better thinking and reasoning on the part of students/pupils. Teaching is a moral act too –we need to question the virtues of practice, power and broader educational values. And teaching is a deeply philosophical and spiritual activity where we are all tasked with discovering our own personal/professional educational vision. As we began to work together, we explored how Critical Pedagogy and Development Education are, in effect, part of a common transformative pedagogical tradition. Development Education is strongly influenced by critical pedagogy. It places Freire’s concept of ‘praxis’ at the centre of its theoretical approach:
“The action and reflection of men and women upon their world in order to transform it” (Freire, 2001/1968: 79).
Freire argues that is not enough for people to come together in dialogue in order to gain knowledge of their social reality. They must also act together upon their environment – to firstly critically reflect upon their reality and then to transform it through further action and critical reflection.  In our work we are acutely aware of increasing student interest and activism concerning climate justice, global citizenship, sustainable development, human rights, forced migration, homelessness, poverty and other related social justice issues. Such interest/protest promotes interesting educational themes that raise issues and questions about ‘development’and prompt deeper learning engagement with the notion of a global citizenship responsibility. We feel strongly that education is a powerful force for change, enabling us to critically reflect on the way things are, to identify social injustices and unsustainable practices and to act collectively for a better world. Motivated by common theoretical perspectives and a deep commitment to student-centred learning, we set about supporting student teachers to engage with local and global development issues. Our objective was to create a space for students wishing to explore how these issues could be addressed in their traditional subject areas and disciplines. We wanted to work with PME students in the specific curricular domain of DGCE in order to promote positive changes in their knowledge, skills,attitudesand values. We hoped that the student teachers would begin to explore and understand the value that such transformation could bring to their teaching,to their identity and practices as teachers, and ultimately to the personal, social and civic growth of the pupils with whom they share their learning experiences. Our intended ‘deeper’ educational outcome is to help build a world based on respect for human dignity and rights and that is informed by values of justice, equality, inclusion, sustainability and social responsibility.  Our intended ‘practical’ outcome was, and remains, to support teacher educators to embed into their work a living understanding of and commitment to education for global citizenship, sustainable development and social justice, so that they can integrate into their teaching, and into the schools where they work, perspectives and actions that encourage the collective buildinga more just world.
Development Education is intrinsically a ‘bottom-up’ and collaborative approach to education. This was evident in the planning, and indeed all stages, of the development of this project. At the initial stages we invited students to meet with us, we provided information about our proposed approach to this work and asked them what might work within their busy schedules. The students also took part in some initial activities, simulating what might happen in a Post-primary level Development Global Citizenship Education classroom. We found the students to be responsive, enthusiastic and engaged. Indeed,we can say that the students themselves were and continue to be our inspiration. There is a great appetite for this work among student teachers (particularly in these times) and we feel that we have a responsibility to respond to their lived realities and their earnest desire to create a more fairandequalworld.

A Partnership Approach

In our work we were inspired by the long-term efforts of the Galway One World Centreand their expansive experience of running ‘The Global Teacher Award’(GTA). We closely collaborated with its Education Officer, Ms. Vicky Donnelly, and we even incorporated the Global Teacher Award into our project. This was attractive to students wishing to have some formal recognition for their efforts–school principals have come to acknowledge student teachers’ GTA achievements and have employed student teachers for the purpose of enhancing the social and civic profile of their school communities. Ms. Donnelly has contributed greatly to the successful delivery of our ‘Id Est’ project workshops and, in turn, has also contributed greatly to our own capacity building and understanding of how we might approach the ongoing development of our work.
Apart from the dedicated twelve two-hour sessions with studentteachers (incorporating the GTA), we also explored where Development Education could be incorporated into the core curriculum so that the wider PME student cohort could be exposed in some ways to DE principles and practice. As time went by,we also developed internal partnerships in UCC and we still work closely with CIRTL, the Centre for Global Development,and the Civic Engagement team. Our work is aligned too with UCC’s Strategic Plan 2017-2022and Academic Strategy (2018 -2022). For instance,one such UCC goal is toembed“a global perspective in all of UCC’s activities”,whilethe University’s Civic Engagement Plan promotes “active community and regional engagement”.Our project is a particularly good example of a successful ‘connected curriculum’, a concept which currently informs UCC’s academic strategy. Not only does it have a global reach in terms of content and practical action-based projects, it also encourages civic and community engagement, sustainability, as well as inter-and trans-disciplinarity.


