Policy & Practice - A Development Education Review



The Elephant in the Room: Towards a Discourse on Development Education and Corporate Power

Creating New Economic Paradigms: The Role of Development Education
Spring 2012

Andy Egan

In this article, Andy Egan examines the extent to which corporate power is included within the current discourse and practice of development education (DE) in the UK.  He highlights the contradiction between the aims of DE and the lack of attention given to issues of corporate power in either literature or practice.  He reports on research with Development Education Centres (DECs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on their practice in this area and considers the opportunities and constraints for greater DE engagement.  He argues that issues of corporate power should be central to DE theory and practice and suggests a pedagogical framework for critical literacy on corporate power.

Introduction – The World in which we Live

Global corporations have a big influence on the daily lives of the seven billion people that live on our planet.  Whether it is what we eat and drink, or even whether we can eat and drink, what we wear, what we watch on television, what music we listen to, what we learn at school, college or university, how we travel, what type of work we do, our health, our finances, the public services we have access to, and the type of environment we live in.  The influence of global corporations compares to or even exceeds that of national governments; and global corporations and national governments are often working closely together to shape the lives we lead and the world in which we live (Bakan, 2005).  Recent research has revealed that 147 global corporations, 75 percent of whom are financial corporations, form a core tightly-knit ‘super-entity’ that exerts disproportionate control over the global economy (Vitali, Glattfelder and Battiston, 2011).

          Global corporations have been the driving force of neoliberal economic globalisation and are very much the face of capitalism in the global South (Keet, 2010).  Makwana has described how these economic policies and practices have determined the reproduction of poverty and injustice and the growing inequalities between rich and poor across the world (Makwana, 2006a).  While small elites have undoubtedly benefitted – the growth in the number of millionaires and billionaires in Asia has been trumpeted by Business Week and Fortune magazines as evidence of the success of corporate globalisation - many communities have been fighting sometimes life and death battles to prevent the destructive impact of global corporations on their lives and their environment (Korten, 2001).  Inequalities of wealth and income are now greater than at any time in recent human history (Ortiz and Cummins, 2011), and we are living in an era of the fastest mass extinction of species and destruction of biodiversity in Earth’s recent history (WWF International, 2006).

          As the power of global corporations has increased over the past 40 years, so the power of governments and ordinary citizens to determine or influence policies in areas such as trade or the environment has diminished (Allen, 2007; Beder, 2008; Schwab, 2008).  External dependency has been an enduring feature of many economies in the global South, particularly in post-independent African nations.  Their governments are often more accountable to global corporations, international financial institutions (IFIs) and even development NGOs than their own people.  In Mozambique, for example, foreign sources contribute half of the national budget (Quartapelle, 2011).  Indeed, we can now see this to be a growing phenomenon in Western countries, like Greece and Ireland, particularly in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis (Douzinas, 2010; Kirby, 2012). 

          This dependency is a consequence of neoliberal policies – promoted by think tanks and lobbyists funded by global corporations – including deregulation of financial transactions, privatisation of public assets and utilities, cutting public expenditure and reducing corporate taxation (Cerny, 2008; Plehwe and Walpen, 2007).  The hegemony of neoliberalism has resulted in Western governments having little option but to bail out failing financial corporations – such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the United States (USA) and the Royal Bank of Scotland in the UK – for fear of the entire capitalist system collapsing (Kiersey, 2011).  People worldwide are being asked to pay the cost through increased taxes and prices for food and other essentials, job losses and pay and pension cuts.  This has led to mass protests in countries across the world.  A spike in food prices was a contributory factor in the uprisings in the Arab world which have toppled the government in Tunisia and President in Egypt (Zurayk, 2011).  These uprisings together with protests in Spain and Greece inspired the Occupy movement against corporate greed and the inequities of capitalism, which is now active in more than 1,500 cities across the world (Occupy Together, 2011).  Whether this global wave of citizen protest, and its leaderless, horizontal and non-violent ethos, will lead to meaningful change is a critical debate for the DE sector to engage with, as Jacobs states:

“The uprisings in Egypt and everywhere remind us that direct action is an important pillar for the poor and the oppressed all over the world.  Direct action needs to be combined with a radical emancipatory politics to free humanity and mother earth.   Otherwise, this whole thing becomes an exercise in impacting the media, and then we go away and the corporations and the state continue to run the show” (Pambazuka News, issue 567).

