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 own nations.

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.