Today, we began with a lecture by Felix Ciuta on how the Danube can be related to International Politics. We discussed how rivers have been heavily associated with power and military strategy. In fact, if you think about it, many historical battles bear the name of rivers (e.g. the Somme) and, quite surprisingly, this connection can even be seen in popular culture such as simulation game “Civilization”. In our tutorial, we thought back to the Un-Conference at the beginning of the programme, and discussed on how everything we have learnt so far has changed our initial idea of what it means to be a true Global Citizen. You can in fact find our reflections posted below. Finally, we spent the afternoon editing and completing our film project, and we’re really excited about how it turned out!
Our Response to “being a global citizen”
Global Citizenship: theory and practice
To be a global citizen is a lot more complicated than we initially thought at the start of this Summer School. Global citizenship can be considered utopian to a certain extent. There are many obstacles to becoming a global citizen. The one we highlighted as most prominent is: we are often confronted with a desire to act and change things for the better, but with no outlet for action.
We all agreed on the importance of education. Action should be informed by knowledge. However, we also reflected on how global social inequality prevents everyone from getting the right education. The inequality between developed and less developed countries puts some people in more “global” positions than others, thus making it a privilege rather than an opportunity. Global citizenship should be about equal opportunities.
To be global citizen one needs to think of others not just one self. It involves solidarity and empathy. We talked about empathy expressed through actions not just feelings. This kind of empathy can involve trying to learn about a community through doing voluntary work, or trying to learn another language in order to understand other cultures better. We also agreed on the importance of communication skills. As simple as it sounds, talking to people and trying to understand different points of view, should inform our way of being global citizens.
On this point, the importance of historical context of other cultures is crucial. We ought to aim at understanding others’ view of the world which at times can differ from our own. On this basis we can negotiate differences. The most important thing is critical thinking, we can never learn everything, but everything we learn as individuals given our own circumstances, we should not take for granted and we should reflect on it.
Attributes of global citizens
We agreed that all of the proposed attributes of being a global citizen still apply. Awareness is the most basic of things. In order to have empathy and be responsible and open-minded, you have to be first aware of the differences between people, in general. We also highlighted the importance of making a change through action. It is one thing being aware, but if you don’t do anything about it, things will not change. Travelling to somewhere, and learning through cultural contact can at times be a lot more productive than just sitting in a classroom and learning through books.