          This article is based upon research with DE organisations in the UK, which sought to identify how the phenomenon of the growth of corporate power features within both DE discourse and practice.  Given the increasing dominance of private corporations over the global economy, national and international policy frameworks and the lives of citizens across the world, one might expect that the role of global corporations in relation to democracy, citizenship and human and planetary wellbeing would be a central issue for DE.  The findings from my research suggest, however, that corporate power is a peripheral issue for DE in the UK.

Development Education and Corporate Power

DE as a concept was inspired by the desire to create a relationship with the global South based on more than just aid, recognising the need for social justice, self-determination and the importance of solidarity.  The key aims of DE include ‘increasing understanding of the global economic, social and political environmental forces which shape our lives’ and ‘working to achieve a more just and sustainable world in which power and resources are equitably shared’ (Lancashire Global Education Centre Ltd).  The pedagogy of DE has been largely influenced by the popular educationalist Paulo Freire.  Bourn defines this pedagogy as: ‘recognising dominant and subordinate cultures and consequent influence on power and ideology; questioning dominant myths and ideas to go beneath the surface and look at root causes and social contexts’ (Bourn, 2011).

          It would seem inconsistent therefore that, based on my research, there is an absence of literature that explicitly considers the issue of corporate power within DE, and only a relatively small body of work that addresses the issue indirectly through discussion of the economy, neoliberalism, globalisation and questions regarding the radical or conformist nature of current DE practice.  To take one recent example, even when Selby and Kagawa point out that current DE discourse fails to give explicit attention to issues of economic growth, neoliberal globalisation and consumerism ‘when so clearly complicit in deepening poverty and injustice and harming the environment’, they do not include the role of global corporations in promoting these policies and structures that enable them to drive and accrue ever increasing profits and power from this global growth machine (Selby and Kagawa, 2011: 25).  This indicates an analytical deficit, which Bryan suggests has been accompanied by a depoliticisation of DE practice through its mainstreaming into school curricula (Bryan, 2011).  It is pertinent therefore to consider whether DE can still be effective without raising awareness of the underlying structural causes of poverty, inequality and injustice.

          The DE sector has generally welcomed the inclusion of global citizenship within school curricula.  We need however to consider whether the orientation of subjects like citizenship has limited learning to identifying what opportunities exist for young people to act as citizens without also critically analysing how that democratic space has shrunk over recent decades as the power of global corporations has grown.  Schattle contrasts school based global citizenship which has been largely individualistic – seeking to cultivate informed and ethical citizens – with  collective notions calling for the development of institutions and processes of global governance that would establish a collective model of global citizenship and stewardship for governments and corporations (Schattle, 2008).  We need to question the relevance of the concept of citizenship promoted by DE to rapidly changing economic and technological contexts and in enabling people to understand, question and engage with the diverse new forms of social movements for global justice.  Is a focus on personal issues rather than active involvement in political issues resulting in a failure to engage young people in a meaningful way with issues of power?  Should DE therefore be seeking to give greater attention to making explicit that the‘prerequisite for global citizenship is…knowledge about the uses and misuses of power’ (Harford College Centre for Peace and Global Citizenship, quoted in Schattle, 2008: 76).

          We can further contemplate whether the various redefinitions of DE in the formal sector as a ‘global dimension’ or ‘global citizenship’ have resulted in a mollification of the more radical roots of DE.  Andreotti described the form of global citizenship being promoted in schools as ‘soft’ rather than ‘critical’ (Andreotti, 2006).  The official guidance in England on the eight global dimension concepts – including interdependence, globalisation, human rights, social justice and sustainable development – makes no mention of the role of global corporations (DfES, 2005).  The obfuscation of the issue of power through the use of euphemistic terms such as ‘interdependence’ may have limited the scope of DE in practice.  This ‘softening’ of DE and a consequent disjuncture between education and action is viewed by Cameron and Fairbrass as partly due to a political agenda by government.  They argue that the Department for International Development (DfID) – despite providing statutory funding for DE work – has played a pivotal role in narrowing the space for more radical approaches to DE by channelling its funding to awareness raising activities and proscribing ‘initiatives which involve direct lobbying of the UK government or of international organisations of which the UK is a member, or which involve lobbying for or against activities of particular companies individuals or institutions’ (DfID, 2000: 3, quoted in Cameron and Fairbrass, 2004).

