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Global Citizenship

Global Citizenship: What are We Talking about and Why Does it Matter?

Written by Russ Gadzhiev, PhD


“As a citizen of the world, I stand only with Truth and my conscience is my only leader. This is the only way to peace and justice on earth. To always do the right thing, be the right person, and stand with whoever is right always and forever.” – Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem


“We have to reach beyond ourselves, we have to be a light to the world” – Joe Biden


The epigraphs in this article are from being accidental. They summarize perfectly what we are going to talk about here. And we are going to talk about something especially important – global citizenship.


A global citizen is a person who has a solid awareness and good understanding of the world around them. They also clearly understand their own place in this world. They are proactive when it comes to helping their community and collaborating with others in an effort to make our planet a better place to live. 

So as educators we should strive to impart values of global citizenship to our students. But here a reasonable question may arise – why? What are the benefits of being a global citizen? Past generations were not taught this concept before, and they are doing well now – in their adult lives.

What are the benefits of global citizenship?

The importance of global citizenship has become more apparent over the last decades. The world has become increasingly interdependent and interconnected. It is more complicated and complex than it was before and the knowledge that past generations were acquiring at school is no longer enough. 

So, what are the exact benefits of global citizenship? As a global citizen, you will be able to form your own understanding of world events. You will not be easily misled by disinformation (which is quite common these days). 

As a global citizen, you will also understand better what values to abide by and which values are important to you. Although you have never thought about values before, it is impossible to imagine anybody living without any. 

You will able be able to stand up to global injustice, ignorance, and intolerance. You will be more passionate about actively participating in the local, national and global initiatives devoted to improving the world around us. 

You will be more eloquent when it comes to expressing your views and ideas. You will be able to make an argument and defend your argument in favour of any worthy cause. Finally, all these capabilities and competencies will give you something that people lacking global citizenship do not – the power to influence the world around you.




Responsibilities of any global citizen


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  – American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead


While global citizenship is something that is making your life more interesting and exciting, every global citizen should be aware of their potential responsibilities. Being a global citizen is about improving the world around us – so these responsibilities are about that.

So as a global citizen you should be able and strive to:


1.    understand well your own perspective on things and the perspectives of other people around you when it comes to global issues

2.     respect cultural diversity and do everything possible that it is respected by others

3.    build relations with people from other countries, break stereotypes and contribute to mutual understanding between people from different countries

4.    understand how people from different countries are interconnected and interdependent 

5.    understand the main global issues and what can be done about them

6.    understand the importance of advocating for greater international cooperation and implementation of international agreements, conventions, and other important regulations (aimed at making out planet a better place for a living).




How can we teach our students to be global citizens?


As we continue our work as activists and advocates, it’s important to remember that this work can only be completed with good motivation and hope. To reference Socrates, we are not citizens of just our hometowns or nations, “but of the world.” – Priscilla McCelvey


Now, if you are an educator, you must be thinking – yes, global citizenship is important, and I totally agree with that. But how do I teach this, broad, concept to my students? Is there a textbook? Or is there a list of subjects that needs to be taught for my student to develop their global citizenship skills? The truth is that the answer is not that simple. In this section, we are going to look at what teachers can do to help their students acquire global citizenship. 


 Empower your students and give them a little more freedom. 

So as a teacher you are used to teaching classes on diverse cultures, telling them about different counties and their customs. Next time, give your students a chance to teach one another in small groups. Or get them to prepare a small presentation about a piece of news and communicate that to their group members. 


Encourage students to step outside the classroom and explore the around them.

You can actively help them. For example, you can organize an excursion to a museum, theatre, or concert hall. If, for some reason, you are not able to organize such a field trip, then remember that YouTube is a trove of valuable material. By using YouTube, you can take your students to any part of the world, without making them go anywhere. 


Do not forget about the power of music to teach and inspire.

Yes, although it may sound a little strange, but music and dance are one of the best ways of cultural immersion. By introducing our students to several types of music and different dances we actively engage students in other cultures. So, for example, every week you can organize a “music day.” On that day you can play music from distinct parts of the world and even sing together. 




Divide your classes into specific parts.

Each part will be devoted to a specific aspect of the world around us. For example, lesson one can be devoted to food. You can start teaching such a class by asking students what types of food they prefer. Then you can encourage them to think about what types of food are good for their health and which should be avoided. Then talk to them about dishes from different countries and for what they are famous. 

Then you can also talk about holidays. Again, you can start your class by asking some general and introductory questions. For example, what do you like to do on holidays? Where do you like to go on holiday? Then steer the discussion in the direction of their travel experiences. Ask them which countries they had visited, what they liked about them, and what things surprised them and made them think about cultural differences. 

Talk about eco-tourism and its importance for the world and the environment. So, you now got the idea. Choose any aspect relating to global citizenship and teach it bit by bit. Make sure that such classes are student-centred – that they involve a lot of communication between students. Your role should be really reduced to a person who facilitates discussions rather than leads them. But of course, transitioning to such a “free-flow” approach may take you some time too.

We are living in an extremely globalized world. As a result of this, the concept of global citizenship is now attracting a lot of attention and is becoming more popular. But despite its growing popularity, many people, unfortunately, still have a very vague idea of what this concept is about and what it entails. As educators, we need to do our best to make sure that our students are growing to become global citizens for the sake of their future success and the prosperity of our planet. We also need to make sure that we open our minds to this concept as well. 


In this article, we have tried to provide some basic information on what global citizenship means, why it is important, and in what ways it can benefit our students. To find out more information about global citizenship, please look at our other articles on our blog.




Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese.

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Chris is from Devon, in the south of England. He has been teaching English as a foreign language for over six years and has taught in China, the UK, Hungary and Spain. He has a background in Music and studied Composition at the RSAMD in Glasgow, Trinity Laban in London and at the University of York. After finishing his master’s at York, he travelled to China to teach and fell in love with it. He has been teaching ever since.

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