According to Hong Kong’s Institute of International Education, “Global citizenship goes beyond knowing that we are citizens of the globe. It is a way of thinking and behaving. It is an outlook on life, a belief that we can make a difference and make the world a better place. Young people are growing up in an increasingly global context. Many will live, work, and study alongside people from all over the world. More and more people are traveling for work or for leisure. All forms of culture are shaped by global influences. Each decision we make as professionals, consumers, or voters has an impact on global society.” Oxfam, a global organization focused on overcoming poverty and suffering, identifies the following aspects as the constituent features of global citizenship. A global citizen is someone who – is aware of the wider world and has a sense of his or her own role as a world citizen;- respects and values diversity;/- has an understanding of how the world works economically, politically, socially, culturally, technologically, and vironmentally;/- participates in and contributes to the community at a range of levels from local to global;/- is willing to act to make the world a more sustainable place.
One challenge to the concept of global citizenship is the apparently biological preference by humans to be loyal to their in-group: their own family, neighbors, and racial or religious communities. According to evolutionary biologists, this ethnocentrism has had an adaptive advantage in the evolution of humankind. However, it appears that at this time in history, it may be necessary for humans to rise above their biology and attempt, through their ability to analyze problems, anticipate outcomes, and forge solutions, to aspire to a more altruistic sense of values that embraces a sense of belonging to the world, not just to the village.
One way to develop global citizenship is through education. Schools and universities all over the world — Canada, U.S., Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Mexico, Australia, England —- have centers of global education and citizenship that promote the teaching of global values. Global citizens are inspired to think beyond the boundaries of place, identity, and category and act “as human beings to human beings.” However, it is important not to abandon the richness of the diversity of language, religion, and culture. If we globalized into a homogeneous unit, life would become less interesting. To imagine and work toward a better world that is united and diverse at the same time will require enormous creativity and passion.