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«Global Citizen – Challenges and Responsibility in an Interconnected World Aksel Braanen Sterri (Ed.) Global Citizen – Challenges and ...»

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Global Citizen –

Challenges and

Responsibility in an

Interconnected World

Aksel Braanen Sterri (Ed.)

Global Citizen – Challenges and Responsibility

in an Interconnected World


Volume 3

Series Editor

Halla B. Holmarsdottir, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway

International Advisory Board

Karen Biraimah, University of Central Florida, USA Heidi Biseth, Buskerud University College, Norway Joan DeJaeghere, University of Minnesota, USA Zubeida Desai, University of the Western Cape, South Africa Alawia Farag, Ahfad University for Women, Sudan Fatma Gok, Bogazici University, Turkey Lihong Huang, Norwegian Social Research (NOVA) Institute, Norway Suzanne Majhanovich, University of Western Ontario, Canada Diane Napier, University of Georgia, USA Vuyokazi Nomlomo, University of the Western Cape, South Africa Gerald Ouma, University of Pretoria, South Africa Adila Pašalić-Kreso, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina Yusuf Sayed, University of Sussex, UK New Research – New Voices involves two strands, leaving open the possibility of others as

the series grows:

Strand 1: New Voices and New Knowledge in Research Methodology This strand in the book series is dedicated to producing cutting-edge titles focusing on Research Methodology. While it might be generally acknowledged that educational researchers often tend to import methods developed in neighboring disciplines, this is not always acknowledged in the literature on methodology. This series intends to contribute to the knowledge foundation in educational research by specifically seeking out those who work both across disciplines and inter-disciplinary in terms of their methodological approaches. The overall focus is to develop a series focusing on those methods which are appropriate in dealing with the specific research problems of the discipline.

The series provides students and scholars with state-of-the-art scholarship on methodology, methods and techniques focusing on a range of research topics. It comprises innovative and intellectually rigorous monographs and edited collections which bridge schools of thought and cross the boundaries of conventional approaches. The series covers a broad range of issues focusing on not only empirical-analytical and interpretive approaches, but moreover on micro and macro studies, and quantitative and qualitative methods.

Strand 2: New Voices and New Knowledge in Educational Research This part of the series will focus on theoretical and empirical contributions that are unique and will provide important insights into the field of educational research across a range of contexts globally. This part of the series will collectively communicate new voices, new insights and new possibilities within the field of educational research. In particular the focus will be on scholars, students and communities that have often been excluded or marginalized within educational research and practice.

Global Citizen – Challenges and Responsibility in an Interconnected World Edited by Aksel Braanen Sterri University of Oslo, Norway A C.I.P. record for this book is available from the Library of Congress.

ISBN: 978-94-6209-927-2 (paperback) ISBN: 978-94-6209-928-9 (hardback) ISBN: 978-94-6209-929-6 (e-book) Published by: Sense Publishers, P.O. Box 21858, 3001 AW Rotterdam, The Netherlands https://www.sensepublishers.com/ Cover image: © Per Krogh/BONO 2014 Printed on acid-free paper All Rights Reserved © 2014 Sense Publishers No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microfilming, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the Publisher, with the exception of any material supplied specifically for the purpose of being entered and executed on a computer system, for exclusive use by the purchaser of the work.


–  –  –

6. Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights – Or Gender Equality? 47 Johanne Sundby

7. Global Citizenship and the Challenge from Cultural Relativism 53 Thomas Hylland Eriksen

–  –  –

The origin of this volume is the Global Citizens public lecture series held at the University of Oslo in the fall of 2012. The aim of the series was to spread awareness among students of our global challenges and discuss the responsibility we have as citizens in a global world.

Knut Kjeldstadli, Nina Witoszek, Karen O’Brien, Halvor Moxnes, Janicke Heldal Stray, Thomas Hylland Eriksen and Dan Banik, which all contributed to this book, held lectures as part of this series. I am grateful for their participation in both the lecture series and this volume. I am also thankful for the contributions from Evelin Lindner, Johanne Sundby, Andreas Føllesdal and Helge Hveem, who contributed on short notice with articles of their own to make this anthology something to be proud of. I have surely learnt a lot from them all.

This volume would not have been written, even less published, if it had not been for several people, and they all deserve thanks: Gøril Mellem for being responsible for the lecture series, and rector of the University of Oslo Ole Petter Ottersen and former vice-rector Inga Bostad for giving me the opportunity to be editor of this volume. All the participants deserve great thanks, not only for contributing their texts but also for all their patience.

Thanks also to Sense Publishers and especially Jolanda Karada for great help in putting this book together. Anders Lundell at the University of Oslo deserves special thanks. Besides proofreading and making sure I made the deadlines, without his initiative and great job coordinating with the publisher, this book would not have been published in this form.

All lectures in the lecture series are available for free on YouTube.

Aksel Braanen Sterri Oslo, 15 November 2014

–  –  –

The world must have looked small to the great economist John Maynard Keynes.

Before the outbreak of the First World War, in the famous essay The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919), he writes: “The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, in such quantity as he might see fit, and reasonably expect their early delivery upon his doorstep.” This is nothing compared to the connectedness of our days. We have never been richer, more enlightened, had better health or been more educated than now. Much of that has its roots in the interconnectedness of the world we live in.

Still, as anyone who pays at least marginal attention to the state of affairs, knows the global challenges we face are enormous. Yet, at present, we lack the solidarity, the motivations and the institutions to solve them.

