Global citizenship

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

In broad usage, the term global citizenship has much the same meaning as world citizen. The term also has additional, specialized senses in differing contexts, particularly in education and political philosophy.


The term "citizenship" refers to an identity between a person and a city, state or nation and their right to work, live and participate politically in a particular geographic area. When combined with the term "global", it typically defines a person who places their identity with a "global community" above their identity as a citizen of a particular nation or place. The idea is that one’s identity transcends geography or political borders and that responsibilities or rights are or can be derived from membership in a broader class: "humanity". This does not mean that such a person denounces or waives their nationality or other, more local identities, but such identities are given "second place" to their membership in a global community.[1]

In general usage, the term may have much the same meaning as World citizen or Cosmopolitan, but it also has additional, specialized meanings in differing contexts.



In education, the term is most often used to describe a worldview or a set of values toward which education is oriented (see, for example, the priorities of the Global Education First Initiative led by the Secretary-General of the United Nations).[2]

Within the educational system, the concept of global citizenship education (GCE) is beginning to supersede or overarch movements such as multicultural education, peace education, human rights education and international education.[3] Additionally, GCE rapidly incorporates references to the aforementioned movements. The concept of global citizenship has been linked with awards offered for helping humanity.[4] Teachers are being given the responsibility of being social change agents.[5] Audrey Osler, director of the Centre for Citizenship and Human Rights Education, the University of Leeds, affirms that “Education for living together in an interdependent world is not an optional extra, but an essential foundation”.[6]

Noteworthy, Global Education Magazine is a digital journal supported by UNESCO and UNHCR, inspired in the universal values of the Declaration of Emerging Human Rights that aims to contribute to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by GCE consciousness.[7] An initiative launched by the teaching team that formulated the proposal most voted in the group “Sustainable Development for the Eradication of Poverty in Rio+20”.[8]

With GCE gaining attention, scholars are investigating the field and developing perspectives. The following are a few of the more common perspectives.

Critical and Transformative Perspective

Citizenship is defined by being a member with rights and responsibilities. Therefore, GCE must encourage active involvement. GCE can be taught from a critical and transformative perspective, whereby students are thinking feeling, and doing. In this approach, GCE requires students to be politically critical and personally transformative. Teachers provide social issues in a neutral and grade-appropriate way for students to understand, grapple with, and do something about.[9]


Graham Pike and David Selby view GCE as having two strands. Worldmindedness, the first strand, refers to understanding the world as one unified system and a responsibility to view the interests of individual nations with the overall needs of the planet in mind. The second strand, Child-centeredness, is a pedagogical approach that encourages students to explore and discover on their own and addresses each learner as an individual with inimitable beliefs, experiences, and talents.[10]

Holistic Understanding

The Holistic Understanding perspective was founded by Merry Merryfield, focusing on understanding the self in relation to a global community. This perspective follows a curriculum that attends to human values and beliefs, global systems, issues, history, cross-cultural understandings, and the development of analytical and evaluative skills.[5]


Global citizenship, in some contexts, may refer to a brand of ethics or political philosophy in which it is proposed that the core social, political, economic and environmental realities of the world today should be addressed at all levels—by individuals, civil society organizations, communities and nation states—through a global lens. It refers to a broad, culturally- and environmentally-inclusive worldview that accepts the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. Political, geographic borders become irrelevant and solutions to today's challenges are seen to be beyond the narrow vision of national interests. Proponents of this philosophy often point to Diogenes of Sinope (c. 412 B.C.) as an example, given his reported declaration that "I am a citizen of the world (kosmopolitês)" in response to a question about his place of origin.[11]


Geography, sovereignty, and citizenship[edit]

At the same time that globalization is reducing the importance of nation-states,[12] the idea of global citizenship may require a redefinition of ties between civic engagement and geography. Face-to-face town hall meetings seem increasingly supplanted by electronic "town halls" not limited by space and time. Absentee ballots opened the way for expatriates to vote while living in another country; the Internet may carry this several steps further. Another interpretation given by several scholars of the changing configurations of citizenship due to globalization is the possibility that citizenship becomes a changed institution; even if situated within territorial boundaries that are national, if the meaning of the national itself has changed, then the meaning of being a citizen of that nation changes.[13]

