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Introduction to Week 1

In this video, Dr Sally-Ann Kitts introduces you to what we'll be learning in week 1 of 'Global Citizenship'.
This is the old council chamber, inside the Wills Memorial Building at the University of Bristol. It is home to the Schools of Law and Earth Sciences, and the location for many public events as well as the University’s twice-yearly series of graduation ceremonies. It stands at the top of a hill in Bristol, just up from the City Hall and, as you can see, is surrounded not just by other university buildings but by the shops, restaurants, schools, hospitals, homes and businesses that make up this quarter of the vibrant city community that is Bristol.
This opening week of the course is rooted in this notion of community, a term that the Oxford English Dictionary defines in very many different ways all of which, however, have in common precisely this idea of commonality, of something shared or joint.
My three colleagues that will share their thoughts and ideas with you this week, Dr Mark Allinson, Dr Madhu Krishnan and Dr Eirik Bjorge, are all concerned with aspects of the possibilities and challenges that come from the fact of our living together in communities.
In ‘Citizenship: What does it entail and can it be global?’, Mark discusses the origins of the terms ‘citizen’ and ‘citizenship’, in seeking to define the relationship between the individual and her or his community. In an increasingly dynamic global context, he asks what we can learn from what have often been negative forms of global engagement in the past, in order to develop an ethos of partnership that will help us to face the many challenges ahead.
In ‘Equality and Difference: how should we approach global challenges?’, Madhu discusses the meanings of and tensions around these key terms. She considers the value of the concept of equity, as we seek to balance these two terms, and raises questions about the often competing notions of cultural relativism and universal human rights.
In ‘Peace and Conflict: the challenges of global responses and responsibilities’, Eirik approaches the very real and fraught issues around humanitarian intervention. As global citizens, how should we respond to violence when we witness it being perpetrated by a state on its own citizens? In his discussion of sovereignty, like Madhu he explores two competing notions that, in this case, are both specifically enshrined in the UN Charter,
and yet frequently come into conflict: state sovereignty and the fundamental rights of all humans. By the end of the week, our aim is that you will have been able to reflect productively on some of the sorts of questions we all need to consider, and the sorts of perspectives we should all look to gain, when thinking about the challenges facing the world today. You will have identified some of the overriding issues that, in our aim to be effective, active and ethically-aware global citizens, we need to engage with and understand if we are to be able to begin to do, as Hannah Arendt argues, really ‘care for the world’, and make a positive difference in it.

Welcome to the first week of the course.

This week, we are going to explore some of the fundamental concepts that we need to engage with in order to understand our possibilities and responsibilities as global citizens.

We will consider the meaning of citizenship and our place as individuals within local, national and international communities. We reflect on the sorts of questions we need to consider, and the sorts of perspectives we should look to gain, when thinking about the challenges facing the world today.

First watch the introductory video above by Dr Sally-Ann Kitts, who will be your guide throughout the course over the next four weeks. On the next page, you will get to know the three academics you will be learning with this week a little better.

Before you move on, think about what you are expecting from this week or what you are most looking forward to learning about or discussing. Write a few thoughts in the comments below, and see what everyone else is hoping to get from this week of learning.

Top Tip:

Remember to click the ‘Mark as Complete’ button on this page, in order to keep track of your progress in your ‘To Do’ list (found as a tab at the top of the page).
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