Global Citizenship – What Are We Talking About and Why Does It Matter?

Editor’s note: This guest entry was written by Madeleine F. Green, a Senior Fellow at NAFSA and the International Association of Universities. It was originally published in NAFSA’s newish Trends & Insights series of short online article that are “designed to highlight social, economic, political and higher education system trends affecting international higher education.” Our thanks to Madeleine and NAFSA for permission to post her fascinating entry here (which is also available as a PDF via this link). Kris Olds

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During the past decade higher education’s interest in internationalization has intensified, and the concept of civic education or engagement has broadened from a national focus to a more global one, thus expanding the concept that civic responsibility extends beyond national borders.

As Schattle (2009) points out, the concept of global citizenship is not a new one; it can be traced back to ancient Greece. But the concept and the term seem to have new currency and are now widely used in higher education. Many institutions cite global citizenship in their mission statements and/or as an outcome of liberal education and internationalization efforts. Many have “centers for global citizenship” or programs with this label.

Additionally, national and international organizations and networks have devoted themselves to helping institutions promote global citizenship, although they do not necessarily use that term. For example, the Association of American Colleges and Universities sponsors a series of programs concerned with civic learning, a broad concept that includes several goals for undergraduate education: strengthening U.S. democracy, preparing globally responsible citizenry, developing personal and social responsibility, and promoting global learning and diversity. The Salzburg Seminar’s International Study Program provides week-long workshops for faculty to consider the concepts of global citizenship and their integration into undergraduate education. It also provides college students with programs on global issues. The Talloires Network is an international alliance formed in 2005 that includes 202 institutions in 58 countries “devoted to strengthening the civic roles and social responsibilities of higher education.” The Talloires declaration refers specifically to “preparing students to contribute positively to local, national, and global communities.” Founded in 1985, the oldest of these networks, Campus Compact, retains its predominant, but not exclusive, focus on the United States.

Defining Global Citizenship

A foray into the literature or a look at the many ways colleges and universities talk about global citizenship reveals how broad a concept it is and how different the emphasis can be depending on who uses the term. This essay can only outline a few important elements of global citizenship, but a brief overview of the many meanings should help institutions formulate or clarify their own definition of it, identify those elements that are central to their educational vision, and add other dimensions. The following are among the most salient features of global citizenship (this section draws from a variety of sources but primarily relies on Schattle (2007)).

Global citizenship as a choice and a way of thinking. National citizenship is an accident of birth; global citizenship is different. It is a voluntary association with a concept that signifies “ways of thinking and living within multiple cross-cutting communities—cities, regions, states, nations, and international collectives…” (Schattle 2007, 9). People come to consider themselves as global citizens through different formative life experiences and have different interpretations of what it means to them. The practice of global citizenship is, for many, exercised primarily at home, through engagement in global issues or with different cultures in a local setting. For others, global citizenship means firsthand experience with different countries, peoples, and cultures. For most, there exists a connection between the global and the local. Whatever an individual’s particular “take” on global citizenship may be, that person makes a choice in whether or how to practice it.

Global citizenship as self-awareness and awareness of others. As one international educator put it, it is difficult to teach intercultural understanding to students who are unaware they, too, live in a culture that colors their perceptions. Thus, awareness of the world around each student begins with self-awareness. Self-awareness also enables students to identify with the universalities of the human experience, thus increasing their identification with fellow human beings and their sense of responsibility toward them.

Global citizenship as they practice cultural empathy. Cultural empathy or intercultural competence is commonly articulated as a goal of global education, and there is significant literature on these topics. Intercultural competence occupies a central position in higher education’s thinking about global citizenship and is seen as an important skill in the workplace. There are more than 30 instruments or inventories to assess intercultural competence. Cultural empathy helps people see questions from multiple perspectives and move deftly among cultures—sometimes navigating their own multiple cultural identities, sometimes moving out to experience unfamiliar cultures.