Poet-Diplomat Abhay K believes that the technological advancements made by the mankind in the fields of transport and telecommunications during the 20th century and in the first decade of the 21st century have turned the whole planet into an interdependent economic, political and communication community, particularly the Internet and the mobile phones have played key role in bringing humans into more continuous interconnected communication which have created the conditions for global democracy and global citizenship, just as the Gutenberg press in 1439 led to birth of Nation states and national citizenship.[14]

Tension among local, national, and global forces[edit]

An interesting feature of globalization is that, while the world is being internationalized, it’s also being localized at the same time.[15] The world shrinks as the local community (village, town, city) takes on greater and greater importance. This is reflected in the term glocalization, a portmanteau of the words "global" and "local". Mosco (1999) noted this feature and saw the growing importance of technopoles.[16] If this trend is true, it seems global citizens may be the glue that holds these separate entities together. Put another way, global citizens are people who can travel within these various boundaries and somehow still make sense of the world through a global lens.

Human rights[edit]

The lack of a universally recognized world body can put the initiative upon global citizens themselves to create rights and obligations. Rights and obligations as they arose at the formation of nation-states (e.g. the right to vote and obligation to serve in time of war) are being expanded. Thus, new concepts that accord certain “human rights” which arose in the 20th century are increasingly being universalized across nations and governments. This is the result of many factors, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948, the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust and growing sentiments towards legitimizing marginalized peoples (e.g., pre-industrialized peoples found in the jungles of Brazil and Borneo). Couple this with growing awareness of our impact on the environment, and there is the rising feeling that citizen rights may extend to include the right to dignity and self-determination. If national citizenship does not foster these new rights, then global citizenship may seem more accessible.

One cannot overestimate the importance of human rights discourse in shaping public opinion. What are the rights and obligations of human beings trapped in conflicts? Or, incarcerated as part of ethnic cleansing? Equally striking, are the pre-industrialized tribes newly discovered by scientists living in the depths of dense jungle? These rights can be equated with the rise of global citizenship as normative associations, indicating a national citizenship model that is more closed and a global citizenship one that is more flexible and inclusive.[17] If true, this places a strain in the relationship between national and global citizenship.

UN General Assembly[edit]

On December 10, 1948, the UN General Assembly Adopted Resolution 217A (III), also known as "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights."[18]

Article 1 states that "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." [19]

Article 2 states that "Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty."[20]

Article 13(2) states that "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." [21]

As evidence in today's modern world, events such as the Trial of Saddam Hussein have proven what British jurist A. V. Dicey said in 1885, when he popularized the phrase "rule of law" in 1885.[22] Dicey emphasized three aspects of the rule of law :[23]

  1. No one can be punished or made to suffer except for a breach of law proved in an ordinary court.
  2. No one is above the law and everyone is equal before the law regardless of social, economic, or political status.
  3. The rule of law includes the results of judicial decisions determining the rights of private persons.

US Declaration of Independence[edit]

The opening of the United States Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson in 1776, states as follows:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;[24]

"Global citizenship in the United States" was a term was used by U.S. President Barack Obama in 2008 in a speech in Berlin.[25]

Support for global government[edit]

In contrast to questioning definitions, a counter-criticism can be found on the World Alliance of YMCA's website. An online article in YMYCA World emphasizes the importance of fostering global citizenship and global justice, and states, "Global citizenship might sound like a vague concept for academics but in fact it’s a very practical way of looking at the world which anyone, if given the opportunity, can relate to."[26] The author acknowledges the positive and negative outlooks towards globalization, and states, "In the context of globalisation, thinking and acting as global citizens is immensely important and can bring real benefits, as the YMCA experience shows."[26]

Fostering global citizenship[edit]

Author Shashi Tharoor feels that an Earth Anthem sung by people across the world can inspire planetary consciousness and global citizenship among people.[27]


Not all interpretations of global citizenship are positive. For example, Parekh advocates what he calls globally oriented citizenship, and states, "If global citizenship means being a citizen of the world, it is neither practicable nor desirable."[28] He argues that global citizenship, defined as an actual membership of a type of worldwide government system, is impractical and dislocated from one's immediate community.[28] He also notes that such a world state would inevitably be "remote, bureaucratic, oppressive, and culturally bland."[28]

