Imagine There's No Countries (Honors)
Politically, the people of the world are divided among more than 200 countries. National citizenship is one of the most important sources of social identity. Our “fellow countrymen” are often thought of as a sort of extended family to whom we owe important obligations, including sometimes the obligation to sacrifice our lives. For many centuries, though, people have questioned whether our loyalties and obligations should stop at national borders. Cosmopolitans have long argued that borders have no ultimate significance and that we owe duties potentially to all humanity. In the age of globalization, cosmopolitan arguments are increasingly important to consider. Advances in communications and transportation bring information about the rest of the world to our computer and television screens practically in real time. Advances in science allow us to track the impact of our everyday choices and actions on conditions in faraway place. This course will explore the arguments for a cosmopolitan approach to citizenship as well as arguments that we owe our first and most important obligations to our “fellow countrymen.” We will also look at the development of what has been called “global civil society,” especially the experience of non-governmental organizations (some based on this campus) that try to carry out notions of global citizenship by addressing issues like poverty, environmental sustainability, and human rights around the world. This course is intended to extend student inquiry from Pacific Seminar I into questions of society and citizenship of a good society, specifically what it would mean to be a global citizen.