Week of March 4th: Global Citizenship

TK Couching on Global CitizenshipThis week, TK members asked questions about the notion of “global” citizenship, especially with regards to the implications of an expanding idea of citizenship and what this means for civic engagement. Given that Duke University hosts an Ethics, Leadership and Global Citizenship Focus Program and funds summer initiatives such as DukeEngage we curious to hear other students’ opinions.

An overwhelming number of couching participants said that they had heard of global citizenship before, many saying that the first time they heard of the term was either in high school or at Duke. Some identified problems they saw as inherent with humanitarianism. One student reflected that “White savior complex is a problem, especially the Global West going to “saving” people for the wrong reasons. Also, this sometimes can ignore how other cultures and expects them to conform to western standard.”

Participants had mainly positive views about DukeEngage but also tended to point out that some programs were better than other in educating students about the cultural and historical context of the communities where they were going to volunteer. One former DukeEngage participant said, “DukeEngage is mainly helping us- broadening our worldview and helping us, but that’s also okay. People who do DukeEngage thinking they will “save” people is the wrong mindset. Knowledge and exposure will help you understand how to give back in the future is great.”

Participants saw institutions of higher learning such as Duke as spaces where students could be exposed to different ideas and backgrounds and think more critically about what it means to “help the world”. As one student put quite eloquently, “Everyone should be open to learning about other places and cultures and not judge people for their different beliefs. If you have these core values you will inevitably become a global citizen. You don’t need to actually travel around the world to be a global citizen.”