Skip to comments.The World Citizen on Campus: For today’s college students, being American is so passé.
Posted on 03/14/2014 6:34:44 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Global citizenship is in fashion. In his July 2008 speech in Berlin, when Barack Obama was at the height of his European popularity, he announced himself a proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world. The formulation was meant to one-up President Kennedys Cold War Ich bin ein Berliner but hit a different note entirely. One was the voice of American statesmanship; the other, of a man turning his back on American exceptionalism.
The campus Left has found in the conceit of teaching students to be citizens of the world a new way of fostering a soft disdain for the American civic tradition. That disdain is now disguised as magnanimity: Students are enticed to feel open-hearted, broad-minded, and gently virtuous.
Ive been tracking the growth of global citizenship for a while, but only recently did I find an opportunity to see the World Citizen in his native environment, the liberal-arts curriculum. In 2011 I started an in-depth study of Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine. Bowdoins president repeatedly avows that the college is committed to preparing our students to become global citizens in a global economy. But before I get to Bowdoin, some context.
Like a lot of things that appeal to adolescents, global citizenship doesnt bear up very well under critical scrutiny. Taken literally, there can be no such thing as global citizenship. Citizenship requires something to be a citizen of, and that requires something not to be a citizen of. Global citizenship, of course, can be understood mostly as metaphor, and mostly as referring to the aspirations of young people to connect to the larger world beyond their hometowns. The college presidents and faculty members who promote the idea definitely appeal to these yearnings; thats part of what makes global citizenship such a beguiling idea. It answers a real need, one formerly filled by other ideals, such as advancing civil rights and promoting freedom.
My first encounter with global citizenship came in 2009, when, on a visit to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., I came across a nearly completed building for the Institute for Global Citizenship. This institute seeks to encourage students to become global citizen-leaders, and it intends to promote academic discourse on such matters, as well as meaningful service.
I began to read up on the new academic discipline. A contributor to a 2005 volume, Critical Globalization Studies, explained that nations are political fictions, and citizens merely the recognized legal subjects of these ghostly entities. Liberation requires world citizens who attain self-actualization and emancipation by stepping outside this frame.
Private Bradley Manning, currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for his 2010 theft of classified documents in the WikiLeaks case, is an example of someone liberated from the political fiction of the nation-state. He has been celebrated as an outstanding Citizen of the World by the Private Manning Support Network. Likewise, Mannings successor in massive theft of government secrets, Edward Snowden, is also being heralded by supporters as an outstanding Citizen of the World.
Theft of classified documents is condoned by relatively few proponents of global citizenship; yet global citizenship, whether they realize it or not, is an invitation to set aside the rule of law and the state in favor of whatever one chooses. World citizenship offers license but definitely not ordered liberty.
World citizenship at Bowdoin College is, on one level, just hot air, but it is much more than that. The term appears frequently in the college presidents speeches, where it serves as a justification for Bowdoins emphasis on diversity, multiculturalism, and sustainability and for its distaste for old-fashioned American values. When President Barry Mills saw a need to defend the colleges patriotism, he trumpeted a recent performance on campus by the Marine Band.
But when the last echoes of Sousa have faded, Bowdoin is silent on how its students learn to become good citizens of their own country. History majors at Bowdoin, for example, are not required to take a single course in American history. Why? Because, explained President Mills, students have taken American history in high school. English majors are not required to take a single course in American literature. The world citizens of Bowdoin are not required to study any foreign language. A religion professor was congratulated on receiving an award from thenIranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At the time (2009), Iran was supplying armaments to Iraqi insurgents with whom America was at war. No one on the Bowdoin campus paused to consider whether acceptance of the award, however inconsequential, served the interests of America.
Learning about America is an option at Bowdoin, but learning about global citizenship is unavoidable. Two of Bowdoins five distribution requirements aim to inculcate global citizenship. Students are required to take one course each in the areas of Exploring Social Differences and International Perspectives. There is no such requirement for anything dealing with Americas founding principles, commonalities, or culture.
Bowdoin, like President Obama, rejects the idea that America is an exceptional nation by virtue of its pursuit of freedom, self-government, and justice. President Mills has repeatedly offered an alternative: what he calls Bowdoin exceptionalism. This is the idea that the college, through its particular understanding of liberal-arts education, has achieved a position outside and above the cultural milieu of America.
On many campuses global citizenship has proven to be an effective tool to attract students to the Lefts vision of a new international order. Thats an international order that rejects the idea that the United States is good and that college graduates should strive to be statesmen who advance its principles.
The citizen of the world shrugs off these ideas and obligations, less in anger than in indifference. It is troubling that this fellow, his gaze cast wide over the Atlantic and to continents beyond, has become the moral exemplar at some of our best liberal-arts colleges. He may mean us well, but he does not serve us well.
Peter Wood is president of the National Association of Scholars.
Communist professors must be removed, one way or another.
But if they wait until they’re rich to renounce their citizenship, then they’re heroes.
Global Citizen is nothing more than Anti-American.
Just as “multiculturalism” is nothing more than anti-Western.
My guess is there are not a lot of “global” citizen programs in Russia, China, Iran, NK, Mexico etal. This strictly an anti west suicidal obsession be the liberal establishment.
There’s a root reason that the left is anti-Western Culture.
Because Western culture is based on Judeo-Christian morality,
which they oppose because they oppose the Truth.
The make-believe, Alice In Wonderland world of political correctness, is but one of the contemporary symptoms of the mindset being promoted.
100 years ago, there were no passports. You didn’t need documents to travel outside your country or to enter another country.
Exactly. When you break down everything the Left does, you clearly see their ultimately aim is the destruction of Christianity. It is their raison d’être.
RE: 100 years ago, there were no passports. You didnt need documents to travel outside your country or to enter another country.
Is that the world these college kids want to revert to?
“Is that the world these college kids want to revert to?”
Don’t know, but in some ways it was better.
Passports, in our part of the world, were first issued during the War for Independence.