          Neoliberal globalisation has had a huge impact on education and Bryan expresses concerns that DE has been co-opted into the normalisation of neoliberalism by tacitly accepting the brief to prepare young people to compete and consume in the global economy, and to view development aid as a virtuous moral endeavour rather an integral element of neoliberal globalisation (Bryan, 2011).  Is DE, as Bryan argues, accepting rather than questioning ‘the ideologies and institutions that have created excessive wealth and persistent poverty’? (Bryan, 2011: 9)  Is it equally the case that DE is not enabling young people to develop ‘the skills and capacities for resistance and transgression’? (Selby and Kagawa, 2011: 20)  Some believe so, with Ellis advocating that education ‘should raise awareness of exploitation, corporate power, the state-consumer-media-military construction of desirers, identities, values, and the place of global citizenship’ (Ellis, 2010: 6).  Such concerns are reinforced by a recent Think Global publication ‘Cultivating a global outlook for a global economy’in which any consideration of the ways in which the current global economy generates inequality, injustice and unsustainable consumption is strikingly absent.  Instead the report concludes that ‘all young people should have access to high quality global learning to promote social mobility and ensure the UK economy remains competitive’ (Think Global, 2011).  Think Global appears to be accepting a neoliberal globalisation agenda for the early twenty-first century and is promoting ‘global learning’ as a pedagogical tool for reproduction, preparing young people with the global skills required by the corporate sector, rather than transformation.

          Postcolonial theory has perhaps had the greatest impact on reaffirming the centrality of critical thinking and dialogue within current DE discourse and practice through the writings of Andreotti and development of methodologies such as open spaces for dialogue and enquiry (OSDE).  Advocacy of critical literacy is also evident in the adoption of initiatives such as Philosophy for Children by a number of DECs including Cumbria Development Education Centre (CDEC) and Development Education Centre South Yorkshire (DECSY).  While postcolonial theory emphasises unequal access to power and resources, and the reproduction of this inequality through education (including global citizenship education), Lazarus observes that the discourse has tended to be framed in cultural and social rather than economic and political terms (Lazarus, 2011).  It has perhaps also fallen into an artificial North-South binary that does not correlate to the reality of global economic structures and institutions (Bryan, 2011).  

          While postcolonial theory provides an essential framework in terms of understanding the continuing legacy of colonialism and its reproduction through present day globalisation, it can be argued that it does not adequately capture either the supra-national characteristics and operations of global corporations, the impact of migration on societies in the global North, and the impact of neoliberal globalisation on both the global North and global South.  This deficit can preclude people seeing the struggle for justice being both local as well as global, and understanding that the fermenters of injustice both North and South are one and the same.  McCloskey highlights the importance of DE engaging with local as well as global issues, citing the example of the European Union/International Monetary Fund (EU/IMF) loan to Ireland: ‘development educators need to be more proactively and overtly political in their operations’ (McCloskey, 2011: 41).

          The predominant discourse in DE has been located within the ‘development’ narrative.  DE’s gaze on the global South has therefore tended to focus on the symptoms of unequal power and resource distribution in terms of the negative human and environmental impacts.  DE has to some extent been co-opted into the development aid paradigm and not engaged with and reflected through practice the voices from the global South who see both ‘development’ and ‘aid’ as externally imposed concepts and part of imperialist strategies to sustain continued subjugation and impoverishment (Tandon, 2012).  Manji views ‘development’ as a fraud promulgated by Western powers and well meaning but misguided NGOs that serves to legitimise the continued exploitation of Africa to provide the necessary raw materials for globalisation (Manji, 2002).  Perhaps the historical relationship between DE and development NGOs discourages DECs from shining a critical light on the ‘role NGOs have played in expanding and consolidating neo-liberal hegemony in the global context’ (Ibid: 13).  DECs have perhaps been overwhelmed by the dominant culture of development NGO-fuelled and celebrity-adorned charity and paternalism.  A combination of these factors likely explains why DE has struggled to popularise a culture of solidarity as a more just and equitable basis for engagement of young people in the UK with their counterparts in the global South.

          Ní Chasaide proposes that the challenge for practitioners is to reassert DE’s principles of joining learning with action for global justice (Ní Chasaide, 2011).  Two key questions arise from this.  How can DE provide open learning spaces to consider and develop critical understanding of the relationship between corporate power and global justice?  And how can DE develop processes that link critical understanding of corporate power to collective action as citizens to engage with and challenge global corporations identified as contributing to global injustice, inequality and poverty?  DE can also play an important role in enabling people to explore more just and sustainable alternatives to the neoliberal capitalist growth model.