Global citizenship as the cultivation of principled decisionmaking. Global citizenship entails an awareness of the interdependence of individuals and systems and a sense of responsibility that follows from it. Navigating “the treacherous waters of our epic interdependence (Altinay 2010, 4) requires a set of guiding principles that will shape ethical and fair responses. Although the goal of undergraduate education should not be to impose a “correct” set of answers, critical thinking, cultural empathy, and ethical systems and choices are an essential foundation to principled decisionmaking.

Global citizenship as participation in the social and political life of one’s community. There are many different types of communities, from the local to the global, from religious to political groups. Global citizens feel a connection to their communities (however they define them) and translate that sense of connection into participation. Participation can take the form of making responsible personal choices (such as limiting fossil fuel consumption), voting, volunteering, advocacy, and political activism. The issues may include the environment, poverty, trade, health, and human rights. Participation is the action dimension of global citizenship.

Why Does Global Citizenship Matter?

The preceding list could be much longer and more detailed; global citizenship covers a lot of ground. Thus, it is useful to consider the term global citizenship as shorthand for the habits of mind and complex learning associated with global education. The concept is useful and important in several respects.

First, a focus on global citizenship puts the spotlight on why internationalization is central to a quality education and emphasizes that internationalization is a means, not an end. Serious consideration of the goals of internationalization makes student learning the key concern rather than counting inputs.

Second, the benefits of encouraging students to consider their responsibilities to their communities and to the world redound to them, institutions, and society. As Altinay (2010, 1) put it, “a university education which does not provide effective tools and forums for students to think through their responsibilities and rights as one of the several billions on planet Earth, and along the way develop their moral compass, would be a failure.” Strengthening institutional commitment to serving society enriches the institution, affirms its relevance and contributions to society, and benefits communities (however expansive the definition) and the lives of their members.

Third, the concept of global citizenship creates conceptual and practical connections rather than cleavages. The commonalities between what happens at home and “over there” become visible. The characteristics that human beings share are balanced against the differences that are so conspicuous. On a practical level, global citizenship provides a concept that can create bridges between the work of internationalization and multicultural education. Although these efforts have different histories and trajectories, they also share important goals of cultural empathy and intercultural competence (Olson et al. 2007).

No concept or term is trouble-free; no idea goes uncontested by some faculty member or group. For better or for worse, global citizenship will undoubtedly provoke disagreements that reflect larger academic and philosophical debates. There is plenty of skepticism about global citizenship. Some object to any concept that suggests a diminished role for the nation and allegiance to it or the ascendancy of global governance systems. The idea of developing students’ moral compasses can raise questions about whose values and morals and how institutions undertake this delicate task. Some students will choose not to accept responsibility for the fate of others far away, or may see inequality as an irremediable fact of life. Some faculty will stand by the efficacy and wisdom of the market; others will see redressing inequality as the key issue for the future of humankind. And so on.

Such debates, sometimes civil or acrimonious, are, for better or worse, the stuff of academe. Implementing new ideas—even if they have been around for a very long time as in the case of global citizenship—can be slow and painful. However, if colleges and universities can produce graduates with the knowledge and the disposition to be global citizens, the world would certainly be a better place.

Madeleine F. Green


Box 1 — Conceptual Divides

What was once simply called “international education” is now a field awash with varied terminology, different conceptual frameworks, goals, and underlying assumptions.*

Although “internationalization” is widely used, many use globalization—with all its different definitions and connotations— in its stead. Rather than take on the job of sorting out the terminology, let me point out two significant conceptual divides in the conversation. Both center on the purpose of internationalization.

In the first divide, we see one face of internationalization as referring to a series of activities closely associated with institutional prestige, profile, and revenue. These activities are generally quantifiable, lend themselves to institutional comparisons and benchmarking, and provide metrics for internationalization performance that resonate with trustees and presidents. Examples include hosting international students, sending students abroad, developing international agreements, and delivering programs abroad.

