Thursday, September 25, 2014

World House: Fostering a Global Citizen

by Claire Salinas, History Scholar and Humanities Council Programs Volunteer

In 1967, Martin Luther King challenged Americans to see themselves as dwellers in a “world house” of international neighbors, “a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, and class.” First evoked in his 1964 acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, the vision of a “World House” called for a more peaceful society in which the pursuit of justice transcended the boundaries of local belonging. To end “the triple evils of racism, poverty, and militarism” on a global scale both demanded and forged, inexorably, a global citizenry.

Five decades on, it is a commonplace to describe our 21st century world as inter-connected, shaped by the global currents of trade, communications, militarism, and political protest. What, then, are the implications of global citizenship in 2014? Are we all global citizens by virtue of living in this era, or does the notion imply a more intentional outlook and fundamental shared ethical values, such as those Dr. King ascribed to it?

We think these questions resonate especially deeply in the international, globally-connected city that is DC, with its well-travelled inhabitants. And we want to hear from you! What does being a global citizen mean to you? In what ways do you consider yourself to be a global citizen? To start thinking about these issues, have a look at the short reading and questions below, and leave us your comments, questions, and reactions. Then join us for the discussion with panelists Rachel Weiner, Elizabeth Ogunwo, both former Peace Corps volunteers, and GWU Anthropology professor Robert Shepherd. Let’s start a global dialogue!

When: October 16, 6:30-8:30pm
Where: The Coupe (3415 11th St NW)

1.      What are some of the attributes of the global citizen? What role does travel play in shaping global citizens? What are the benefits of being a well-travelled person, and how does it increase our understanding of, and concern for, humanity?
2.      Do global citizens have a responsibility to uphold common humanity and dignity on a global scale? Do the world’s wealthy citizens (Americans and others) have an ethical duty to end extreme inequities and injustices, such as poverty and racism?
3.     What must we teach students and others to make them truly and effectively globally connected, and able to interact easily and skillfully anywhere and with anyone?

4.     What does studying or promoting the humanities bring to being a world citizen?