Identifying Critical Cosmopolitanism in Teacher Education: Diversity and Social Justice in China

Yuxiang Zhu, University of Wisconsin-Madison
4:00 pm -4:30 pm (Room 235)



This interview study explores Chinese pre-service teachers’ perceptions of diversity and social justice within the context of globalization and how their programs approached these topics. Focusing on understanding the participants’ local activities, knowledge, and experiences with issues of diversity and social justice, this study identifies several moments where the participants demonstrated ways of thinking that resembled critical cosmopolitanism as well as moments where that did not happen. Their responses reveal the struggle of preservice teachers under the performative requirements enforced by the institutions, which in many ways mirrored teachers’ experiences across the world when facing neoliberal education reforms. However, the study also demonstrates the eagerness and thoughtfulness of these aspiring teachers to explore more about issues of diversity and social justice. Which goes against the stereotypes which deems Chinese people as uncritical or always conforming to the norms. The study concludes that critical cosmopolitan teacher education may be a powerful tool in cultivating teachers who can address equity and power issues in local classrooms as well as having the capacity to engage with global issues as they unfold. However, it is important to note that this approach of teacher preparation is not and cannot be prescriptive. The first step in implementing such an approach, the researcher argues, starts with a deep understanding of our pre-service teachers’ ontology of place: who they are, where they are, what they believe in, and what they are concerned about.