Innovation Award

2017 – 2018

In 2017 and 2018, GENE – Global Education Network Europe – recognised the importance of innovation in Global Education through its Global Education Innovation Award. The award benefited Global Education projects that bring about positive change and opens peoples’ eyes and minds to the realities of the world, locally and globally. It promoted Global Education initiatives that brought about this change through creativity, participation, direct action, synergies and innovation, and to ultimately inspire public policy.

Over the past decades, Global Education initiatives have been implemented across many European countries. Whether in nonformal educational contexts, or in schools, as part of the curriculum, Global Education contributes to a change in perspectives, attitudes and behaviours among children, young people, students, educators, teachers, parents, as well as decision-makers and other actors in society. A variety of global-local interconnectedness initiatives have over the years addressed issues including social exclusion, poverty, migration, human rights violations and intolerance and enabled learning of different competencies that range from critical thinking to compassion and empathy.

2018 Innovation Award winners

In a world of stark contrasts, opportunities to change perceptions in new, non-traditional and innovative ways need to be supported, applauded and recognised. In particular, initiatives should be supported that respond to challenging questions, such as “How do we engage people who are not easy to reach?”, or “How can innovative Global Education start to change the perceptions of those whose values differ from those associated with Global Education – tolerance, solidarity, non-violence?”.

GENE is aware that most Global Education funds encourage highlighting results rather than innovation, and leave little or no space for reflecting on failure. Yet, research shows that policymakers and others can learn invaluable lessons from failure, as it often results in new breakthroughs and in creative thought based on new thinking (Nedergaard, P. 2006). Innovation funds in other sectors are happy to fund initiatives that result in 90% failure, on the basis that the remaining 10% represents potential breakthroughs that can elicit a paradigm shift. Why not in Global Education?

In 2017, at the meeting on the Global Education Innovation Award, the members of International Selection Committee and GENE Board reflected on Global Education as a form of education that involves critical pedagogy, critical thinking, dynamic of structures, and a reflection on practices in the wider context considering the contents and methodology. The notion of innovation was discussed in light of transformative learning that can lead to a better understanding of the shifting power relations, the key challenges related to sustainability, local empowerment for global impact and the global initiatives with local impact. It was also highlighted that innovation is only created through the ability to take a risk and the ability of freedom to experiment. As a result, this call offered a way to inspire GENE, as well as the wider public, by showing and expressing passion for transformative learning.



GENE 2018 Global Education Innovation Award Brochure

Presentation of the 20 selected initiatives of the first edition of the Global Education Innovation Award, including the 7 awardees.


GENE 2017 Global Education Innovation Award Brochure

Presentation of the 32 selected initiatives of the first edition of the Global Education Innovation Award, including the 12 awardees.


In 2018, the following aspects were considered:

  • Transformative learning – involves a personal and collective process of reflection that leads to a shift in perceptions in the understanding of oneself, one’s believes and one’s behaviour that involves changes in lifestyle. It also comprises a capacity to learn from the experience, including failure in order to promote positive change.
  • Interconnectedness global-local – what happens in the local context is linked to the global level and vice-versa; the so-called “glocal” dimension.
  • Educational approach – where all those involved are learners and take an active role in the learning process, whether in formal or non-formal educational settings.
  • Creativity – a genuine process that demonstrates outside-the-box thinking.
  • Coherence – the initiative enhances synergies and coherence between the purpose, the educational approaches and the testimonies of participating persons and groups.
  • Outreach – addressed public, with a particular focus on groups that are not engaged in Global Education – for example low-skilled unemployed populations, young people not in education or groups that are considering radical nationalist, religious and / or racist ideologies as the only options available.
  • Inspiring for Public Policy – GENE facilitates policy learning and for this reason experiences can become show cases for public policy.

Applicants were encouraged to tell the story of how their initiative contributes to transformative learning and change of perceptions among their audiences and explain in what ways their approach is innovative in their contexts.


For more information, please see the following sections:

Ideas Award 2019

Awardees 2019

Awardees 2018

Awardees 2017

Global Education Network Europe (GENE) receives funding from the European Union. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of GENE and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.