What is global citizenship and what is its place in education?

What is global citizenship and what is its place in education?

Global citizenship is loosely defined as “recognising theinterconnectedness of life, respecting cultural diversity and human rights,advocating global social justice, empathising with suffering people around theworld, seeing the world as others see it and feeling a sense of moralresponsibility for planet Earth.” In effect, rather than seeing oneself as acitizen of a single country or place, a global citizen sees their identity astranscending borders of politics and geography, operating as a member ofhumanity and not just a single nationality.

While global citizenship is not limited to those studying auniversity degree, there is no doubting its prevalence in the higher educationsector. Universities including Deakin, Bond and La Trobe all have programs andinitiatives promoting global citizenship. These programs vary in scope but canfeature overseas study and volunteering to give the concept real-world context.As technology continues to break down geographical barriers, graduates must beincreasingly prepared to engage with people from different cultures and adaptto global environments in the workforce.

Soft skills have always been important, and they willcontinue to increase in demand over the next decade. The Foundation for YoungAustralians’ The New Work Smarts report foundthat the demand for enterprise skills would rise dramatically by 2030,including problem solving (100 per cent), critical thinking (41 per cent) andcommunication (17 per cent). However, are the definitions of strong problemsolving or critical thinking skills the same around the world? Global citizenswill be equipped with these skills and understand how they differ from countryto country, culture to culture.

Author and educator Margaret Hepworth is one Australianleading the charge in the global citizen sphere. After penning The Gandhi Experiment in 2016, whichaddresses global citizenship, conflict resolution and non-violence, she hascontinued to spread the message of peacebuilding through learning, runningworkshops and presentations across India, Pakistan and Indonesia. While Margaret’score message is directed at informing teenagers, it is applicable to people ofall ages and encourages the kind of rigorous debate that universities arerenowned for fostering.

Being a global citizen might mean different things to differentpeople, but the overarching principles of tolerance, respect and responsibilityshould be furthered and prospered at every opportunity, inside of the classroomand out. 

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