Global Citizenship

Section 3: Developing a Critical Awareness

Global Citizenship - meanings explored

Being a global citizen is not necessarily to do with a list of personal qualities. It is more to do with 'ways of thinking and knowing' and 'ways of engaging and relating' with the world we live in and reflecting on our place within that world. (Belgeonne 2009:11, Teaching the Global Dimension, A Handbook for Teacher Education)

Ways of thinking and knowing
This involves making local and global connections and appreciating a diverse range of perspectives.

Ways of engaging and relating
This involves considering how as global citizens we choose to interact with others and the decisions we make concerning our actions in local, national and international communities.


In this section we aim to explore world issues, whether they be economic, social, political or environmental, with a critical eye and where we challenge our own and others perspectives.

Begin the enquiry next

Developing a critical perspective

Have a look at this film clip and as you do think about the following questions

  • What are the key issues raised in the film?
  • Who do you think this film is made for?
  • Why do you think the film was made?

Type your response in the box below:

Being a global citizen really starts with looking at our own lives and thinking about why we have developed the viewpoints we have. This doesn't mean we don't look outwards to others too but that we do this with a critical eye and try to understand the reality of the situation. Being a global citizen requires us to be aware of bias (our own and others) and to ask challenging questions to help reveal the truth about global issues.

Click here to see some of the questions other people asked:

Why do richer countries only seem to portray countries that are poorer as being in need of help and not share their strengths?

What can people realistically do to help solve the problem of poverty and hunger?

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Developing a critical perspective

Some of the dangers of global citizenship is that because the word 'global' is used people can associate it with 'other' people, with differences between people and this can create more divides and separate people into 'them' and 'us'. The idea of the interconnection between people and between local and global communities is a very important element of global citizenship. Now watch this film and try to think about the viewpoints it represents in comparison to the first film:

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Summary of Section Three

When exploring global challenges and issues it is important for us to guard against possible pitfalls that can lead to the reinforcing of stereotypes and the reduction of opportunities for critical analysis. These potential pitfalls, highlighted in 'Enabling Global Learning (2009)', can be summarised as;

  • Doing good… that avoids thinking
    There is often a desire to address global issues through 'fundraising' style activities. There is definitely a place for these but used without opportunities to engage with the root reasons of a problem can lead to a simplified analysis of a situation, a sense of superiority and the sense that money solves problems. It can but doesn't always.
  • Manipulative activity leading to 'right answers'
    We are keen to follow prescribed 'good' approaches such as recycling and buying fairtrade. These approaches are very important but can lead to a complacency that reduces the opportunities for questioning. A series of prescribed activities without debate and critique can lead to people oversimplifying complex issues.
  • Failing to acknowledge our own perceptions and bias
    Understanding that others may respond differently to situations and that there may be reasons why we have responded in the way that we have.
  • Global is about somewhere else
    There is a general and quite common perception that global means elsewhere. However, global citizenship is aiming to highlight the global society we live in and the interconnections between people and communities across the globe. It expects us to challenge the separate 'here and there' outlook.
  • It's all doom and gloom
    It is sometimes easy for people to overemphasize the negative issues effecting the world - wars, economic crisis, floods, climate change etc. This is partly due to how parts of the world are often represented in the media and this can lead to a sense of helplessness and burden. It is true that there are some very pressing issues affecting our world today that need attention but equally important to emphasise are the ways of organising and working together that can support change for the better.
  • (from Enabling Global learning through the KS3 Curriculum(2009), TIDE)

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