Growing numbers of scholars, activists, and ordinary citizens have become concerned about the implications of international trade and the multinational corporate economy for workers, the quality of personal and civic life, and for democracy in general. Citizens in many nations have begun to participate in activities contesting the human and environmental costs of trade and development regimes. Many of these citizen-activists have joined networks that cross national boundaries and forge connections across a range of issues, including: environmental protection, labor standards, human rights, fair trade and sustainable development. This movement toward transnational action presents an interesting and important moment in the evolution of citizenship and democratic institutions.
The Global Citizen
Project grew out of faculty and student work at the Center
for Communication and Civic Engagement at the University
of Washington. At CCCE we define civic engagement broadly to include all forms
of public activity giving people a voice in building community, advocating policy,
and advancing democratic values. These activities may be local, national, or global
in scope. CCCE is dedicated to understanding how communication processes of all
kinds -- classroom deliberations, news reporting, issue campaigns, digital information
channels, Internet action networks -- can promote more effective and satisfying
civic engagement. In our studies of communication and political action we began
to document forms of citizen identity, political action, communication, and political
organization that transcend traditional distinctions between local, national,
and global politics.
As a working definition, we propose that global
citizens are persons whose experience of membership, agency, or political cause
is global, or at least transnational. Global citizens find themselves affected
by transnational power arrangements and regulations, and they are trying to affect
government, corporate, and social policies in countries and contexts beyond their
The Global Citizen Project combines the interdisciplinary
perspectives of political economy, political sociology, political psychology,
and political communication to advance our understanding of transnational citizen
action. Of particular interest are uses of new communication technologies to bring
people into global networks that facilitate political organization and high quality
information exchange, and that magnify the effects of local political action.
Our aim is to develop student - faculty collaboration that integrates
the research and educational experience. We have established collaborations with
faculty and students from universities across the country and around the world.
We also develop partnerships with practitioners from the media and citizen groups
who are interested in exploring and evaluating new democratic practices. Our projects
explore the meanings and practices involved with communicating global citizenship
in different political, economic, and cultural contexts. From these studies and
projects we hope to gain a fuller appreciation of what it means to be a democratic
citizen in a rapidly changing and increasingly interdependent world.