          DECs and campaigning NGOs, like Friends of the Earth and the World Development Movement (WDM), share the aim of helping to create a more just and sustainable world.  Yet there are few examples of collaboration in recent years and there appears to be a growing disconnect between learning and activism for global justice as a result.  Gyoh argues that the increasing professionalisation and specialisation of both sectors may be one of the factors at play (Gyoh, 2011).  DECs have become more focussed on formal education delivering in-service training (INSET) for teachers and curriculum based learning for students.  Campaigning NGOs that employ staff have become increasingly focussed on research, policy analysis and lobbying of politicians, governments and corporations.  They often devise pre-determined campaigns (based on their research and analysis) with prescribed ways of how people can engage in advocacy by, for example, signing letters and petitions to their Member of Parliament (MP), member of the European Parliament (MEP), government ministers or Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of corporations.  It is easy to see how the mainstreaming of DE and the professionalisation of campaigning has had the (unintended) result of reducing interaction.  The two sectors have also become increasingly focussed on different constituencies with DE concentrating on work with young people in schools, and campaigning NGOs largely concentrating on running campaigns and mobilising adults.  The result is that ‘the relationship between DE and NGO work around knowledge-based advocacy has remained underutilised in building a constituency of active global civil society’ (Ibid: 93).

          Within campaigning NGOs there is recognition, shared by some within the development NGO sector, that some of their methods have limited their role in educating and mobilising new activists for global justice (Darnton and Kirk, 2011).  The need to reach out and build movements as well as running campaigns is acknowledged.  Within DE, voices are being raised that the concern with promoting awareness of international efforts to address global poverty such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which address the symptoms rather than the root causes of global poverty – has taken precedence over the need to engage learners in critical analysis and reflection on existing development paradigms (Gyoh, 2011).

          One of the conceptual challenges for DE practitioners is facilitating critical understanding of the increasing complexity of the economic system and the practices of global corporations; an essential task if DE is, for example, going to ‘critically examine the conditionality imposed by financial institutions in accelerating the pace of privatisation, and focus on institutional capacity building and provisions that would compel multinationals to act responsibly’ (Ibid: 91).  The recent ActionAid campaign on tax avoidance highlights the complexity of the operations of global corporations such as: use of tax havens, subsidiary royalty payments, subsidiary management service fees and offsetting interest payments (ActionAid, 2011).  With this excellent source material it would be interesting to explore why ActionAid's own education section has not produced any educational resources about this issue or more generally on corporate power.

          Within larger development NGOs there has been a degree of incorporation – induced by increased funding – into the government’s development agenda, and a shift towards working in partnership with the corporate sector (Lownsbrough, 2009; Rugendyke and Hearfield, 2011).  It is likely that DfID’s promotion of the role of the private sector in development will accelerate these processes (DfID, 2011).  Development NGO relationships with citizens has become more transactional as they seek to sustain funding levels for their international aid programmes (Darnton and Kirk, 2011).  Even their more limited campaigning work (since Make Poverty History in 2005) has usually been tied to encouraging the public to donate money.  ActionAid is the one of the few large development NGO that has continued to invest in new high profile campaigns to highlight the role of global corporations in exacerbating global poverty.  The smaller campaigning NGOs that focus on transformation, such as War on Want, WDM, People & Planet and the Jubilee Debt Campaign, view the preoccupation with development aid as weakening the global justice movement in terms of both creating a new generation of activists and in pressing for fundamental institutional change.

          The contraction of statutory funding for both DECs and NGOs may serve as a further disincentive for collaboration, compounded by a narrower DFID focus on DE in schools (DfID, 2011; NCVO, 2011).  With many DECs and NGOs losing staff and cutting services as a result of the economic downturn and reduced support for DE, the need to find alternative sources of funding or different ways of working has become more urgent.  However, this challenge could also present an opportunity for DECs and campaigning NGOs to work together to create ‘dynamic spaces for envisioning common political goals and collaborative approaches to achieving them’ (Ní Chasaide, 2009: 33).

Review of Current DE Practice on Corporate Power

The primary research I conducted on this issue in the UK consisted of online questionnaires sent to all recognised Development Education Centres (DECs) and other key DE and global learning organisations – assessing inclusion of corporate power themes within their educational activities, identifying educational resources produced and gauging the impacts of their activities.  I also included in the survey eighteen selected NGO campaigning organisations specialising in action on corporate power with a view to identifying educational resources produced, evidence of collaboration with DECs and the impacts of their activities (Egan, 2011).  The DEC and NGO response rates were 70 percent and 56 percent respectively. This was followed by semi-structured interviews conducted with staff from two DECs and two NGOs to obtain perspectives on: the relative importance of corporate power as an issue for DE and potential constraints; suggestions for the attributes that young people need to develop in relation to the role of global corporations in society; ideas for DE activity on corporate power; and views on the potential for greater DE and NGO collaboration in this area.

