What It Means to be a Global Citizen in the 21st Century PDF Print E-mail
Univetica Staff

Global citizenship is a 21st-century approach to living in which principles of global responsibility and accountability are applied to everyday, local actions. Global citizenship is often over-simplified to mean progressive politics or extensive world travel.

However, as the world grows more and more interconnected the march of economic progress creates serious collateral damage in the form of damaged natural ecosystems, cultural losses, eroded human rights, and ever-expanding disparities between rich and poor. Global citizenship is merely a way of actively addressing these problems on an individual basis.

Many thinkers and writers have put forth their own ideas of what it means to be a global citizen in the 21st century. There may be disagreements as to the particulars, but the overall philosophy has several consistent points. Across the board, global citizens:


  1. Respect fellow humans, regardless of race, gender, age, religion, or political views.
  2. Appreciate diversity and the benefits it can offer any advanced society.
  3. View no single society or culture as inherently superior to any other.
  4. Cherish the natural world and respect the rights of all living things.
  5. Practice and encourage sustainable patterns of consumption and production.
  6. Work to eradicate poverty and inequality in all their forms.
  7. Support economic institutions that act transparently and in the public good.
  8. Strive to resolve conflicts without the use of violence.
  9. Feel responsibility to help solve pressing global challenges in whatever way they can
  10. Think globally, act locally


The challenges of global citizenship

Although growing numbers of people are interested in making a positive impact, global citizenry still lives in the abstract in many circles. For example, while most people would say that they support human rights and environmental protection, they seem to view activists for these causes with a mix of scorn and indifference. This view stems from the public’s general lack of understanding of global issues and the role of activists in addressing them. Global citizenry is not about protest; although sometimes protest is necessary. Nor does it require extensive travel. Global citizenry requires awareness and action consistent with a broad understanding of humanity, the planet, and the impact of our decisions on both.

Attitudes take time to change, but change does come. It wasn't long ago that racism, sexism, and xenophobia were the norm in countries that are now considered progressive. The direction of history appears to be in favor of greater empathy and greater social consciousness. The dream of a fairer and more sustainable planet will be realized when we enact change in our everyday lives.

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