What is the Year of Global Citizenship?

The students, faculty and staff involved in planning the Year of Global Citizenship (YGC) have held off on defining this term too precisely – indeed, much of the programming at the start of the year will address the question, “what is global citizenship?” Still, we needed a provisional definition, open to revision, to guide our efforts. Provisionally then: Global citizenship is the recognition that acts we engage in, at any level (as individuals, as governments, or anything in between), may impact people in other parts of our common world. Therefore, beyond self-interest, the effects of one’s actions on the rest of humanity, and on the planet itself, deserve to be taken into account. To this extent, global citizenship has a strong educational component as it promotes a responsibility to learn about the situation of others, especially of those who seem distant or unlike us. Global citizenship raises the possibility of new allegiances, in addition to what is owed to family, community and country.

As passionate and engaged Furman University undergraduate students, we recognize the need for a globally conscious education to accommodate our increasingly globalized world. We find ourselves within a growing number who feel personally convicted by justice issues, locally and internationally, and who refuse passive participation.

In a culture where detachment and individualism can outweigh social responsibility, we have collectively worked to imagine a highly visible and participatory program able to engage other students in global issues. This program aims to encourage critical evaluation and responsible citizenship in a globalized world.

Moreover, we have found echoes of this initiative in some of Furman’s literature about its heritage and purpose as an institution, in the following lines:

    “Furman recognizes its responsibility both in and outside of the classroom to encourage students and faculty to confront the problems of contemporary society and to exercise moral judgment in the use of knowledge. To this end, Furman fosters a sense of social justice and encourages civic responsibility in creating a fair and equitable order. The Latin motto of the university, Christo et Doctrinae (for Christ and Learning) underlines the interrelationship of faith and learning. The university is committed to the education of the whole person.”

Understanding that Furman students will go on to be leaders in their communities, we find that graduating students bearing a consideration of the rights and responsibilities of global citizens suits our university's mission. Following a liberal arts vision, we need chemists who consider philosophy and ethicists with knowledge of neuroscience, religion majors considering the implications of genetic engineering robotics and computer scientists considering epidemiology. The Year of Global Citizenship shall be a step in this direction.

The Student Planning Committee

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