Advancing Global Citizenship

Collection of people portraits placed as world map shape, photo by  Joe-L /Adobe Stock

Joe-L /Adobe Stock

Efforts have grown in recent years among many advanced economies to dial back globalization, slow the pace of change, build walls, erect tariff barriers, reject regional or global standards, and scale back foreign commitments. Some of these steps may be justified as efforts to maintain social cohesion in the face of rapid and unsettling change. But measures to slow globalization come at costs that need to be recognized and weighed when evaluating such steps. This requires a wider understanding of the benefits as well as the burdens that derive from trade, immigration, foreign investment, technological innovation, and collective security arrangements.

One response to this challenge has been promotion of global citizenship. This concept has been endorsed both by UNESCO and the World Economic Forum, an entity best known for its annual meeting of business and government representatives in Davos Switzerland. One definition, offered by the British humanitarian organization Oxfam, describes a global citizen as one who:

  • is aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen
  • respects and values diversity
  • has an understanding of how the world works
  • is outraged by social injustice
  • participates in the community at a range of levels, from the local to the global
  • is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place, and
  • takes responsibility for their actions.

For this study, researchers examined the applicability of this concept in an era of increased anti-globalism. They surveyed the benefits and costs of globalization and traced the evolution of American opinion toward its major manifestations—including trade, immigration, and other forms of international engagment. They also explored the relationship between global and national citizenship. Finally, they suggest how global citizenship can best be conceived and advanced in the American context.