Some scientists say we live in “the Anthropocene”: “the first period in geological history defined by the significant impact of human activities on the Earth system”, as Karen O’ Brien puts it in this volume. Trade, production and consumption, the same activities that bring us our prosperity, are the causes of our problems. The most pressing challenge is the unsustainable omission of CO2 in the atmosphere. It threatens to make life miserable for humans, but may have worse consequences for the species that share our planet. As sociobiologist Edward Wilson argues in The Meaning of Human Existence (2014) “a large number of species get extinct before they are discovered”. He prefers the term “Eromocene”, the Age of Loneliness.

The negative effects of our present behavior are not isolated to the ecological system. This was made clear when the financial crisis brought the economic system close to a collapse in 2008. This was a crisis that we were unable to prevent, and it is far from certain that we will be able to predict and prevent the next one. The spread of ebola in the fall 2014 is just a minor and most recent example of the health risks we face when people, services and products can move freely across borders, and in the beginning of the 21st century everyone has come to be familiar with the threat of global terrorism. As citizens of the world noticed in the fall of 1914, the state of affairs can change rapidly. The ability to cross borders can in one moment be a blessing, and in the next one create disasters that are felt far from its origin.

Luckily, the causes of our problems are also the solution: human action and innovation. This, however, requires a global perspective on the way we live our lives. How we, as global citizens, can make a difference is the question we set out to explore in this volume.

–  –  –

The modern nation-state evolved as an efficient tool for handling free rider and collective action problems. By enforcing civil, political and social rights, the modern state has secured its citizens against a whole set of risks, such as homicide and other forms of physical violence, sickness, unemployment, disagreement over property, pollution and other externalities. In short, it is an attempt to remove us from the brutal, short, nasty and solitary life of the Hobbesian state of nature (e.g. Pinker 2011). Now we face the same problems at a different scale. Climate change is the most pressing example of a collective action problem. As every economist will tell you, if you can adjust the price so that everyone bears the total costs of their actions, we can put an end to the man made part of the global warming. But who sets the price in a global society without a legitimate authority where polluters in Norway can harm people in Indonesia who face more extreme climate, higher temperature and rising water levels? This is one of the common themes of the chapters in this book.

A useful distinction between globalization from below and above is drawn by Halvor Moxnes in his chapter on global utopia. Some argue that we need more collaboration between states and better institutions at the global level, “globalization from above”. Some argue that we as citizens should take responsibility for global action, “globalization from below”. As the contributors make clear, we need both.

In his chapter, Moxnes suggests that we as citizens in a global world need a “vision of the global world as a human community”. When we see ourselves as part of a “global civil society” or a “world people”, we can make meaningful changes.

Today, big transnational corporations and the most powerful nation-states will get their will. To counter their domination we need social movements that can act to the benefit of those people who have to live with the consequences of today’s policymaking, or the lack thereof. Within the nation-state, social movements have shown that they can make great and important changes in their societies. For global social movements to be effective and legitimate, Moxnes argues, they need to have a shared goal, a vision, or a utopia. In the words of Jesus, Moxnes finds a vision for the future: “It is in the needs of the human community that must control the economy so that the global economy does not make global community inhuman.” Drawing on the German sociologist Jürgen Habermas, he argues that we need to “create a sense of world solidarity and the corresponding political practice that presently exist on a national level as solidarity among citizens.” Evelin Lindner is a truly global citizen and founding president of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies network and co-founder of the World Dignity University initiative. She takes the bottom-up approach seriously. Her message to us in the chapter Living Globally: Global Citizenship of Care as Personal Practice is clear: “being born in Norway [or other Western countries] is a privilege that carries a responsibility.” Her message is a damning critique of the way most of us live our lives, in our “shopping-mall Kindergarten bubble”. Lindner asks of us to adopt x


the same humility that has made it possible for her to connect with people from different backgrounds. Rather than seeing diversity as a threat, we need to embrace “unity in diversity”. This aligns well with Thomas Hylland Eriksen’s position in this volume. In his view, cosmopolitanism should not be about Western intellectuals and political leaders trying to universalize Western values. Drawing on Immanuel Kant’s cosmopolitanism, he argues that we need “civilized encounters across cultural boundaries”: “Cosmopolitanism … is not a moral universalism. Rather it entails an insistence on dialogue and respect even – or perhaps especially – when differences are profound and fundamental.”


How far can we extend respect and dialogue? Given the fact that people live in a way that threatens the survival of our species, how much respect do they deserve?

In the chapter The Idea of Global Citizenship in the Age of Ecomodernity, Nina Witoszek argues that we need to confront the fact that “cosmopolitanism is in conflict with deeply felt religion, patriotism and nationalism, and it would be silly and vapid to pretend that is not.” To be global citizens might be an appealing idea to globetrotting academics – like the sociologists Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens.

But on the ground, the prospect for a cosmopolitan and global ethics in today’s political climate looks bleak. Growing unemployment and insecurity, coupled with immigration concerns in both developed and developing countries, give rise to nationalist parties and extreme, parochial movements. Witoszek suggests another route towards a solution to our global challenges. We need to situate our effort to make global change locally, where we have our roots. Drawing on political scientist Elinor Ostrom and sociobiologist Edward Wilson, Witoszek argues that it is the close-knit societies that have the capability to solve collective action problems.

Most people have a stronger sense of obligation towards the ones that are close, and are not motivated by “United Nations’ talk” about sustainable development. Even though the problems are global, the motivation has to come from individuals who necessarily will be rooted in their local context. It is here we can find motivation for action.

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