What does it mean to be a Global Citizen? (And why does it matter to my future career)

What does it mean to be a
Global Citizen? (And why does it matter to my future career)

There is a lot of buzz about the term – Global Citizenship – particularly within universities.

Global Citizenship means that your identity, perspective and reach extends beyond the country and culture where you grew-up and/or where you are completing your university degree.

Employers say that an attitude of global citizenship makes graduates much more employable for two reasons:

  • Global Citizenship expands your geographical reach in that you are open to, and have developed the capability of, working in many parts of the world and effectively with diverse people.

  • Regardless of where you work (including if you stay where you were born and studied) you have reached out and expanded your horizons and cultural understanding meaning that employers can count on you to provide great customer service and respect to all stakeholders from all parts of the world.

In what is called – The Asian Century – global citizenship is increasingly important.

Let’s consider the context of India as one example. There are 18 times more annual graduates from India than there are from Australia.

However, the amount of federal money currently spent on education as a percentage of the overall spending is much higher in Australia than in India.

Some visionaries predict that if India is able to achieve the education aspirations the national government is setting, the massive size of the youth population means that India could become a world leader in what is being called the knowledge economy.

In other words, Indian university graduates could be the inventors and controllers of the predicted surge in robots across industries, and if not careful, graduates from other countries could be reporting to those robots.

In the context of social, economic, educational and cultural shifts in India, global citizenship for Australians means that across disciplines, students (and their professors) are staying up-to-date with:

  • The knowledge and technology advancements coming out of India

  • The emerging needs and industry/service/knowledge gaps

  • Changes to socio-cultural relationships and protocol

Furthermore, global citizens will develop networks, connections and collaborations with Indian experts in the chosen discipline/industry.

In the context of India, Australian students who have an attitude of global citizenship increase their employability by developing the knowledge, skills, capacity, emotional intelligence and reflective capacity to be:

  • Part of the knowledge revolution working in India

  • Employed by a multi-national company with branches in India

  • Oriented to the service needs of Indian consumers/customers

  • Competitive in a context of high numbers of university graduates

In the context of India, Global Citizenship does not only apply to Australian students studying in Australia, it also applies to Indian students studying in Australia. In Australia, the inbound mobility of international students is approximately 18%.

International education shifts between Australia’s third and fourth highest export industry. Compare that to India where the inbound mobility of international students is less than 1%.

However, just because a student is attending university in a different country does not mean that he or she is truly a global citizen.

If that student is only interested in knowing about the application to what he or she considers as home country, or he or she only speaks the language spoken in that home and hangs out with other students from that country, then an opportunity for global citizenship has been missed.

What are the key practical strategies that students can use to develop and improve their global citizenship?

  • Meet and greet and spend time with students from many different countries and cultural contexts. Ask them questions to try to understand their experiences. Maintain these networks. Stay in touch even after graduation.

  • Seek opportunities to contextualise your assessment activities in different national and cultural contexts. Consider the application to different countries than your own.

  • When your professors share case studies from other countries and cultures, take them seriously and learn what you can from them.

  • Consider completing an international exchange or internship and take the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the culture and make connections while there.

  • Pay attention to customs, protocols and what constitutes politeness in diverse cultures. Take the opportunity of university to observe, listen and develop your emotional intelligence.

In conclusion, global citizens have the capacity to change the world because they interact within and care about the whole world and its entire people which can lead to peace, an end to world-hunger, environmental sustainability and global quality of life.

About the Author

Shelley Kinash

Professor Shelley Kinash is University of Southern Queensland's Director, Advancement of Learning & Teaching. She is dedicated to research and action to nurture graduate employability and high quality student experience.

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