At Home in the World? Appraising Global Citizenship
Many people think of themselves as citizens of the world and try to live accordingly. Some communities - countries, cities, even universities – also try to become more international or cosmopolitan. In an age of globalization this seems sensible; literally and figuratively we constantly cross borders as we work, consume, partake in culture, and of course, travel. Likewise, because our lives are deeply connected to others around the world, the ethical call to “think globally”, and to act to make a better world, is compelling. Yet, thinking and living globally is a complicated notion. How do people and communities become cosmopolitan, and what lessons do they learn from their experiences? Is the ideal of global citizenship both practical and beneficial? Are global citizens equally at home in different cultures around the world, or are they people who are truly at home nowhere? Are cosmopolitan cities forming more diverse and globally-engaged communities, or are they eroding the community ideal by enabling people to live lifestyles that are engaged in distant affairs but dis-engaged from their neighbors? Is a global perspective possible, or does it always conceal the false assumption that our own values are universal? We will explore these questions through texts drawn from several genres, including a memoir by the Chilean-American writer Ariel Dorfman, an accompanying film titled A Promise to the Dead, travel writing by Pico Ayer, a social history of American volunteers teaching abroad, and a conversation on education, patriotism and citizenship written by noted philosophers Martha Nussbaum, Benjamin Barber, and others. We will also speak to global citizens in our community to seek their wisdom and compare it to the ideas we develop by discussing and writing about our texts.
Course taught by