          While the literature is silent, there is evidence of some DE practice on corporate power.  Exactly half of the DEC respondents indicated that they have done some educational work on issues of global corporations and power (Egan, 2011).  Responses suggested, however, that activity has decreased in recent years. Furthermore, only 19 percent of DECs have produced educational resources relating to corporate power, with more having run training courses or workshops (39 percent) or produced lesson plans (23 percent).  In contrast, 70 percent of NGO respondents have produced educational resources on corporate power and 60 percent have delivered training courses or workshops.  While more DECs use the term ‘corporate power’ rather than ‘corporate responsibility’ or ‘corporate accountability’ to refer to the role of global corporations in society, nearly 30 percent of DECs use no term at all, reflecting its absence from their agenda, with one respondent stating ‘we haven't thought about it – hence no term’ (DEC30).

          A small number of DECs have implemented specific projects on themes of business, commerce, the economy and globalisation.  The most notable was Norwich Education and Action for Development (NEAD)'s ‘Just Business’ project funded by DfID and The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation until 2004 (Just Business,http://www.jusbiz.org/).  Powys Environment and Development Education Centre (PEDEC)’s business links project, ‘Trade Without Tragedy’, which was funded by DfID from 2004-2007 and aimed to help businesses and trade unions understand the impacts that ‘every business deal or operation’ has on ‘the lives of people in far off places and…upon the ecology of our fragile planet’ (PEDEC, http://www.pedec.org.uk/commercial/).  Reading International Solidarity Centre (RISC) has produced a number of resources including ‘Xchanging the World’ (1997) and ‘Cost of Coffee’ (2005) and contributed to a resource pack published by Baby Milk Action, ‘Seeing Through the Spin’ (2001) (RISC resources, http://www.risc.org.uk/education/risc_publications.php).  A current EU funded partnership including Cumbria Development Education Centre (CDEC) has produced the ‘P2P (Poverty to Prosperity) Challenge Packs’, with the ‘Climate Change and Economy’ pack including content on the role and impact of global corporations with a case study on Apple Inc. featuring the ‘Journey of an iPad’ (P2P: Climate Change and Economy,  http://poverty2prosperity.eu/packs).  The degree to which issues of corporate power are considered in these resources varies, and there is a tendency in most of the food themed resources to promote fair trade as the primary solution to exploitation.

          A number of constraints were identified by DECs to undertaking activity on issues of corporate power.  A key one is a perceived lack of capacity and expertise with the following response from one DEC typical of many:

“Difficult to keep properly up to date with corporate issues and factual information to make sure the activities are right. This is costly in staff time, and means that these activities become simplified” (DEC11).

          Several DECs explained that issues of corporate power were not a priority in their work: ‘As a small organisation we are largely driven by what schools want and they don't come up with this’ (DEC9).  Politics was identified as a constraint from two different perspectives.  One is that issues of corporate power are regarded as too political or controversial by schools, the main clients of DEC services.  The other is that many DECs are themselves politically conservative as illustrated by the following comment: ‘The DE sector is so conservative; reluctant to challenge power with a few honourable exceptions’ (DEC5).  The fear factor was raised by some respondents as a related inhibiting factor based on the past record of some corporations in making complaints, issuing threats or taking legal action against any criticism of their activities.

          Access to funding was identified by a number of DECs as a constraint: ‘Issues to do with corporate power are not popular with funders however we do think it is of increasing importance in today's society’ (DEC28).  Despite the various constraints identified there was a unanimous response from both DEC and NGO respondents that issues of corporate power should be given more priority in DE:

“The current economy is unsustainable and corporate power is a big part of the problem. If we don't curb some of what is happening we will be leaving a bad future for the children we are currently asking to be good global citizens” (DEC7).

“The world cannot be properly understood without understanding the central part that corporate power plays” (NGO5).

“If the main aim of development education is to work towards a fairer and more sustainable world it is imperative that issues of corporate power be explored, discussed and challenged” (DEC23).