The other face of internationalization—student learning— is much more difficult to capture and assess, but it provides an important answer to the “so what?” question. Why does internationalization matter? What impact do internationalization activities have on student learning? How do they contribute to preparing students to live and work in a globalized and culturally diverse world?

Different terms with overlapping meanings are used to describe the student learning dimension of internationalization. Global learning, global education, and global competence are familiar terms; they, too, are often used synonymously. The global in all three terms often includes the concepts of international (between and among nations), global (transcending national borders), and intercultural (referring often to cultural differences at home and around the world).

Also prevalent in the student learning discussion is another cluster of terms that focus specifically on deepening students’ understanding of global issues and interdependence, and encouraging them to engage socially and politically to address societal issues. These terms include global citizenship, world citizenship (Nussbaum 1997), civic learning, civic engagement, and global civics (Altinay 2010). These terms, too, share several key concepts, and are often used interchangeably.

The second divide focuses on the divergent, but not incompatible goals of workforce development (developing workers to compete in the global marketplace) or as a means of social development (developing globally competent citizens.) Global competitiveness is primarily associated with mastery of math, science, technology, and occasionally language competence, whereas “global competence” (a broad term, to be sure), puts greater emphasis on intercultural understanding and knowledge of global systems and issues, culture, and language.

As the field grows increasingly complex and the instrumental goals of internationalization become more prominent, it is important that campus discussions and planning efforts sort out their language, underlying concepts, and implied or explicit values. Otherwise, people run the risk of talking past each other and developing strategies that may not match their goals.


*It is important for U.S. readers to note that the goals of and assumptions about internationalization vary widely around the world. The Third Global Survey of Internationalization conducted by the International Association of Universities found that there are divergent views among institutions in different regions of the risks and benefits of internationalizations. Based on their findings, IAU has launched an initiative to take a fresh look at internationalization from a global perspective.

References

Altinay, Hakan. “The Case for Global Civics.” Global Economy and Development Working Paper 35, The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC, 2010.

Nussbaum, Martha. 1997. Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.

Olson, Christa, Rhodri Evans, and Robert Shoenberg. 2007. At Home in the World: Bridging the Gap Between Internationalization and Multi-Cultural Education. Washington DC: American Council on Education.

Schattle, Hans. 2007. The Practices of Global Citizenship . Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Schattle, Hans. 2009. “Global Citizenship in Theory and Practice.” In The Handbook of Practice and Research in Study Abroad:Higher Education and the Quest for Global Citizenship, ed. R. Lewin. New York: Routledge.

Deliberating about the meaning of “global competence” in a public US university

MasarahVanEyckEditor’s note: this guest entry has been kindly provided by Masarah Van Eyck. Masarah (pictured to the right) is Director of Communications for the Division of International Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Before joining the Division in 2007, she served as a communications/development director and an editor for Wisconsin-based nonprofits. She is a freelance writer and holds a PhD in French history from McGill University.

This entry was just published in On Wisconsin, a magazine produced by the Wisconsin Alumni Association and University Communications for alumni and “friends” of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We sought permission to reprint it as the original article sheds light, in interesting ways, on deliberations about a key concept in global higher ed – “global competency”.  Representatives of universities throughout the world are grappling, in varying ways, with the notion of what a “global citizen” is, what “global competency” is (or even if it exists!), and to what purposes it should/could be used. Indeed it is worth noting that regardless of whether or not this complicated concept is a coherent one, global competency is being used to frame and legitimize the restructuring of policies, teaching and research programs, hiring, admissions, pedagogy, and even built form and aesthetics, on an increasing number of campuses. It is thus important to engage with the concept, and understand how it is being constituted in variable ways, in different places and times.

