Role of Universities in Building Global Citizens

With global economies getting more integrated, international trade becoming more common, and cultures merging, the concept of national citizenship has lost its significance as the only defining force of individual identity. These cultural, political and economic complexities require a concept that could transcend boundaries of nationalism and address the bigger issue of globalization. The emerging concept of global citizenship encompasses the idea of how modern citizenship is changing, transcending the national borders and associating oneself with a global community rather than one particular nation or place.  Universities that are increasingly involved in international engagements serve as a platform to study the changing dynamics.

To fully understand and appreciate the practical application of the concept of global citizenship, the first and foremost challenge for universities is to develop curriculum that  considers various transnational opportunities and that can engage students and faculty to get involved in producing and applying knowledge in global context. Such a curriculum must aim to prepare students to understand the complexity of global problems and the 21st century challenges. It should develop students who can fully understand the complexity of the situation and can meet the demands of the interconnected and global century. Universities will need to come up with innovative and creative classroom activities to let students participate and improve global awareness.

The second challenge is to overcome fear and prejudices whilst reinforcing the values in global citizens. Since the concept of global citizenship is not a unilateral process and welcomes perceptions and ideas from various school of thoughts, the challenge is to homogenize certain aspects that would accelerate the link between self-consciousness and cultural heterogeneity. This would allow the rejection of many fears and prejudices and respect multiplicity of different cultures.

As the world would continue to merge into one entity, the graduates of tomorrow will face unanticipated challenges that would require them to solve local, regional and global problems. The role of universities would become even more crucial as jobs would become more challenging and workplaces more perplexing. They would require the professionals to work in a diverse community in order to qualify for equal opportunities. To understand the costs, benefits and risk of short term international experiences and to overcome challenge of alienating one’s own beliefs and value system, students will have to be politically critical and personally transformative.

While global citizens are becoming members of global community in global institutions, the use of technology is becoming more and more crucial. Technology does not only serve as an important tool in better preparing global citizens but it is also one of the major factors that makes the idea of global citizenship absolutely necessary. It has converged the world knowledge and the individual’s capacity to act at a distance. The use of internet and social networks allows us to effectively practice global responsibility and to understand different worldviews and cultures that are now just a click away. Technology has facilitated the growth of larger institutions and organizations and faster transportation systems, all resulting into better travel and effective communication.

The concept of viewing different socio-cultural, economic and political scenarios through one global lens must result in an inclusive worldview by overcoming its challenges and appreciating the opportunities offered by it.