          This finding should, however, be seen in context with responses to another question which asked respondents to rank a list of 27 global issues on a scale of 1 to 5.  While corporate power was ranked equal first by NGOs it was only ranked eighteenth by DECs.  This finding suggesting that corporate power is not regarded as central to the aims of DE perhaps reflects the lack of discourse on the significance of global corporations in relation to justice, equality and sustainability.

A Framework for Corporate Power in DE Pedagogy

The research, particularly the interviews, gathered suggestions on the skills and knowledge people should acquire in order to critically analyse and assess the role of global corporations in society. These can be summarised as:

  • considering our historical, present and future relationships with global corporations as citizens, consumers and workers;
  • expressing empathy and solidarity with communities damaged by and challenging corporate abuses of power;
  • and taking collective action to help ensure that the operations of global corporations are ethical, equitable, just and environmentally sustainable.

          The challenge is to apply existing DE pedagogical frameworks to devise methodologies for presenting information about corporate power, and it’s underpinning neoliberal ideology, so that people can research and explore, engage in dialogue and make their own assessments and conclusions.  A synthesis of ideas from the research suggests the following possible framework of attributes that DE could seek to encourage people to develop in relation to corporate power.

A DE Framework for Critical Literacy on Corporate Power



History of corporations, including their involvement in colonialism

The legal status of corporations

The neoliberal ideology that supports corporate power

The political, economic, social, cultural and environmental dimensions of corporate power

Positive and negative impacts of global corporations on society and the environment

The role of corporations in education

The methods used by corporations to develop young people as consumers

The scope for ethical corporate behaviours

Differences between corporations and ethically orientated private businesses and social enterprises


Thinking critically about complex issues

Analysing the media

Giving space to different perspectives and voices

Making informed choices

Creativity in ethical and sustainable behaviour

Imagining different futures


Commitment to global justice

Respect for human rights

Respect for the natural environment and the Earth’s biocapacity

Motivation to take action


After three decades of economic globalisation and the inexorable rise of global corporations and hyper-consumption, we live in a world where a tiny minority enjoy unprecedented wealth while almost half the population is denied basic goods and services, and the natural environment is being ravaged.  The future actions of global corporations will be crucial in determining the well-being of humanity and the Earth’s ecosystem.  It seems improbable that ‘the commercialisation of all resources and their distribution through a tiny number of oligarchic corporations’ will ensure a healthy outcome (Makwana, 2006b).  So where does DE fit into this picture?  Of what value will our efforts be to help create tomorrow’s global citizens if democracy continues to exist in name only?  For as long as the DE sector remains largely silent about corporate power in both its discourse and practice, the answer is likely to be very little.  We ignore this elephant in our room at all our peril.

            I believe that DE can offer a pedagogy of hope to educators and citizens that can question and challenge the hegemony of corporate power, as Giroux states: ‘Critical pedagogy currently offers the very best, perhaps the only, chance for young people to develop and assert a sense of their rights and responsibilities to participate in governing, and simply being governed by prevailing ideological and material forces’ (Giroux, 2010).  The research I have conducted indicated that there is for example scope for greater DEC and NGO collaboration to develop resources, curricula and activities on corporate power that enable both deeper learning and link learning to engagement in action for justice and sustainability.  DE can provide expertise in designing educational resources and participatory methodologies appropriate to engaging people in learning and motivating them to take action.  NGOs can provide the expert and up-to-date knowledge of corporate practices, economic and political systems, and expertise in developing effective campaigning strategies.  Further, the new Development Education & Awareness Raising (DEAR) strategy adopted by the EU provides the promise of resources to facilitate collaboration on global learning, advocacy and campaigning on corporate power (Development Education and the European Commission, 2010).

          Understanding corporate power should be central to DE’s aims of enabling people to understand global development issues, and enabling active and effective global citizenship.  In practice this can be achieved through developing critical literacy to enable: a deeper understanding of how global corporations secure and sustain their power; engagement with global corporations to promote justice and sustainability; and a global civil society that demands corporate accountability and supports alternative ethical economic and business models.


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Andy Egan is Director of Symbio Development Consultancy and has a background in development education, community development, equalities and campaigning for local and global social justice.  Andy led the Global School Partnerships programme at British Council before moving to People & Planet as Director.  He has co-authored teaching and learning materials for schools in African and European countries on the environment, health, global poverty, education, gender and global partnerships.  Andy has recently completed an MA in Development Education and his dissertation research provides the source material for this article.

Egan, A (2012) ‘The Elephant in the Room: Towards a Discourse on Development Education and Corporate Power’, Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review, Vol. 14, Spring, pp. 45-63.