Global Citizenship


Elon Study Abroad in Ghana, 2013


There are many prevalent definitions of ‘global citizen,’ so I’ve pieced together one that best fits my own beliefs.  I believe a global citizen acknowledges that the most important resource on the planet is life.  Water, food, medicine, the environment etc are all important resources, but they have so much importance because they help preserve life.  A global citizen realizes their place as a citizen of the world, not just one nation community or family.  They don’t only recognize these imperatives, but they also act upon them.  They do their part to conserve resources, support those in need or raise awareness for activities that may infringe upon the freedom and safety of others.  Essentially, a global citizen contributes to the needs of the many while trying to minimize any negative consequences of their actions.


Certain questions can help discern if a person is a global citizen or not.  1) Do you believe that you are part of a global community? 2) Do you consider the potential consequences of your actions for your local community? What about the global consequences? 3) Do you feel you should help those in need if you are able no matter the geographic region? Do you act upon this?


The “ideal” type of global citizen acknowledges and consistently acts upon their role as a member of the global community.  This isn’t to say that people who don’t always act in the best interest are doing something horribly wrong. However, the preservation of life and the world in general would be in better shape if more people were this ideal type of global citizen.  For example, this person wouldn’t just focus on the issues at home.  They would see the suffering around the world as just as important to remedy as suffering in their own nation.  The ideal global citizen acts upon their role without seeing borders.  National borders do make the peoples’ suffering on the other side any less important or urgent to solve.  The Global Citizens Initiative website quotes Ron Israel “A global citizen is someone who identifies with being a part of an emerging world community, and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices” (Israel).  I believe this is an accurate way to concisely describe someone who is an ideal global citizen.


I would rate myself as a 5 or 6 on the global citizen scale.  I’m not as knowledgeable or aware as I should be about global issues, although I do acknowledge my place as part of the global community.  Furthermore, I don’t always act upon issues that I know I should and could help improve.  Relief funds, medical aid and global charities are all ways for someone who cannot leave their geographic area to help the global community.  I’ve done some of this in the past, but I could absolutely do more.  I’ve helped rebuild homes and done outreach in many communities, but this is still only local citizenship.  Part of this is because I am a college student. I don’t have the money or free time for most of the year to be able to reach out like I’d like to.  I do try to conserve resources and limit my footprint, though.  “An exemplary global citizen has the courage of their convictions” (Arcaro); I think I’ll become a better global citizen as I continue to educate myself and grow as person.


I don’t believe there is inherent tension between national and global citizenship.  Many people would answer that differently, but I think that is a result of extraneous factors.  There is no reason why there would inherently be problems between the two.  For example, I can understand why a neighbor would be upset if I donated money for tsunami aid that could have gone to relief work in our immediate community; we may know some of those affected here, but that doesn’t mean that those abroad are suffering less and don’t need as much help.  I think most reasonable people could understand that side of the argument.  Being a global citizen to me means supporting and protecting life, and I wouldn’t feel connected to a nation that would oppose this goal.


I enjoyed this PSA.  I think advertising is a great way to help people understand that they are part of a bigger community.  Many people may never think about their global role; they may not have left their community before or never been exposed to national issues.



Arcaro, Tom. Exemplary Global Citizens: Training for Trusteeship Address 2011. Elon University, September 2011. Web. 5 June 2013.


Elon Study Abroad. 2013. Ghana, Africa. Web. 5 June 2013.


Israel, Ron. “Global Citizenship: A Path to Building Identity and Community in a Globalized World.” The Global Citizens Initiative. Web. 5 June 2013.


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  1. Posted June 8, 2013 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    As your post indicates, there is a connection between knowledge and action that a gc must demonstrate, and this is not always easy to do. See Mr. Dove’s post for a very good comment on your observation that “life” is our most important resource.

  2. Posted June 6, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    It hasn’t been any personal experience of mine that shaped this view. I haven’t had the chance to help out abroad (those are my friends in the picture), but it was everything I’ve heard about different situations around the globe that made me think deeper.

  3. Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    I thought your personal definition of global citizenship was very interesting. When reflecting on this question myself, I did not make the connection between recognizing “life” as Earth’s most important resource and global citizenship. I think that is a very important point and I was left wondering about if any personal experiences impacted your definition. I was also intrigued by your definition of an “ideal” global citizen. I agree that a global citizen must recognize issues beyond their own boarders as equally important to national issues. After reading your definition I was wondering how you believe this kind of mentality is shown through action.