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  • Writer's pictureOvith Thiyagalingam

Global Citizenship in the Modern World

This article discusses the intersectionality of global citizenship and digital transformation.

“A global citizen is someone who is aware of and understands the wider world – and their place in it. They take an active role in their community and work with others to make our planet more peaceful, sustainable and fairer.”

- Oxfam GB, United Kingdom

Defining Global Citizenship

While the definition may vary from person to person, a common interpretation of global citizenship is the perception of oneself or an organization as holding civic responsibilities to an emerging global community, rather than to local or national communities.

Being a global citizen involves the mindset of acknowledging the universally shared human experience, the interconnectedness of all people, and the need to understand and learn from each other rather than to fear the differences.

While humans have historically demonstrated a pattern of organizing communities based on shared identity, whether based on economic, political, religious, or social factors, digital transformation is increasingly strengthening our connectedness to the rest of the world and reshaping our definitions of community.

New technologies are empowering us to connect with more people in more ways than ever before. If the trends of increasing adoption of hybrid work models and video web conferencing technology during the COVID-19

pandemic offer us any indication, it is that technology has strengthened our ability to connect with others right from our respective homes.

Despite an increasingly digitally connected global community, however, expanding one’s own perspective to include the global community can be daunting. Looking back, I remember once thinking about global citizenship and feeling inadequate in what I could contribute as a global citizen in comparison to the immensely rich and diverse cultures and peoples from all over the world.

An easy and tempting option was for me think that one must travel internationally to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds and to understand the international social and economic issues that in truth affect all of us.

What it means to be a global citizen is different to everyone, and I learned that all it takes is a willingness to learn more about and better understand the cultures and perspectives that differ from one’s own. With the support of the continuously increasing digital global connectedness, global citizenship can be as simple as researching a new country or engaging in open-minded discussions with someone from a different culture. A personal commitment to global citizenship could lead to foreign travel to support global community efforts to support vulnerable communities and drive positive social impact. However, this isn’t the case for everyone.

Technology innovation and digital transformation have opened avenues for the global citizen in the modern world to be committed to upholding their global civic responsibilities while physically remaining within their own national borders.

Connecting Student Human Rights Action and Global Citizenship

Student human rights action is not confined by geographic boundaries, and the change that students drive in their own local and national communities can have resounding positive and global social impact.

By understanding global citizenship and the interconnectedness of people all around the world, students and youth can be leaders in tackling global human rights issues and advocating for meaningful change and peaceful resolutions.

So, what can students in Canada do?

  1. Educate yourself on what’s happening in the world

    1. Explore blogs and news sites that discuss current international affairs and global human rights issues.

    2. Research events in your local community that celebrate diverse cultures and learning.

    3. Take a relevant course at school, such as one that teaches critical thinking, international affairs, or global human connectedness.

    4. Take time to reflect on yourself and your place in the world around you.

  2. Volunteer

    1. Get involved with local clubs, charities, or non-profit organizations that are committed to the principles of global citizenship and helping people around the world.

    2. If you’re working during the summer, get involved with initiatives that might have been organized by your employer to support the global citizenship agenda. Alternatively, try proposing and leading a new global citizenship-promoting program.

  3. Seek out connections

    1. Responsibly use communication tools, like LinkedIn, to virtually connect with people from different backgrounds and from all over the world who are willing to share their own perspectives and engage in constructive conversation.

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