Reexamining Global Citizenship

Is this Stetson core value a champion of progress or a feeble distraction?


Graphic by Choonghee Hahn

Jay Stearman, Opinion Staff

Of all the enumerated Stetson values, perhaps none is more curious than Global Citizenship. It evokes feelings of sophistication and awareness. It sounds progressive, contemporary, and the right amount of ambiguous. Global Citizenship, one of Stetson’s “Core Values,” so it is placed alongside Personal and Social Responsibility, Intellectual Development, and Personal Growth.


In light of Steson’s values day and the CCE’s Global Citizenship Fair, some professors in the Economics and Political Science departments have invited students to critically examine exactly what being a global citizen actually looks like. On its face, stressing this value sounds like an invitation to Internationalize your perspective, after all the university and its donors strongly encourage study abroad semesters and summer trips to Latin America and Europe. But what worries me is that adding global in front of citizenship distracts from the term “citizenship” itself, which, although somewhat vague in of itself, is typically interpreted to mean the rights, privileges, and duties of a community member. 


And while I do very much appreciate the efforts of the Stetson community to engage in globally conscious activities e.g. International Peace Day, International Coastal Cleanup, I really do get hung up on the citizenship aspect. I’m in the school of thought that change, especially social, political, and environmental is best made and most readily responded to when it occurs locally. We are better equipped to save Painter’s Pond from destruction than the Amazon. As students, are we being primed too heavily on global struggles rather than domestic ones? 


Yes, while Hong Kong is experiencing an exhilarating protest advocating for democracy in a region of the world where it is one of the most threatened, the citizens of Flint, Michigan still do not have safe water to bathe in or drink from. Which threats to human decency deserve our attention and support more? After all, while Stetson’s values (Global Citizenship included) were being showcased, spread, and celebrated last Tuesday, it looks like National Voter Registration Day (4th Tuesday of each September) fell to the wayside. Oops.