Our thanks to Masarah Van Eyck, and to the editors of On Wisconsin as well as University Communications, for permission to reprint this article (the original title is ‘Global Views’). Our thanks, too, to the following students whose photographs were used to accompany the original article, and which are included below. We include the original accompanying text here: Anna Green ’09 (placed first in the Urban Landscapes category of the UW’s annual Study Abroad Photo Contest coordinated by International Academic Programs. She shot the photo in 2008 while studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina);  With her photo, “Pottery Market,” shot in Cuenca, Ecuador, in 2006, Kathryn Broker-Bullick ’06 garnered second place in the People and Culture category of the UW’s annual Study Abroad Photo Contest; “Fira at Dusk” captured second place in the Urban Landscapes category for John Vanek ’08, who shot the photo in 2007 in Santorini, Greece; Adam Sitte ’08, who studied in Cairo, Egypt, in 2007, earned second place in the People and Culture category of the UW’s annual Study Abroad Photo Contest for his photo, “Ibn Tulun Mosque.”; Tyler Knowles ’05 submitted this photo following his study abroad in England. He shot the image of a musician on the island of San Marco in Venice; A girl signs “I love you” in this photo, shot in Ngileni, South Africa, in 2007. Libbie Allen ’08, who studied in Cape Town, South Africa, earned first place in the People and Culture category of the UW’s annual Study Abroad Photo Contest; Laura Burns ’09, who studied in Seville, Spain, in 2008, earned third place in the Natural Landscapes category for this photo, which she shot in Hallstatt, Austria; Emily Palese x’10, who studied in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2008, earned second place in the Natural Landscapes category of the UW’s annual Study Abroad Photo Contest for her photo, “Hierve del Agua.” Kris Olds

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la-boca-barrioGLOBAL VIEWS

A new expectation is making the list of must-have abilities for today’s students: global competence. But where do you go to get it, and how do you know when you have it?

Jill Spear doesn’t think she has it, but says she knows people who do. Natalie Eisner x’09, whose mother is French, thinks she possesses some degree of it, while Catherine Skroch x’09, a child of missionaries, is confident that she’s had it most of her life. Claire de Boer x’09 isn’t sure how much of it she has, but she’s certain that studying abroad in French West Africa will give her more of it than, say, spending a year in France.

It is global competence, one of the latest buzzwords in higher education. My interest in the concept was piqued last winter when I traveled to a training ground of sorts — Saint-Louis, Senegal, the site of one of the UW’s more innovative study-abroad programs. There, several UW students were studying at the Université Gaston Berger, living in dormitories with Senegalese roommates, and in the midst of producing a fifty-page paper based on independent fieldwork.

For four months they had been immersed in the French and Wolof languages, and in a largely Muslim culture. (It had been equally long since they had taken a hot shower or washed their clothes in a machine.)

After a week of talking with students halfway through this challenging educational experience, I learned that most were pretty sure that they were acquiring global competence — that essential set of skills, attitudes, and knowledge they will need to succeed in today’s world. But when I queried one of the directors of the program, Jim Delehanty, about the notion, the story got more complicated.

Masarah2Delehanty has been to Senegal “twelve or so” times, he estimates. He spent years in the Peace Corps and later conducted research for his doctorate in Niger. He’s lived in Kenya and Kyrgyzstan. He speaks French and Hausa well, and knows enough Wolof “to make people smile,” he says.

Yet he doesn’t consider himself particularly globally competent.

“It’s a nice concept,” he says during a conversation in his office at UW-Madison, where he serves as associate director of one of the nation’s premier African studies centers. “[But] I’m just not sure it exists in practice.”

Anyone watching the news — and the economy — knows that the world is getting smaller, if not exactly, as author Thomas Friedman puts it, “flatter.” Trade, migration, pandemics, global warming, and a radical shift in wealth from the West to the East — all of these factors and more indicate that we’re living in a world of global challenges that will require global solutions. Our graduates need a mindset to match the world around them. But how exactly do we teach and assess these skills?

Like many universities, UW-Madison committed itself to “internationalizing” its curriculum a couple of decades ago. No longer the exclusive domain of liberal arts departments, international education is increasingly important in professional schools such as engineering, health sciences, and business. Students in the UW’s College of Engineering, for example, can now earn an international certificate by taking sixteen credits of courses that focus on the language, history, or geography of another culture. And programs including Engineers without Borders and the Village Health Project provide students with a chance to participate in community development and public health projects around the world.

