Global Citizenship Annual Theme Nominations, 2013–14
We will soon invite the students, faculty, and staff of Santa Monica College to help us select our next annual Global Citizenship theme. This selection again will be made via an online vote, during the last two weeks of November. In preparing the ballot, the Global Citizenship Committee will begin with previous years' unselected nominees (listed below), all of which have received a lot of support. But we'd also like to consider additional ideas, and this is the place to share those ideas. Please submit your suggestions by Noon, Monday, November 5, so that we may consider them.
Communication and Community: the human web of information, ideas, and identities
The historians William and J. R. McNeill present world history as the story of "The Human Web". From our distant Stone Age origins to the revolutionary present of our digital Information Age, human history has been shaped by the many webs of knowledge and ideas that channel and coordinate our actions and ambitions. Communication is the material of the Human Web, which incorporates both the most ancient and most modern aspects of our humanity. While the technologies and the possibilities embedded in the likes of Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia, are new, our means of symbolic communication via song, dance, mathematics, spoken language, the written word, and the printed image connect us to our earliest human origins, as well as to each other. Our means of communication illustrate the boundless extent of our human creativity and our cultural diversity, while simultaneously offering the possibility for striking a common chord or building a lingua franca shared by communities both local and global, large and small.
Migrations: crossing boundaries and changing worlds
Like many of our fellow inhabitants of Earth, human beings are a mobile species. We commute daily. We travel seasonally. Many of us make a lifelong journey from one home to another. As we relocate, we never completely lose connection with the places we leave behind, while nonetheless adapting to our new surroundings. Meanwhile, many others are migrating around us, and each of those migrations reshapes and redefines the places in which we have settled. When such change is deemed threatening, we respond by building thicker walls and taller fences in an attempt to plug the holes in our ever-more-porous-seeming borders, but these actions increasingly seem anachronistic in a time of global mobility, expanding personal liberty, and cosmopolitan notions of human unity.
Peace, Conflict, and Security
In San Francisco, 25 June 1945, delegates from around the world signed the Charter for the United Nations. Among the goals stated in this document are to "practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security." Needless to say, these goals elude us. What are the sources of our conflicts--from the interpersonal to the international--and of the all-too-often violent means with which we try to resolve them? How do we define peace? Or security? How do modern science and technology complicate issues of peace and security, even while potentially offering us means for resolving conflict and promoting peace and security in non-violent ways?
The Search for Truth: faith, reason, values, belief
The modern age is a secular age. Guided by our human faculties of observation and reasoning, we are children of the Enlightenment engaged in a global project to improve living conditions for all humankind. Yet, even after setting aside the obviously incomplete status of that project, we wonder if this is enough. What about our core values? From where do they spring? Thus it is that an otherwise very secular list of colonial grievances--the U.S. Declaration of Independence--began with an appeal to our Creator-endowed unalienable rights. The United Nations Charter likewise spoke of an affirmed "faith in fundamental human rights," and the UN’s revered second Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, famously remarked, "Unless there is spiritual renaissance, the world will know no peace." The challenge, of course, is that there is no universal path to spiritual enlightenment, and far too many efforts to build a spiritual foundation for modern life end up being perverse steps toward a global "endarkenment". And if there is no singular Truth to which we can all subscribe, what can we find as our common ground? What we believe, and how and why we believe what we believe, are eternal questions. In a global age, these questions become no easier to answer, but perhaps far more important that they be posed.