What is Global Citizenship?

Connection across cultures is a crucial component in fostering empathy on a global scale. As such, broadening one’s horizons and stepping out of your own experience is essential in order to develop empathy for others.

One way to achieve this goal is by diving head first into global citizenship. But what is global citizenship? What is a global citizen? And how do you become a global citizen? Let’s look into the answers to these questions, as well as some of the ways in which you can expand your global citizenship education.



What is global citizenship?

While it may mean different things to different people, the most common global citizenship definition is the idea that all people have civic responsibilities to the world as a whole, rather than just their local communities or countries. So, by expanding one’s personal horizons through global learning, you are able to effect change in a more meaningful sense on both a small and larger scale.


What does it mean to be a global citizen and how do you become one?

Global citizenship is more than a title — it’s a mindset. In the emerging digital world, the international community is getting closer and closer, yet if one chooses not to act, it’s easy to stay in a bubble. Ask yourself — what communities am I a part of? Your answers could include your home, school, work, or literal neighborhood — expanding that into the world community strengthens your global citizenship. In these “small” communities, you might exchange ideas with a friend or help out a coworker with a problem. Being a global citizen simply means having a willingness to do this with people from different nations and cultural backgrounds.

You may feel like you don’t have enough to offer. It’s tempting to think you have to travel to a new country every month or fight for social justice to define yourself as a “global citizen.” This misses the mark. The global citizen definition you should use is more about being connected and garnering an understanding of cultures beyond your own. This looks different for different people. What does it mean to be a global citizen for you? It could start with something as simple as researching a new country or making friends with an immigrant neighbor. It could end with traveling abroad and contributing to community efforts to advance education, health, or environmental conservation. Working to solve our shared global challenges is so important, and this drive to make a positive impact is most effective when it stems from the feeling of global citizenship and being a member of an international community.

So then, how does one become a global citizen or improve their global citizenship skills? What do you have to do in order to get this kind of global education and world mindset? When people make the decision to become global citizens, they have already made a step in the right direction towards expanding their global awareness, but there are some things — both small and large — that you personally can do to create global citizenship in your own life. Here are just a few.


Learn About the World

Even before you hop into international travel, there are ways in which you can learn about the world. The internet is a wonderful resource, and a massive web of information is available with just a few clicks or taps of your finger. If you cannot visit specific countries or cultures, with the internet you still have a way to learn and understand their experiences. This could be through reading, but also through connecting with others across the world and talking with them about your shared and contrasting life experiences. Did you know you can be an online tutor to young international students? Have you ever sought out Twitter accounts of people from different countries? It’s easy to get close to people from different cultural backgrounds. Try to understand issues that you do not face regularly, and explore things outside of your regular purview. With the technology that is now available to us, it is not too much of a stretch for anyone to increase their global citizenship.


Learn About Yourself

Being a part of any community involves giving and receiving. As you learn about the world, you should see some mindsets change, and you may discover new interests and causes to explore. Are you passionate about social or political involvement? Do you wish you could alleviate climate change? Do you have the skills to teach English online or help on an organic farm? Knowing what you care about and what you want to offer to the world will help you develop your own global citizenship. You’ll quickly find that you have something to offer — and the potential to make a positive impact.



One of the best ways to grow your global citizenship and become a citizen of the world is, naturally, to get out and go see it. Traveling to other countries can provide you with invaluable experience and education through interacting with other cultures. Sustainable life lessons are often borne of these kinds of travel experiences, allowing you to learn about topics like global health, interdependence, diversity, social justice, and more through your lived experiences while abroad.


Become a Leader

Many people point to the current crisis of leadership as evidence that we need to be doing more to create a generation of leaders who can solve our shared global challenges. Leaders with more diverse life experiences, a global perspective, and greater empathy are desperately needed if we’re going to address issues like climate change, global health, and inequality. By working on cultivating your personal leadership skills, you may be able to contribute more to building a more sustainable, inclusive future. Developing your leadership skills can help you become the most impactful global citizen you can be and empower you to make a difference for the communities and issues you care about.



Are you looking to connect with motivated young changemakers worldwide to develop the necessary skills for solving global challenges? With Global Citizen Year you have the opportunity to find your people, your purpose, and your power to make an impact.

Connect with young leaders from 80+ countries to deepen your understanding of the world, create long-lasting relationships, and learn cross-cultural skills. Our expert instructors will guide you to identify your personal strengths and find your purpose. Together, you will have the opportunity to build leadership skills designed to help drive positive change. Expand your global citizenship by connecting with young leaders across the globe.

Ultimately, the effort you put into growing your global citizenship is something that will benefit both yourself and the people with whom you come into contact. Learn more about Global Citizen Year here.

“To me, a global citizen is someone who seeks to engage with and has great respect for communities that are very different than their own, whether those be actually international communities or even communities within your own — within your own country, that you are not very familiar with. The key components are respect and a willingness and in fact a desire to really engage with those communities, engage those differences, and learn from them and kind of revel in the differences that exist.”

Jordan Lee, Yale University ’17, Global Citizen Year Alumnus ’13


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