Masarah3Impressively, more than a third of UW-Madison’s business undergraduates earn some credits abroad, as do more than half of its MBA students. And these students are pursuing the experiences for good reason: the top-ranked Thunderbird School of Global Management, with its patented Global Mindset Inventory used to measure one’s capacity to conduct business on a world stage, says that “individuals with a high stock of Global Mindset … know how to manage global supply-chain relationships … and understand global competitors and customers.”

But as international outlooks and skills become integral to core curricula, universities increasingly face the challenge of evaluating their students’ progress. And this means starting by defining the result: global competence.

A team of UW-Madison faculty, staff, and students recently set out to write that definition. Called the Global Competence Task Force, the group released its findings last fall, delineating not only what the term means, but also how UW students might best acquire it.

Randy Dunham, a management professor who directs the business school’s Center for International Business Education and Research, chaired the initiative. On his desk sits a photo frame that rotates digital images of his own travels through the years: animals spotted on safari, a temple in Asia, and a ruin in the Middle East. (Interestingly, several iPods sit stacked on the table between us as we talk. I later learned that these were prizes for an annual, weeklong competition that drew MBA students from as far away as Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Copenhagen.)

Despite his own global leanings, however, Dunham says the task force took a soft-sell approach in its campus wide proposal.

“We are not recommending requirements or standards,” he explains. “We knew that if we said [global competence] is this many languages or this many area-studies courses, it would have been too contentious to be adopted.”

In addition, says Gilles Bousquet, dean of UW-Madison’s Division of International Studies, the group knew that there is no one-size-fits-all definition.

“Global competence isn’t going to look the same in engineering, the health sciences, or the humanities — and it’s also going to mean something different to an educator, an executive, or the head of an NGO [nongovernmental organization],” he says.

Masarah4Instead, the task force listed the components or “competencies” that make up a global mindset, hoping that each campus unit would adopt the definition. Predictably, perhaps, they include the ability to work and communicate effectively in a variety of cultures and languages, and the capacity to grasp the interdependence of nations in a global economy. Somewhat surprisingly, though, many of the core competencies indicate a kind of stance or attitude — the proclivity to engage in solving critical global issues, for example, and a willingness to see the world from a perspective other than one’s own.

What the team doesn’t define, however, is what level of competency is sufficient.

“Developing global competency is a lifelong process,” says Marianne Bird Bear, assistant dean of the Division of International Studies, who sat on the task force. “The university’s role is to make students aware that all disciplines — political science, agriculture, health care — have global, cross-cultural aspects to them. Our job is to provide the training and experiences to develop the global skill set necessary … to address a given problem or understand a certain condition.”

Accordingly, the team recommends that campus units require each incoming undergraduate to adopt a “global portfolio” to record the relevant courses and experiences he or she acquires while pursuing a degree. A second part of the portfolio outlines how these activities specifically translate into global abilities that would be attractive to future employers or graduate schools. In developing this portfolio, the team posits, students will plan their educational paths with an eye toward gaining global competencies.

With a goal of clearly defining expectations, Dunham says, “We asked ourselves, ‘What is it going to take to motivate students to see global education as essential?’ We want to create the impression as students come in that it’s normal, that global education is expected.”

Masarah5While instilling any kind of cross-campus mandate may be slow going, convincing students of the value of international education seems to be a no-brainer. These days, many are well on their way to global-mindedness long before entering college.

Before coming to Senegal, political science and agronomy student Brenda Lazarus x’09 had traveled extensively and studied abroad in high school. She values her friendships with international students on campus for the exposure they give her to perspectives from, say, Mexico or the Philippines. A Minnesota native, Lazarus says that international exposure helps her develop a good knowledge of diverse issues and cultures so that “if [I] go abroad for [my] work or deal with someone from a different culture,
everything will go well.”

What’s more, she says, learning about other cultures has given her the self-possession she’ll need for the work she hopes to pursue in an overseas governmental agency or NGO after graduation.

