Global Citizens, Global Learners 4. Philosophical Issues Revisited

Falk (1994) identified five categories of global citizens:

  1. global reformers
  2. elite global business people
  3. global environmental managers
  4. politically conscious regionalists
  5. transnational activists

Boltanski and Chiapello (2007) argue that global participants is a more accurate term than global citizens, since production and consumption are globally diffuse, national identity-eroding activities, and flows of resources and labour are increasingly transnational. Thus, global participation is both the result and product of a “new spirit of capitalism”.

Assuming they acquire the values and sympathise with the practices and objectives of their discipline, students of business will likely enter categories 2 and 3 of Falk’s taxonomy. Schattle (2009), however, adds a sixth: global educators.

Complicating any debate on presence and prominence is the persistence of multiple definitions of GC education (Heater, 2002). In response to the question of whether or not GC education is pure abstraction, Davies (2006) proposed a framework for action: it must be active engagement focused, and bridge the abstract and the practical. Such pragmatism is a basic tenet of operations and management in general. Similarly, Davies and Pike (2009) claim GC is a “constant process”. Notions of continual improvement are deeply articulated aspects of operations management.[1] Such points of conceptual convergence would receive emphasis in business studies curricula. According to Oxfam (2006), education for GC helps enable young people to develop “core competencies”[2] that enable them to make the world “more just and sustainable”.


[1] In management studies, the term “kaizen” is nowadays ubiquitous. The term was popularized in the west mainly by Ohno’s famous book (1978) on the Toyota Production System. This Japanese word (改善) is most commonly translated as “continuous improvement”.

[2] “Core competencies” is a term that originates in the business literature via a very influential article by Prahalad and Hamel (1990) on the differentiating capabilities of firms.

[3] I have successfully addressed this by methods such as repetitive mention of key terms and providing students with “jargon busters” and quizzes. Typically, these are A4 sheets onto which are printed short lists of terms with brief definitions.  Students draw lines to connect the terms with their correct definitions.