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October 2, 2018

What Does It Mean to Become a Global Citizen?

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and complex, the gap between local and global is shrinking.  Individual actions have global consequences and global challenges impact us all.  Whether we think much about it or not, we are all citizens of the world by birth.  The question is, what does it mean to be an engaged global citizen and why is it important?

A global citizen is someone who takes an active role in the world community, and whose actions help to define this community’s values and practices.  Global citizenship involves thinking about more than ourselves.  It means that we are all responsible for protecting the vulnerable, safeguarding the environment, and working together for the betterment of humankind.

Global citizens actively seek to understand issues and challenges such as climate change, migration, and poverty, which cannot be solved by individual nation-states alone.  In working to address such issues, we put ourselves in other peoples’ shoes and try to see the world from their point of view.  This doesn’t mean abandoning our own values, beliefs, or traditions, but rather celebrating diversity and recognizing the power of collaborative work.

Advocating for marginalized groups and lifting up those who are struggling are central to global citizenship.  We must cultivate values of empathy, compassion, and mutual respect with people from different cultures and backgrounds in order to take an active and productive role in our communities—both global and local.  Perhaps most importantly, global citizens never stop learning, but instead turn a critical eye toward our own predispositions and biases, constantly seeking new ways to get involved and influence the world around us.

Are you ready to become a global citizen? Pursue a master’s degree or graduate certificate in Global Community Engagement 100% online. Learn more at

About the Author: Dr. Arianna Nowakowski is the Assistant Director and Teaching Assistant Professor for the Global Community Engagement program at University College. She received her Ph.D. in International Studies from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 2012.


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