What is Global Citizenship Education?

According to the Global Citizenship Foundation, Global Citizenship Education (GCED) can be defined as a transformative, lifelong pursuit that involves both curricular learning and practical experience to shape a mindset to care for humanity and the planet, and to equip individuals with global competencies to undertake responsible actions aimed at forging more just, peaceful, secure, sustainable, tolerant and inclusive societies.

GCED is an approach to education that helps individuals to develop the skills, knowledge and values they need to become active, responsible, and responsive citizens who contribute to building more peaceful, just and sustainable societies.

What are the Conceptual Dimensions of Global Citizenship Education?

According to the UNESCO, Global Citizenship Education covers three conceptual dimensions or domains of learning:

It is important for educators to understand all three dimensions in order to create a holistic learning experience for their students.

The knowledge or cognitive dimension of GCED focuses on developing knowledge about global citizenship, such as understanding human rights, social justice, and sustainable development.

The socio-emotional learning or affective dimension focuses on developing positive attitudes and values related to global citizenship, such as respect for diversity, empathy, and solidarity. 

The behavioral or psychomotor dimension focuses on developing the skills and competencies needed to take action as a global citizen, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and effective communication.

How can you become a global citizen?

A Global Citizen is someone who is open-minded, curious, compassionate, collaborative, co-creative, inclusive, non-discriminatory, responsible, reflective, and well-informed individual. To be a global citizen it is not necessary travel to different countries or know multiple languages.

Becoming a global citizen is a lifelong learning process that requires continuous reflection of our perspectives. To become a global citizen means one is a life-long learner ready to learn, unlearn, and relearn. A global citizen is someone who is aware and acknowledges the multiple concentric identities that transcend geographical or political boundaries and takes action towards human and planetary flourishing.

One can be and become a Global Citizen even without traveling to other country or speaking another language. Global Citizenship is all about our mindsets and our actions. To become a global citizen one needs to develop empathy, compassion, mindfulness, and critical inquiry towards issues, challenges, conflicts involving other human beings.

A Global Citizen neither has a passport or official status but becomes part of this broader membership, simply by taking an active and reflective actions in their communities towards shaping a more inclusive, just, equitable, peaceful, secure, sustainable world for all.

Why teach Global Citizenship Education?

The world as we know it today is marred with conflicts, challenges, catastrophes, and crises that need our immediate attention. Climate change, poverty, illiteracy, hunger, violent extremism, and xenophobia are but a few of the many issues that the world continues to grapple with, even today. Global citizenship is a call to action — for people to come together in realizing their role and shared responsibilities of protecting the planet, fostering peace, ensuring global prosperity, respecting diversity, and advancing humanity through partnerships. We believe there is no global without local and as Mahatma Gandhi said ‘If you want to change the world, start with yourself.’

Global Citizenship Education provides a lens to view issues and challenges through, what we at the Global Citizenship Foundation call as “Two-Systems Thinking”. Where you “Think and Act, both global and local” instead of just “Thinking Global and Acting Local”. Global Citizenship Education aims to instill in learners the values, attitudes and behaviors that support responsible global citizenship.

Our Case for Global Citizenship Education

The concept of Global Citizenship is an old idea, and global leaders, educators, and practitioners recognize that the concept of Global Citizenship is relevant today more than ever. Global Citizenship Education inspires and empowers individuals to:

As a result, Global Citizenship Education also prevents generations from the scourge of hate, radicalization, extremism, and violence. Thereby, inspiring learners to be part of the solution to the problems faced across the planet.

Impetus on Global Education

The Education 2030 Agenda and Framework for Action, notably Target 4.7 of the Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education, mandates the fostering of Education for Global Citizenship by calling on countries to “ensure that all learners are provided with the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”.

Importance of SDG 4.7

Target 4.7 of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4 intends to realize the social, humanistic and moral purposes of education.Target 4.7 is a passport to ensuring Quality Education, preparing young people for life. It explicitly links education to other SDGs and captures the transformative aspirations of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

Role of Educational Institutions in Fulfilling the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 4 and Target 4.7

The concept of global citizenship is embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals through SDG 4: Ensuring Inclusive and Quality Education for All and Promote Life Long Learning, which includes global citizenship as one of its targets.

By 2030, the international community has agreed to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including global citizenship.

Educational Institutions have a responsibility to promote global citizenship by fostering in educators and learners that they are members of both their local and larger global community and can use their skills and education to contribute towards these communities.

Our Whole-Child GCED Framework

The Framework that guides us in fostering Global Citizenship Education in formal and non formal education systems include:

The maxim "Think Global, Act Local" perhaps best suits the last century. This century demands that we develop two-systems thinking. That is to "Think and Act Both Local and Global."
— Aaryan Salman, President, Global Citizenship Foundation

Global Citizenship is Inspired by Ancient Wisdom

The philosophy of global citizenship across cultures and civilizations…

African Philosophy

umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu

(In Zulu Language)

Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning "humanity towards others" or "I am because of who we all are".

Indian Philosophy

अयं निज: परो वेति गणना लघुचेतसाम् ।
उदारचरितानां तु वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् ॥

—Hitopadesha: 1.3.71

"Ayam nijaH paro veti gaNanaa laghuchetasaam udaaracharitaam tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam"

The thought that one person is related to me and another is not is that of the narrow-minded. For the broadminded, however, the whole world is one family.


仁 (Ren: “two-man-mindedness”)

—Analects of Confucius

Definition: “Wishing to be established oneself, seeks also to establish others; wishing to be enlarged oneself, seeks also to enlarge others.”Relationship between two humans: humanity, benevolence

South American Philosophy

sumak kawsay

(In Quechua Language)

In Quechua Sumak Kawsay roughly translates into “good living” or the “good life,” however it means much deeper than this. Throughout South America, it is a way of living in harmony within communities, ourselves, and most importantly, nature.


"I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world."

—Plutarch, Of Banishment

Throughout the history of humankind, many people including Socrates declared to be citizens of the Earth.