TC's Gaudelli: Global Citizenship Essential in Today's World | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation

TC's Gaudelli: Global Citizenship Essential in Today's World

At a UN-Sponsored Forum, the Associate Professor of Social Studies said global citizenship must be taught in the modern world.
William Gaudelli, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator of Social Studies and Education, participated in a panel discussion at the United Nations Feb. 20 on “Global Citizenship and the Future of the UN.” The discussion marked the publication of A Forum for Peace: Daisaku Ikeda’s Proposals to the UN, a collection of 30 years of peace proposals and recommendations for global change by Daisaku Ikeda, president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) Buddhist association.

The launch event was sponsored by the Alliance of Civilizations, a UN initiative to build bridges across religious, cultural, and other divides.

Gaudelli was among experts from the fields of education, disarmament, and diplomacy who offered their views on the connection between global citizenship, peace work, and education. In his remarks, Gaudelli cited Diogenes, the ancient Greek stoic who despite seeing “very little of the planet” famously declared himself “a citizen of the world.”

Perhaps Diogenes was naive, Gaudelli said. “But aren't we naive, too, to think that we who live in neatly divided countries with sharp borders could somehow come to think of ourselves as sharing a single planet and living as a single species?”

Gaudelli said that to face the many challenges in the modern world, including “infectious diseases, small arms trading, human slavery, global warming, [and] non-human animal extinctions,” we must act in “ways that promote peace, justice and ecological balance,” and “harmony, growth and mutuality” – and teach children to do the same.

To assist teachers in learning and thinking globally and, in turn, to help their students become global citizens, Gaudelli said TC, along with the Asia Society and the World Savvy organization, will soon launch a Global Competence Certificate program. The 15-month graduate program, which will start its first cohort of students in September 2014, is designed for working teachers as well as graduate students. It includes online courses about sustainability, economics, digital media, human rights and project-based learning taught by TC faculty and other thought leaders around the country. Program participants will also spend a few weeks visiting and working in a school with their global colleagues in places like Bangladesh, El Salvador and Tanzania during the summer.

“It is our hope that this effort will help encourage teachers in the US to be more open to the world and more thoughtful about how they live in it,” Gaudelli said. “It is our effort to enact this challenging, perhaps crazy idea of that wandering man Diogenes over two millennia ago who declared himself a world citizen.”

The discussion was chaired by former UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, who wrote the forward to the book, published by I.B. Tauris. The panel also included High Representative Nassir Adulaziz Al-Nasser of the Alliance of Civilizations; Tariq Hassan, chair of the board of SGI-USA; Olivier Urbain, editor of A Forum for Peace and director of the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research; Monte Joffee, founding principal of the Renaissance Charter School; and Nobel laureate Betty Williams, cofounder of Community of Peace People in Northern Ireland.

“We could sit all day here and glorify working for peace,” Williams said. “But it’s not a thing that should be glorified; it is a thing that should be done every single day of our lives.”

Published Monday, Mar. 3, 2014