Increased migration of people(s), goods, ideas and ideologies necessitate global understanding, empathies and responses on the part of teachers and their students. This paper investigates the effects on 100 primary pre-service teachers' understandings of and attitudes toward a semester-long course exploring, inter alia, global development. The research was undertaken in Sydney, Australia. Near-identical surveys were administered at the course's beginning and end, for comparison. Additionally, four students volunteered to participate in a focus group for further discussion. Students' understandings, including misunderstandings, are examined in the context of their future professional responsibilities and of the related literature. While attitudes to those in underdeveloped countries appeared generally empathetic, this was premised on relatively limited or inaccurate 'knowledge'. The paper questions the adequacy of compassion as a motivating factor in global development education and action, and related subject shortcomings. Moreover, it examines the contribution of compassion as an enabler or impediment to global equities and justices, and considers other approaches. The paper also explores implications for teacher education and accordingly posits some recommendations.