Global citizenship is loosely defined as “recognising the
interconnectedness of life, respecting cultural diversity and human rights,
advocating global social justice, empathising with suffering people around the
world, seeing the world as others see it and feeling a sense of moral
responsibility for planet Earth.” In effect, rather than seeing oneself as a
citizen of a single country or place, a global citizen sees their identity as
transcending borders of politics and geography, operating as a member of
humanity and not just a single nationality.
While global citizenship is not limited to those studying a
university degree, there is no doubting its prevalence in the higher education
sector. Universities including Deakin, Bond and La Trobe all have programs and
initiatives promoting global citizenship. These programs vary in scope but can
feature overseas study and volunteering to give the concept real-world context.
As technology continues to break down geographical barriers, graduates must be
increasingly prepared to engage with people from different cultures and adapt
to global environments in the workforce.
Soft skills have always been important, and they will
continue to increase in demand over the next decade. The Foundation for Young
Australians’ The New Work Smarts report found
that the demand for enterprise skills would rise dramatically by 2030,
including problem solving (100 per cent), critical thinking (41 per cent) and
communication (17 per cent). However, are the definitions of strong problem
solving or critical thinking skills the same around the world? Global citizens
will be equipped with these skills and understand how they differ from country
to country, culture to culture.
Author and educator Margaret Hepworth is one Australian
leading the charge in the global citizen sphere. After penning The Gandhi Experiment in 2016, which
addresses global citizenship, conflict resolution and non-violence, she has
continued to spread the message of peacebuilding through learning, running
workshops and presentations across India, Pakistan and Indonesia. While Margaret’s
core message is directed at informing teenagers, it is applicable to people of
all ages and encourages the kind of rigorous debate that universities are
renowned for fostering.
Being a global citizen might mean different things to different
people, but the overarching principles of tolerance, respect and responsibility
should be furthered and prospered at every opportunity, inside of the classroom
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The impact of university on Australian society