Global Citizenship

Section 2: What does it mean to be a Global Citizen?


In this section we aim to:

  • highlight common aspects people refer to when talking about a 'global citizen'
  • highlight that being a global citizen asks us to challenge our own preconceived ideas about the world

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Oxfam's definition of being a global citizen

Read the following seven elements that OXFAM think constitute a global citizen. Which elements do you think are most and least important? Please rank them 1-7 in order of how much you agree with them (1 = agree most, 7 = agree least):

  Oxfam suggest that a global citizen is someone who:
1. is aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen
2. respects and values diversity
3. has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially, culturally, technologically and environmentally
4. is outraged by social injustice
5. participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from local to global
6. is willing to act to make the world a more sustainable place
7. takes responsibility for their action

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Visualising a global citizen

Are there particular attributes you think people might need to function effectively in a global society?

Write your ideas as to what an ideal global citizen would be like below. It might help you to think about this under the following headings:

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Visualising a global citizen

Here is a list of the Key Elements for responsible Global Citizenship that Oxfam highlight in their booklet Teaching Controversial Issues (2006).

Against each attribute, write V, S or K, according to whether you think it relates best to:

  • V = Value and Attitude
  • S = Skill
  • K = Knowledge and Understanding
Respect for people and things Social justice and equity Commitment to social justice and equity
Ability to argue effectively Ability to challenge injustice and inequalities Value and respect for diversity
Concern for the environment and commitment to sustainable development Belief that people can make a difference Diversity
Sense of identity and self esteem Globalisation and interdependence Peace and conflict
Critical thinking Sustainable development Empathy
Co-operation and conflict resolution

In your printout you can see how Oxfam categorise the elements.

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How much do you think people should engage with global issues?

Here are some statements. How much do you agree or disagree with each of them? For each statement, answer by using the scale of 1 - 5 (1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neutral, 4 = disagree, 5 = strongly disagree).

There is lots of diversity here. We don't need to learn about what's happening in different parts of the world
The only thing we can do about world poverty is give money to charity
In order to make choices about our lives we need to know more about global issues
If you are a global citizen it just means you live in the world
It is our responsibility to help others in a less fortunate position
It is important to think about how the things we do in our own communities affect people in communities further away
Everyone in the world is entitled to a good standard of living
We should share what we know with other people from other parts of the world
We need to keep learning about the issues affecting the world. The best way to do this is reading newspapers

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Summary of Section Two

As we have seen, being a global citizen means a multitude of things to different people. Our understandings are often influenced by our current experience and knowledge. Also, how we as individuals are able to act is highly dependent on our personal circumstances.

A useful definition, that allows for this diversity of circumstance and experience states, "A global citizen is constituted by their engaged commitment and awareness of global challenges. Informal and lifelong learning plays a vital role in raising awareness and developing the necessary (social and personal) skills of global citizens." (2011, Susa R. and Vodopivec B., National Identity in the Context of Global Citizenship)

That's the end of this section!

Now submit your answers to get a printout of this section and suggestions for further reading. You can move on to the next section straight away, or come back to it at a more convenient time.