Anyone who has moved to another country can recount that moment when the romance of living in a new culture was tempered by everyday concerns — a visit to the doctor, for example, or the need to decipher a cell-phone plan. These are the moments when we see other parts of the world as equally complex and mundane as our own, and not just as the colorful backdrop for our adventures.

What is more, the challenge of independently producing, say, a fifty-page thesis or meeting the academic standards of a world-renowned university in another language means that students must take seriously the “study” in “study abroad.”

Masarah6“I’m more independent now,” Lazarus tells Delehanty and me at the Senegal university’s buvette, an outdoor snack bar, over instant coffee in cups stamped “Made in China.” “I’m more confident that, whatever situation I’m in, I can deal with it.”

(Of course, the UW’s International Academic Programs office concerns itself, first and foremost, with students’ safety, briefing them before departure, establishing onsite points of contact, and maintaining a 24/7 hotline.)

To Dunham, developing confidence is essential. “International exposure challenges the way people see, the way they think, the things they see,” he says. “It makes them much more competitive professionally.”

Such exposure also prepares students for jobs that are “outside of their comfort zones,” he adds. “If you’ve done a study abroad in India, is it going to be intimidating for you to live in New York City? I don’t think so.”

Even those who choose to live and work in Wisconsin will be ill prepared without a global mindset, says Mary Regel ’78, director of the Bureau of International Development in Wisconsin’s Department of Commerce, who served on the UW’s global task force.

“Companies are looking for employees who have a broad view of the world,” she says. “They want their workforce to be cognizant and respectful of other cultures. Wisconsin is becoming more diversified, and it’s a rare company these days that doesn’t have some interaction with other cultures.”

Dunham puts it bluntly: “If you only think domestically, you’re more limited in your own choices and, ultimately, you limit the vision of the firm or company you work for.”

For some students, success in the job market — while a welcome byproduct — isn’t the only reason to enhance their global competence.

“Globalization has offered enormous opportunities to the human race,” says Bousquet, who founded UW-Madison’s pioneering Professional French Master’s Program. “But it’s also opened many challenges, most pressing among these the need to keep the human condition — to ensure secure and just lives for everyone — at the center of our focus.”

Masarah7 Happily, studies reveal that global competence seems to go hand-in-hand with the kinds of qualities, such as open-mindedness and compassion, we’ll need to prevent and repair the inequalities that our shrinking planet presents. Recently, a senior scientist at the Gallup Organization released findings from a Global Perspectives Inventory suggesting that those who see themselves as global citizens most often also feel a need to “give back to society” and “work for the rights of others,” and demonstrate a willingness to grapple with complex issues that may present more than one solution.

The director of Harvard’s International Education Policy Program recently argued in the Chronicle of Higher Education that globally minded people would more likely respond to world events with empathy, interest, and understanding. Second only to these qualities are those that speak more to skills than attitude: the ability to communicate in different languages, for example, and a broad and deep knowledge of world histories and cultures.

Global competence, you might say, is a combination of cross-cultural knowledge and the kind of personal and intellectual inner journey that an international experience offers.

To Delehanty, who has overseen the progress of study-abroad students for a decade, and who knows better than most how the world opens eyes, it’s the notion of mastery that is troublesome.

Masarah8“I guess the idea of ‘competence’ makes me uneasy — the thought that there’s a skill set that we all need to master,” Delehanty told me on our last day in Senegal. “Isn’t it really the opposite? Isn’t humility the common denominator of people who function effectively away from home? There are uncountable opportunities in our lives to learn humility. I’m not convinced there is an internationalist version of it.”

Still, he concedes, going abroad will surely shake up your certainties if nothing has done so before. And that uncertainty leads to a new kind of insight.

As one UW student in the Senegal program, influenced by her everyday French, concluded, “It’s like there is savoir and then there is connaissance. You can know a lot about the world, but global competence is about understanding it.”

Masarah Van Eyck