Global Citizenship

La Trobe University defines Global Citizenship as follows:

During their degrees all La Trobe University students will reflect on the opportunities and obligations of their citizenship in a globalising world. This entails:

  • recognising the broader global context in which their studies exist;
  • understanding the diversity of values and perspectives across the globe;
  • developing personal and technical skills to interact effectively with a diverse range of people in a world of complex interdependence;
  • actively engaging with a wide range of communities and institutions to meet the demands of global challenges and obligations.

The Global Citizenship Essential is strongly supported by the development of cultural literacy as a graduate capability at La Trobe.

 Your Quick Guide To Global Citizenship

What is the Essence of Global Citizenship?

– Two key ideas: Global Contexts and Skills For Diversity

Global Context: Part of the purpose of the Global Citizenship Essential is to ensure that students understand the wider perspectives of their discipline/topic. This means understanding the complexity of interactions that link our personal lives and work with the wider world. When you buy coffee at the local market, it has come from somewhere, and that somewhere means there are likely to be global links and implications. Our world is becoming increasingly globalized and more complex, and students need knowledge, perspectives and skills to deal with this complexity. In the future, every profession will be affected by, and have influence on, transnational and global relationships, issues and opportunities. So it is important that students have some exposure to the wider contexts of their study, and how to think about and respond to these.

Skills and Perspectives For Diversity: It is not enough to understand the wider, global dimensions of their studies. Students also need to develop the perspectives and skills to be able to work and live effectively in a world of cultural diversity. Part of this involves understanding that not everyone else sees the world in the way they do. Different cultural backgrounds and different personal and social histories result in widely differing ways that people look at, experience, and respond to the world around them. Understanding this diversity of values and perspectives is necessary to be able to work and live in a global world. And beyond this, students need the opportunity to personally experience this diversity, and to practice how they should be respond to, and work with, others with widely different backgrounds and life experiences to their own. There should also be opportunities for them to have a first experience in working within their discipline to be productive in such diverse circumstances.

Can GC Focus On Just Dimension Of Global Diversity e.g. Global Issues?

No – the definition of GC requires that all elements of global citizenship be considered together. Students need to gain an understanding of the global context of their subject, and at the same time come to understand that people from other diverse backgrounds see the world in ways different to their own. Students also need to gain some personal, practical skills in how to positively respond to this diversity, and an opportunity to practicing how this might affect their future professional responses in their primary discipline area of study.

What Are Some Ways to Get Started?

You might want to think about the current wider, transnational or global issues and opportunities that are currently arising your discipline/profession. In doing this, you will need to think beyond the immediate short-term focus of the discipline, and consider how the discipline/profession is changing in, and being influenced by, wider changes beyond the local or australian perspective.

You should also think about how your students are going to get personal experience of a diverse of world views beyond their own. Many staff are tackling this requirement of GC by using the diversity of students in their subjects, to organize students into multi-diversity teams, around groups projects, where these are part of their subject. It is not enough for students to experience this diversity; they also need to reflect on their experience of this diversity, and come up with ways of working productively in such settings, and to ensure that their reflections on their experiences, and their productive response to this to be built into the subject assessment.

In other subjects, students get global perspectives and/or direct experience of working in diverse groups by undertaking projects with outside organisations (businesses, NGOs, professional associations) in which these are a an ongoing part of the work of these organisations. Some students gain world perspectives and cultural perspectives and skills by carrying out their studies in overseas locations – again, for this to meet the GC requirements, students will need to reflect on these experiences, perspectives and skills development as part of their formal assessment requirements for the subject.

How Overtly Do I Need to Cover Global Citizenship?

Global Citizenship needs to be an overt part of the subject, but preferably in ways that integrate or link with some issue or activity that is located in the discipline (see examples above, and in the Examples and Resources for Global Citizenship). Remember that GC does not need to be in every part of the subject, but it needs to be sufficiently present to meet the requirements of the Essential – see Description above, and “What Formal Requirements Need to Be Met?” on the Getting Started page. The purpose of the Essential is to explore some dimension of global citizenship as this relates to the discipline or topic that the subject is covering. It is intended that the GC Essential expands the student view of their discipline, in ways that address issues of globalization and cultural diversity in the discipline – this will inevitably mean looking at the complexity of issues that these brings up for the discipline, including issues for which there are currently no clear directions of development. To some extent this places the staff member in a collaborative relationship with their students – looking together at the complexity and uncertainty of globalization and increased connection with diverse cultures, as this relates to the discipline/topic that is being explored, rather than the staff member being a source of pre-digested ideas or information. GC encourages active, exploratory learning in students, and is amenable to team processes and projects.

How Will I Respond To Students Concerns About Covering An Area Such As Global Citizenship If It Is Not A Traditional Part Of The Discipline?

Students need to be aware that global citizenship is being overtly addressed as part of the subject – this is one of the reasons for putting the definition of GC in the student learning guide, and making it clear in which parts of the subject GC is being addressed. For students who have concerns that the subject is being diverted by something foreign to the heart of the discipline, your response needs to be that: a) it is important for the future of the discipline/topic that globalization and being able to work in culturally diverse situations need to be addressed at some stage in education for this (you need to do a bit of homework to be up to speed with what this looks like for your discipline); and b) you as a staff member, as well as La Trobe as a whole, consider that students who have global citizenship perspectives and skills for working with cultural diversity in their discipline will have an edge in the future, as these issues and opportunities come to be addressed more centrally in the discipline, if they aren’t already.

Below is some more general information about the Global Citizenship Essential, some staff talking about their experience of the Essentials, and links to other sites.

Global Citizenship is about…

“having an open mind while actively seeking to understand cultural norms and expectations of others, leveraging this gained knowledge to interact, communicate and work effectively outside one’s environmentHunter, White & Godbey (2006) ” What does it mean to be Globally Competent”. Journal of Studies in International Education Vol 10, Issue 3.

“knowledge and skills, showing cross-cultural awareness, and valuing human diversity. The ability to work effectively, and responsibly, in a global context (p. 3) Oxford Brookes HEA “Teaching Global Citizenship: A case study in applied linguistics”

Interview with Elspeth Jones


According to La Trobe, Global Citizenship is explained to students like this:
Our globe is now more interconnected than ever. Important decisions made in the boardrooms, government departments or a family deciding to step foot on a leaky boat in search of a better life can affect us and our society in profound ways. Even seemingly small acts, including what we buy at the checkout to which party we vote for, can have huge implications for what happens in far distant places. The media we use, whether it’s the latest YouTube clip that’s gone viral, a new blockbuster computer game or Facebook status updates draw us into a web of endless global interconnections, unprecedented in human history.

At La Trobe, we’re committed to creating opportunities for you to learn about the civic, social and economic responsibilities that come with being a global citizen.

For students studying at La Trobe, this involves:

i) highlighting how their studies fit into the larger global picture;
ii) presenting them with the diversity of values and viewpoints on a range of issues around the globe;
iii) providing them with experiences to develop skills to effectively work and communicate with people from different cultural backgrounds; and
iv) showing them how to propel their career and mazimize their contribution in a globalized society

La Trobe University Lecturers, Dr. Steiner Ellinsen and Mr. Erdem Koc share their thoughts on what they see Global Citizenship to be about:


Below Business Academic, Nicole El Haber shares her thoughts on what it means to be a global citizen


There is more detail about these examples, and other examples of Global Citizenship, in the Examples and Case Studies sections of this website.


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