Parekh presents his alternate option with the statement: "Since the conditions of life of our fellow human beings in distant parts of the world should be a matter of deep moral and political concern to us, our citizenship has an inescapable global dimension, and we should aim to become what I might call a globally oriented citizen."[28] Parekh's concept of globally oriented citizenship consists of identifying with and strengthening ties towards one's political regional community (whether in its current state or an improved, revised form), while recognizing and acting upon obligations towards others in the rest of the world.[28]

Is "global citizenship" a buzzword?[edit]

In another example, Michael Byers, a professor in Political Science at the University of British Columbia, questions the assumption that there is one definition of global citizenship, and unpacks aspects of potential definitions. In the introduction to his public lecture, the UBC Internalization website states, "'Global citizenship' remains undefined. What, if anything, does it really mean? Is global citizenship just the latest buzzword?"[29] Byers notes the existence of stateless persons, whom he remarks ought to be the primary candidates for global citizenship, yet continue to live without access to basic freedoms and citizenship rights.[29]

Byers does not oppose the concept of global citizenship, however he criticizes potential implications of the term depending on one's definition of it, such as ones that provide support for the "ruthlessly capitalist economic system that now dominates the planet."[29] Byers states that global citizenship is a "powerful term"[29] because "people that invoke it do so to provoke and justify action,"[29] and encourages the attendees of his lecture to re-appropriate it in order for its meaning to have a positive purpose, based on idealistic values.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Israel, Ronald C. (Spring|Summer 2012). "What Does it Mean to be a Global Citizen?" Kosmos.
  2. ^ "Priority #3: Foster Global Citizenship." Global Education First Initiative, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
  3. ^ Australian Government (2008). Global Perspectives: A framework for global education in Australian schools. Carlton South Victoria, Australia: Curriculum Corporation. ISBN 978 1 74200 075 6
  4. ^ Jim Luce (June 1, 2010). "Euro-American Women' s Council Global Forum and Awards Set For Athens in July". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010-06-16. "Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou is a Member of the Hellenic Parliament. She is also on the Executive Global Board of the EAWC. Orphans International Worldwide (OIWW) awarded her its Global Citizenship Award for Leadership in Helping Humanity in New York in February." 
  5. ^ a b Mundy, K., et al. (eds). Comparative and International Education. New York: Economic Policy Institute and Teachers College. ISBN 978-0807748817
  6. ^ Osler, Audrey and Hugh Starkey (2010). Teachers and Human Rights Education. London:Trentham Books. ISBN 978-1858563848
  7. ^ Global Education Magazine (2012). The Humanist Quantum Interference: Towards the “Homo Conscienciatus". Javier Collado Ruano, October 17th: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. ISSN 2255-033X
  8. ^ NGO Educar para Vivir (2012)
  9. ^ O’Sullivan, M. (2008). "You can’t criticize what you don’t understand: Teachers as social change agents in neo liberal times." Pp. 113-126 in O’Sullivan, Michael & K. Pashby (eds.) Citizenship in the era of globalization: Canadian perspectives. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.
  10. ^ Pike, G. & D. Selby (2000). In the Global Classroom 2. Toronto: Pippin.
  11. ^ Diogenes Laertius, "The Lives of Eminent Philosophers", Book VI, Chapter 2, line 63.
  12. ^ Scholte, Jan-Aart (2005). "Chapter 6: Globalization and Governance". Globalization: A Critical Introduction. Palgrave. 
  13. ^ Sassen, Saskia (2003). Towards post-national and denationalized citizenship. New York: Sage. p. 286. 
  14. ^ Birth of Global Democracy The Times of India, 21 January 2011
  15. ^ Roudometof, Victor (2005). "Translationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and Glocalization". Current Sociology 53 (1): 113–135. 