Each year students are involved in evaluating the project, mainly through focus group discussions and online surveys. Students advise on the future development of this work, and their ideas and suggestions are very much welcomed and serve to help with our design and implementation into the future. For instance, this year (2020 at the time of writing)students were asked to help in the development of a proposed five credit module which we would like to see incorporated as an elective module in the PME programme. We are currently developing this module in responseto very strong student feedback on this issue.Each year PME studentsare invited to participate in a series of classes on a range of themes and concepts such as social justice, global citizenship, power, sustainable development, financial and trade justice, human rights, equalityandforced migration. Students are enabled to introduce ideas of social, economic, environmental and political justice into their teaching practice, as well astheir research portfolios. Together-educators, PME students and pupilsin their classrooms-explore such complex issues and co-develop skills, knowledge, valuesand attitudes which can lead to action for positive social change. Development Global Citizenship Education (DGCE) also teaches students how to engage with innovative and democraticlearning methodologies which help them and their pupils develop critical, creative and collaborative approaches to solving local and global justice issues.  There is a constant linking of the local and the globalin our work together. This is manifest in the aforementioned Global Teacher Award(GTA).To gain the GTA the students must carry out a practical (‘action’-based) project. Each year we take an innovative approach to project work and we also support students in this work through class visits, tutorials and individualand groupdiscussions. The nature of this project varies depending on the needs and interests of the students. In 2018, for instance,many of the studentteachers in our ‘IdEst’ projectwere Art teachers. Having introduced themto the core concepts of Development Global Citizenship Education in core lectures,and having engaged them in dialogical learning withguest lecturers from both the Galway One World Centre and Trocaire, we set outto work with the students to curate an exhibition at the Glucksman Art Gallery, UCC.Theexhibitionwas called ‘We Make the Road by Walking’–this has been captured in sound, radio and image at this website:

This art exhibitionis a journey through DGCE from the perspectives of Post-primary and Third level students and it showcases the creative work carried out by pupils in classrooms all across the Corkregion. To prepare for the exhibition we facilitated twoextra workshops with renowned professional curator Mr. John Rafftery and we also secured theprofessional expertise of Mr. Tadgh Crowley, senior curator with the Glucksman Gallery.In other years of ‘Id Est’ projects, we incorporatedDGCE into studentteachers’ ProfessionalResearch Papers; we facilitated students in assisting in, and running,a major DGCE conference at UCC (see http://representing-education.gertrudecotter.info/); and we enabled students to present and implement targeted DGCE lesson plans and incorporatethese into their ‘live’ teaching practice portfolios. All these projects are showcased on the ‘Id Est’ website: see www.idestucc.ie. One of our main challenges with such work has been to find space within the existing (very busy)core PME curriculum. To address this particular concern, our currentproject objective (2020-2021) is to pilot afull Development Global Citizenship Education module which wehave designed this year. Our hope is that a DGCE module will ultimately be developed and integrated as an optional/elective module in the PME. While we cannot guarantee this, our ‘Plan B’ is to develop a Certificate course for student teachers which they can take over two years (with 12 x two-hour classes in total and an assessment that requires the participants to plan, deliver and evaluate -from theoretical and practical perspectives -at least three DGCE lessons in their Post-primary school setting). We would like to acknowledge the incredible support we receive from our colleagues in Ubuntuwho represent most of the Third Level institutions in the country. Regular sharing of support,and dialogues around constant challenges and creative good practices, has added greatly to the success of our ‘IdEst’project. The Ubuntu Network is a constant source of support, as is the Journal Development Education Policy and Practicewherein we often present and disseminate ourwork to the wider scholarly community.