What Is Global Citizenship and How Does It Help Our Young People?


We all have the great power and privilege of being a part of a multitude of communities, from our local communities, such as our families, schools, or local neighbourhoods, to broader communities, like our towns and our global community, which refers to citizens all over the world. Now, more than ever, it is vital that we actively engage with our communities and understand the wider world and our place within it.

The world is currently facing an abundance of crises, and decisions made in one country heavily impact those living in another. We have seen an increase in the need and demand for global engagement to tackle the self-inflicted problems we are currently facing, from the climate crisis to migrant struggles, but how we interact with these is down to us.

So, what exactly is global citizenship, and what does it mean to be a global citizen? We will explore these definitions, how to actively engage with global citizenship, and the benefits young people experience from engaging with their global communities as global citizens.

What Is Global Citizenship?

Global citizenship encompasses the discussion of environmental, economic, and social actions. It can be easy to stay in your bubble and only engage with issues that directly impact you; however, global citizenship believes everyone has civic responsibilities to the whole world rather than focusing solely on themselves or local communities.

By engaging with other cultures and identities we can challenge and recognise stereotypes. Fostering these concepts encourages the exploration of global connections and their assumptions, views, and values. Through this global learning, you can explore and apply a multitude of perspectives in order to address complex global challenges, for example, issues regarding social justice.

As human beings sharing one planet, we have a collective responsibility to ensure that we are all of equal worth and share a common humanity. So, as the world continues to face challenges, how can we, by engaging with global citizenship, work with the world community to create a fair and just society for all?

What Are Global Citizens?

Throughout history, human beings have been self-organised into communities and groups that share similarities in culture, ideas, values, and identities. This has helped shape many political, religious, and social movements. In recent years, however, we have seen a rise in the need for global engagement in the world’s community.

Global issues like sustainable development, climate change, human rights protection, migrant struggles, and safeguarding cultural diversity affect each and every one of us. Thus, as a global citizen, you actively seek ways to work towards overcoming these in the international community. You offer solidarity to the communities affected by the current climate of the world.

global citizenship

As a global citizen, you learn to value and respect the diversity of independent communities, and you have a global awareness that all individuals deserve to live in an equal and healthy world. You learn to understand the wider world and your place within it to foster empathy on a global scale. With this, you can contribute to causes that enable and empower an equal world.

Global citizens are curious and committed to participating in fighting for a fair future for all. They are committed to engaging with the global community to work toward solving global challenges. This drive is most effective when it stems from a sense of global citizenship.

Benefits of Global Citizenship

As a global citizen, you learn to be adaptable, creative and dedicated. This encourages young people to become involved; to become proactive members who are committed to working in the international community to make a positive difference.

Through an exchange of ideas, we can begin to question and discuss the distribution of power and the root of decision-making. We learn to understand how diverse dynamics and minority groups are most impacted by this decision-making. We begin to ask questions, such as, “How do those in power continue to suppress to benefit the few and not the many?”

With this knowledge, individuals can challenge intolerance and ignorance; they are able to develop and create arguments and opinions to engage in building a secure world for all.

In particular, with the world becoming more interconnected and globalised, young people are able to experience an abundance of benefits as global citizens. With a global citizenship outlook, young people can develop a more profound empathy and awareness. This allows them to approach the complex realities of today’s world in a proactive and positive manner. They can delve deeper into critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Young people engaging in global citizenship can learn respect, tolerance, and celebration of diversity. Through solidarity, inclusion, and equity, young people can strive to make positive changes in worldwide matters. Other ways that young people benefit from becoming global citizens include:

  • Identifying values and importance of issues.
  • Involvement in local, national, and global communities.
  • Awareness of how actions and choices can affect people all over the world.
  • A growth in respect for themselves and others, regardless of who they are or where they live.
  • Participation and networking with activists engaging in gender equality, environmental protection, migrant struggles and rights, poverty alleviation, and sustainable economic growth.
  • Becoming effective problem solvers, learning to make decisions, communicate effectively, and work well as part of a team.

These benefits translate to all aspects of a young person’s life; educationally, personally and if relevant, professionally.

How to Become a Global Citizen

So, how do you become a global citizen, and how do you engage in global citizenship? There are several things that you can do that can help you to create a sense of global citizenship within your life. Below are three steps that you can take to begin your global education:

Start Asking Questions

All great advances start with questions. Be inquisitive.

  • What would you like to learn about?
  • What current world affairs resonate with you the most?
  • What angers you about the current climate of the world?

Often, when people become aware of global citizenship and what it entails, they believe they must travel across the world to be involved; however, this is far from the truth. The internet is a wonderful hub of abundant resources available at the click of a button. Our local communities are also often made up of people from all over the world and of different ages with different life experiences and stories to tell. By opening conversations and engaging more with members of your own country, you can learn about different struggles, both personal and on a larger scale. You can start your global education journey through the internet, literature, and learning from one another.

Stay Informed

It’s important that you engage with news and events that are happening in different places around the world. Participate in conversations about this and discuss topics around the issues people are facing, how different movements are working to tackle these, and who is suppressing who.

Read alternative news sources, don’t simply accept, and follow the mainstream. Often the narrative is warped to fit an alternative motive or is spoken about in a form that fits the agenda of those providing the news. Give yourself a human rights education so you can uphold your own views and debates on others. This gives you the knowledge to question events around the world.

Through exposure to global trends in different countries, you will be able to become more involved in the social movements that you care about the most. You can then equip yourself with the proper knowledge to support a specific struggle or movement. Understanding what you have to offer and what you care about will allow you to develop your own sense of global citizenship.

If You Have the Opportunity, Travel

To become involved and physically engage with the matters you have been researching is a great privilege. Not everybody has the right to a passport or travel document or has the ability to travel. If you do, utilise this. Travelling allows you to broaden your perspectives of different cultures and challenges that people around the world are experiencing. There are alternative ways to explore the world but on a more local scale. Museums or cultural events that emphasise global perspectives are just as essential to visit. Travelling not only deepens your understanding of the wider world, it allows you to gain critical, personal, and professional skills that will stay with you throughout your life.

Global Citizenship Education

The International Journal of Development Education and Global Learning is an internationally referenced journal that sets out an academic response to the educational and public interest in understanding and learning about the wider world. Through reading publications of educational research and current debates, you can begin your education as a global citizen. The journal highlights the importance of engaging with these topics and helps advance the understanding and importance of development education.

The United Nations set Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 17 global goals to be achieved by 2030. Ranging from gender equality to climate change, the SDGs call for local and global activism to help protect the planet and improve the prospects and lives of everyone, everywhere. They act as great points for discussion and should be a part of your global education.

The Global Classroom is the largest digital classroom in the world and delivers a programme of events led by influential leaders at the top of their fields. It looks at connecting young people, policymakers, and changemakers around the world to discuss issues facing different members of society. It is a great platform to educate yourself on global citizenship.

Treatment at The Wave Clinic

At The Wave Clinic, we are dedicated to providing exceptional mental health care for young adults, teenagers, and their families. We provide specialised treatment for mental health concerns, behavioural issues, and addictions. We offer a unique approach tailored to an individual’s specific needs to work towards positive growth and full recovery.

An important part of our approach to recovery is encouraging active inquiry, involvement, and participation in new activities and skills. We aim to provide opportunities for young people to change the direction of their lives.

If you have any questions or would like more information, contact us today, and our friendly care team will talk you through the opportunities and programs we offer.

Fiona - The Wave Clinic

Fiona Yassin is the founder and clinical director at The Wave Clinic. She is a U.K. and International registered Psychotherapist and Accredited Clinical Supervisor (U.K. and UNCG).

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