Extending Global Citizenship – Policy Orientated Panel

By Michelle van Geffen

Kees Biekart opened this panel discussion and pointed out that the session would dwell upon what different perspectives existed on how to strengthen global citizenship, whether they differed and how we could learn from one another.

Huib Huyse (from HIVA) starts off by illustrating the shift of development support. We used to consider ‘passive support for development policies’ to be the indicator of citizen involvement with the world. Hence, support for traditional donation/donor relations. Here we see consensus with the second speaker Edith van Ewijk. Both argue the agenda has been broadened. Huib argues one of the main aspects of global citizenship is whether the public also has a critically outlook of aid activity and appreciates the other related concepts like the environmental sustainable aspects as part of the agenda. Edith however shifts the focus towards behaviour and attitude of citizens to be a determinate of global citizenship. Which interventions do already exist within this framework, and what can we learn from them?

Lebo Ramafoko gave a presentation of her approach/intervention of global citizenship promotion. She presented the initiative Kwanda (http://www.soulcity.org.za). A reality-TV-series (with a huge number of viewers) based around the idea: What would happen if people would come together and discuss real issues in their communities. The key message; let the communities themselves discuss their problems, possible solutions and initiate change. Hence, appreciate the complexity of the issues they face and in the meantime reach the masses with a complex message in a popular format by means of a reality show on national television.

NCDO also attempts to promote global citizenship through the magazine OneWorld, research reports (newspapers) and website. Through these platforms NCDO is able to reach the “already involved citizen”, the question is: is this enough? NCDO does recognize that an approach that goes beyond reaching out to individuals is of vital importance if behavioural change is the main objective. The magazine SAMSAM is a more structural approach to promote global citizenship, a magazine that reaches 420.000 pupils of primary schools.

Huib Huyse illustrated his view of global citizenship with an example of educational research from the UK. Here we see a clear divergence with the other speakers, a focus on structure instead of individuals. He contends that many efforts to promote global citizenship in the past focussed on the individual, while we should address and try to change structures. To illustrate, in his example of a school, he argues we should not only address the pupils (individuals) alone but also deal with school management, parents and so on.

So what can we learn from these interventions?
From Lebo we learn how to reach the masses. Huib points us to an important point that structural change is of vital importance to reach sustainable change. The problem with structural change however is: how to reach it? It might be in fact even more complex than reaching individuals. Edith and Huib agreed on the need to provide a layered message. In regard to the growing agenda of global citizenship, we need to think about the delivery mode, and utilize more diverse strategies.

Indeed when the audience posses the question to Lebo, if real change is achieved through her intervention? She argues; in my experience ‘Give everyone who wants to reach something a camera, suddenly counsellors will reach out to the community, wish to look good and make things happen. A problem I do recognise is that funding often requires rigid outcomes, while problems are complex, and our obsession with outcome, (…) interferes with real development. The process is more important than the outcome’. Here we come back to the importance of structure. Huib Huyse adds: indeed while there is a growing understanding that global citizenship entails more that the classical aid system, still the funding and other structures are geared towards the aid system. Edith agrees, and adds that the fact that we remain stuck in old structures of the aid system, leaves us in a frame of thinking where we only consider to transfer knowledge, which frustrates the potential of mutual learning.

Find more information at:
NCDO: http://www.ncdo.nl/englishand www.oneworld.nl/research
HIVA: www.hiva.be
Soulcity: http://www.soulcity.org.za
Moderator: Dr. Kees Biekart
Speakers: Lebo Ramafoko, Dr. Huib Huyse & Dr. Edith van Ewijk
Rapporteur: Michelle van Geffen, NCDO

Michelle van Geffen has a Master of Science in Strategic Studies and graduated also from the University of Warwick with a Master of Arts in International Relations. She is currently an Assistant Researcher at NCDO.