• University of Bristol

Unleash Your Potential: Global Citizenship

Get an introduction to what it means to be a global citizen and the opportunities it creates.

13,715 enrolled on this course

Unleash Your Potential: Global Citizenship

Find out how to make a difference on a global scale

As our world continues to face some grand challenges, how can we act as global citizens to create a fairer society for all?

Get an introduction to what global citizenship is, and what it means to be part of a global community, with this online course from the University of Bristol.

You’ll explore approaches to globalization and citizenship, and the opportunities and challenges that a global community creates.

You’ll learn about global inequalities in healthcare, science and technology, and the tensions between local and global issues.

Finally, you’ll find out what you can do to make an impact.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds What does it mean to be a global citizen? It’s easy to think that with the growth of the internet and social media, that whether we like it or not, we have all become global citizens. But is that really the case? Doesn’t the concept of citizenship relate to our place in a local or national community? Can we extend that notion to help us to understand, our place in the wider world?

Skip to 0 minutes and 40 seconds And what about the millions of people who don’t have access to technology? Global citizenship is a notoriously difficult concept to define and therefore we have approached it through an exploration of some key questions. What makes someone a citizen? How can we care equally about those physically closest to us, as well as those on the other side of the world? Is it our similarities or our differences that define us? Can we really think local and act global? Over the course of four weeks we’ll hear from over 16 experts and explore the tensions, challenges and opportunities that come from thinking about global citizenship.

Skip to 1 minute and 23 seconds We’ll cover a range of complex and challenging topics, including religion, climate change, peace and conflict and equality, in order to help us consider what it means to be a global citizen and how you can make a difference in the world.


  • Week 1

    What Does it Mean to be a Global Citizen?

    • Introduction to the course

      Welcome to the course. Before we get started, we'll explain how the course will work, and you can tell us a bit about yourself, and why you are interested in these ideas.

    • An ethic of "care for the world" Hannah Arendt

      This week examines the idea of global citizenship, first by looking at what it might entail, and then exploring some of the challenges that arise from seeking to be an active and responsible citizen of the world. ©F.Stein/Getty

    • Citizenship: What does it entail and can it be global?

      To start the course, we talk to Dr Mark Allinson about the idea of global citizenship, what it meant historically and what it means today. How can we act globally when it comes to big, complex or abstract ideas?

    • Equality and Difference: How can we approach global challenges?

      Here, Dr Madhu Krishnan presents the ideas of difference and diversity, and encourages you to question the idea of cultural relativism. Should we have a universal agreement on what is and isn't culturally acceptable?

    • Peace and Conflict: The challenges of global responses and responsibilities

      As global citizens, how should we respond to violence when we witness it in other nations? In his discussion of sovereignty, Eirik explores two competing notions: state sovereignty and fundamental human rights. Image ©ICJ

    • Weekly Wrapup

      An overview of this week's themes, and a recap of all the ways you can get involved and take action.

  • Week 2

    Social and Economic Global Issues and Challenges

    • "There's a moment when you have to choose whether to be silent or to stand up" Malala Yousafzai

      In Week 2 we will investigate some of the key social and economic challenges facing the world today, by exploring ideas of identity and belonging, and the tensions between global and local needs and actions. Image ©DFID CC2.0

    • Forming Societies: The role of nations and nationalism

      To start this week, Dr James Hawkey examines the ideas of nation and nationalism, focusing in on one particular tool that is arguably indispensable in distinguishing one nation from another: language.

    • Connected World: The relationships and tensions between the local and the global

      Language is one way to forge national identity and belonging. Here, we explore a case study of when local heritage and a minority language is threatened by global and national directives and actions.

    • Demographic Challenges: Migration and the issues surrounding inequalities in wealth and resources

      Travelling is one way to join the global community.Yet, all countries restrict access to their borders, often based on why people move. Are there 'good' and ‘bad’ reasons? What happens to those rejected, or who never make it?

    • Weekly Wrapup

      An overview of this week's themes, and a recap of all the ways you can get involved and take action.

  • Week 3

    Global Challenges in Science, Health and Technology

    • "It always seems impossible until it is done" Nelson Mandela

      This week we tackle three issues that affect the world across national borders: health, climate change, and technological advancement. How can the world collaborate, share information and promote wellbeing, as a global community?

    • Global Health Challenges: How can we make a difference?

      Matthew introduces the data behind global health challenges, particularly related to infant and child mortality, and discusses how it is being addressed on a local and global scale. Image © SEARCH, Gadchiroli (all rights reserved)

    • Climate Change: The physical challenges of a changing planet

      In this section, Rachel Flecker and Jo House tackle the subject of climate change. We'll be looking at causes and effects, as well as what's being done around the globe to work towards a more sustainable future.

    • Technological Advances: To share or not to share?

      In this section, we will explore the difficult and complex decisions around the sharing of new technology and ideas, from industry and engineering through open access in academic research to sharing medical advancements.

    • Weekly Wrapup

      An overview of this week's themes, and a recap of all the ways you can get involved and take action.

  • Week 4

    Cultural and Political Global Issues and Challenges

    • "A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm" Henrik Ibsen

      This week we explore some of the challenges that come from increased global connectivity as values and beliefs come into conflict in new circumstances and where new solutions to some of our oldest concerns need to be found.

    • Freedom of Speech: Is it a basic human right?

      This week starts with a fundamental question: should freedom of speech always be seen as a human right, even when that speech causes harm? We explore historic cases, and then ask how it is relevant in your life today. ©ABauerCC2.0

    • The Religious and the Secular: Past, present and future

      Freedom of speech is often intertwined with other freedoms, eg freedom of religion. But this is also contentious. How public should religion be? What about for state leaders? Is religion really separate from the state at all?

    • Democracy and citizenship: the issues and challenges of our global age

      The idea of having a political voice is often seen in conjunction with democracy. But is democracy truly ‘democratic’, does it actually give (everyone) a political voice? Are we as democratic as we like to think? ©Rama CC2.0fr

    • Weekly Wrapup

      An overview of this week's themes, and a recap of all the ways you can get involved and take action.

    • We've made it to the end: let's review, and consider what's next

      Now we're at the end of the course, let's wrap things up and think about where to go from here.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Develop an understanding of what global citizenship might involve through the exploration of some of the key current, multidisciplinary, global issues and concerns.
  • Engage with the cultural and political challenges that come from global interactions.
  • Explore the fundamental issues of some of the key social, cultural and economic challenges facing the world today.
  • Investigate how to get involved in practical ways at local, national and international levels in ways that aim to make a positive difference in the world.
  • Debate three different areas of specific health, scientific and technological challenge.

Who is the course for?

This course is aimed at anyone interested in globalization and citizenship, but may be of particular interest to students who are looking to develop their transferable skills for the workplace and general day-to-day life.

Who will you learn with?

Senior Teaching Fellow in Digital Education
in the Faculty of Arts
at the University of Bristol

@gloriavisi (#FLculture)

I am an academic at the University of Bristol in the School of Modern Languages. I specialise in the intellectual and cultural history and literature of Spain and Catalonia.

Who developed the course?

University of Bristol

University of Bristol is one of the leading institutions among the UK’s Russell Group of universities and is recognised for its research and academic excellence.

Learning on FutureLearn

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