Back to Blog Home

Global Citizenship: What is a Global Citizen & What Does it Mean?

December 19, 2023 Sarah Bichsel No Comments
Students at the Vatican in Rome

With each passing day, our world becomes increasingly globalized. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the music we listen to, and the electronic devices we use all connect to us to different corners of the globe. Whether we live in the middle of a bustling cosmopolitan city or a secluded country town, we can communicate with and thus make an impact on communities and individuals all over the world.

It’s truly an exciting time to be alive, but being connected is only the beginning. What does it mean for students to grow up in a world where communicating with kids their age on the other side of the planet is just as easy as calling their friend down the street? How does that global connectedness change the way students think and act? Is it just an interesting phenomenon to observe during the information age in which we live or is it something much more fundamental to our lives that bears contemplating on a deeper level?

At ACIS we subscribe to the belief that every time a student’s perspective is shifted globally, so does their ambition. We’ve researched and documented the multitude of ways in which travel has changed students’ lives in their experiences through educational travel, but we’re interested in exploring this phenomenon from a much wider perspective. In a world where students are coming of age with the entire world at their fingertips, we feel an obligation to imbue a sense of citizenship to go along with that global consciousness.

What is a Global Citizen?

Organizations large and small have weighed in on this debate contributing to the conversation around what it means to be a Global Citizen in a variety of ways and contexts. In our Global Citizenship Workshop, students will work together to create their own definitions and meaningful connections to their own lives.

Sample selection from the ACIS Global Citizenship workshop

Here are four ways Global Citizenship has been defined by four different organizations.


A global citizen is someone who identifies with being part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices.

From United World Schools:

A Global Citizen is someone who:

• Is aware of the wider world.
• Has a sense of their role as a world citizen.
• Respects and values diversity.
• Wants to tackle social injustice.
• Believes that all children and young people have a right to an education.
• Lives and promotes a sustainable way of life.

From Oxfam:

A Global Citizen is someone who:
• Is aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen.
• Respects and values diversity.
• Has an understanding of how the world works.
• Is outraged by social injustice.
• Participates in the community at a range of levels, from the local to the global.
• Is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place.
• Takes responsibility for their actions.

From Unicef:

A ‘global citizen’ is ‘someone who understands interconnectedness, respects and values diversity, has the ability to challenge injustice, and takes action in meaningful ways,’ but this is by no means the one definition for everyone. It can and should reflect the character of the class, school, and community.

Even though organizations as reputable and esteemed as UNICEF and OXFAM have weighed in, this conversation is just getting started. By no means is there a “textbook” definition at this point, which is why we’re so excited to be able to contribute to the dialogue.

ACIS Student traveler working on Costa Rica reforestation project

How Do You Become a Global Citizen?

The path to global citizenship varies from person to person, and there is no “one way” to become a student of the world. Here are three big ways that you can start your global citizenship journey.

Join Community Organizations

You may not know it yet, but fellow global citizens are out there if you take a look around. You can find interest groups in your local area connected to global citizenship such as international service organizations, language groups, and food enthusiasts. Thanks to the internet, you don’t even need to be physically in the same place to meet others who are interested in world issues.

Travel Often and Intentionally

To understand the world, you’ve got to see the world. Travel can be so illuminating because when you expand your physical boundaries, you expand your mindset. When you do travel, go with the intent of learning something new or adjusting your perspective. Setting that intention before, during, and after travel will make the experience richer.

Make the Most of Learning Opportunities

Whether it’s time in school or time on an educational tour abroad, take advantage of new learning environments. Ask questions, stay curious, and don’t be afraid to challenge your previous opinions. The ACIS Global Citizenship Workshop provides a structured opportunity to explore these critical topics.

Sample selection from the ACIS Global Citizenship workshop

Group of ACIS Travelers (and Global Citizens) in Paris

What are the Responsibilities of a Global Citizen?

Being a global citizen means more than getting to go from place to place: It’s a continual act of growth and learning that asks each of us to see life on earth from different perspectives.

Some key sample responsibilities of a global citizen include:

  • Valuing the perspectives and cultures of others
  • Learning about new places whenever possible
  • Speaking up when diversity is limited
  • Addressing inequities at home and abroad
  • Working to bridge geographical and cultural gaps

Sample selection from the ACIS Global Citizenship workshop

The Benefits of Global Citizenship

The great news about being a global citizen is that everyone, including you, sees the rewards. Here are just some of our favorites:

  • You will get to interact with amazing individuals: There are some very cool humans in the world that you may not know, if only because of geographic or cultural barriers. Pursuing global citizenship creates opportunities for connection.
  • Increased empathy means less violence: For years, psychologists have been studying the importance of empathy in human development. Current studies show that the more empathy training a child experiences, the less likely they will be to express intolerance, while others have made a correlation between increased tolerance and decreased violence.
  • You will think more deeply: When you start examining the world around you – what unites us, what divides us – you gain tools to think critically and find deeper meaning in daily life.
  • Food becomes connection: Everyone in the world eats, and once you discover the ways food unites us, food becomes as much a celebration as it does an act of survival.
  • You will discover new parts of the globe: A huge benefit of global citizenship is actually getting to explore the globe! New places, new faces, and new experiences are a key ingredient in being a global citizen.

ACIS Group outside of the Soweto apartheid museum in South Africa

Why Traveling with ACIS Can Help With Your Global Citizenship Journey

The core mission at ACIS is to create the next generation of global citizens. We know that by traveling the world and learning from history, students can build tolerance, develop language skills, and see their place in their world from a new angle.

All of our educational tours are packed with Cultural Connections, hands-on activities designed to engage students in their unique international environments, but really, we have seen from decades of travel experience that just by being present in a new place, students learn about the value of global connection. For many it is the start of a lifelong travel obsession, a passion for languages, even new careers.

When you join an ACIS educational tour, global citizenship is part of the adventure.

We’d love to know what you think! Is Global Citizenship an initiative at your school? How are you tackling this important topic and making your students more globally aware in the process?

Sarah Bichsel

Sarah Bichsel

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe Now