  16. ^ Joel Stratte-McClure (October 2, 2000). "A French Exception to the Science Park Rule". Time EUROPE Magazine. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  17. ^ Alan C. Cairns, John C. Courtney, Peter MacKinnon, Hans J. Michelmann, David E. Smith (1999). "Citizenship, Diversity, and Pluralism: Canadian and Comparative Perspectives". McGill-Queen's University Press. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  18. ^ "History of the Document." U.N.: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  19. ^ "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1". 
  20. ^ "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 2". 
  21. ^ "Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13(2)". 
  22. ^ Dicey, Albert. (1885). An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution.
  23. ^ Palekar, S.A. (2008). Comparative Politics and Government. (Pp.64-65), New Dehli: PHI Learning, Pvt. Lmt..ISBN 978-8120333352
  24. ^ s:United States Declaration of Independence
  25. ^ Mike Allen (Jul 24, 2008). "Obama Promises To 'remake The World'". CBS News. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  26. ^ a b Aris June 2007
  27. ^ Indian diplomat pens anthem for earth The New Indian Express 5 June 2013
  28. ^ a b c d e Parekh, B. (2003). "Cosmopolitanism and Global Citizenship", Review of International Studies 29: 3-17.
  29. ^ a b c d e f Byers, Michael (2005), The Meanings of Global Citizenship, UBC Global Citizenship Speaker Series, retrieved 2009-10-28 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bauman, Zygmunt, Intimations of Postmodernity (1992: Routledge, London)
  • Bellamy, Richard, “Citizenship beyond the nation state: the case of Europe,” from Political Theory in Transition, edited by Noël O’Sullivan (2000: Routledge, London)
  • Bennett, W. Lance, News: the Politics of Illusion (1996: Longman, New York)
  • Bennett, W. Lance, “Consumerism and Global Citizenship: Lifestyle Politics, Permanent Campaigns, and International Regimes of Democratic Accountability.” Unpublished paper presented at the International Seminar on Political Consumerism, Stockholm University, May 30, 2001.
  • Best, Steven & Kellner, Douglas, The Postmodern Turn (1997: Guilford Press, New York)
  • Cabrera, Luis, The Practice of Global Citizenship (2010: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge)
  • Clarke, Paul Berry, Deep Citizenship ( 1996: Pluto Press, London)
  • Eriksen, Erik & Weigård, Jarle, “The End of Citizenship: New Roles Challenging the Political Order” in The Demands of CitizenshipI, edited by Catriona McKinnon & Iain Hampsher-Monk (2000: Continuum, London)
  • Franck, Thomas M., The Empowered Self: Law and Society in the Age of Individualism (1999: Oxford University Press, Oxford)
  • Henderson, Hazel, “Transnational Corporations and Global Citizenship,” American Behavioral Scientist, 43(8), May 2000, 1231-1261.
  • Iyer, Pico, The Global Soul (2000: Alfred A. Knopf, New York).
  • Jacobson, David, Rights across Borders: Immigration and the Decline of Citizenship (1996: Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore)
  • Lie, Rico & Servaes, Jan, “Globalization: consumption and identity – towards researching nodal points,” in The New Communications Landscape, edited by Georgette Wang, Jan Servaes and Anura Goonasekera (2000: Routledge, London)
  • Kaspersen, Lars Bo, “State and Citizenship Under Transformation in Western Europe” in Public Rights, Public Rules: Constituting Citizens in the World Polity and National Policy, edited by Connie L. McNeely (1998: Garland, New York)
  • Kennedy, John F., Profiles in Courage (1956: Harper & Brothers, New York)
  • Preston, P.W., Political/Cultural Identity: Citizens and Nations in a Global Era (1997: Sage, London)
  • Scammell, Margarett, “Internet and civic engagement: Age of the citizen-consumer” found at
  • Steenbergen, Bart van, "The Condition of Citizenship" in The Condition of Citizenship, edited by Bart van Steenbergen (1994: Sage Publications, London)
  • Turner, Bryan D., "Postmodern Culture/Modern Citizens" in The Condition of Citizenship, edited by Bart van Steenbergen (1994: Sage Publications, London)
  • Weale, Albert, “Citizenship Beyond Borders” in The Frontiers of Citizenship, edited by Ursula Vogel & Michael Moran (1991: St. Martin’s Press, New York)

External links[edit]