Peggy Levitt sociologist, author and professor

CREATING GLOBAL CITIZENS 

(With Pál Nyíri) 

On January 7, 2015, the Kouachi brothers, born in France to Algerian parents, stormed the Paris offices of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people. This horrible crime followed on the heels of the Boston Marathon bombings, in which the Tsarnaev brothers, who spent their formative years in the U.S., killed 3 people and injured 264 others at the race’s finish line. In fact, the Kouachis and Tsarnaevs of the world have a lot of company. “More British Muslims,” proclaimed the New York Times, “have joined Islamist militant groups than serve in the country’s armed forces.” A young generation across the globe is growing up armed, alienated, and afraid, and turning to all kinds of religious fundamentalism in response. 

It’s not just terrorism we should be worried about it. Around the world, young people face dimmer prospects. Well-paying, secure jobs are harder to come by at the same time that social welfare is being scaled back. Middle and upper class young people, brought up to take social mobility for granted, will do no better, if not worse, then their parents. They have to compete in a global labor market and they are not sure how. For poor and working class families, particularly those of color, this is just business as usual. Economic restructuring, corruption, and police brutality, felt disproportionately in these communities whether they are in Pittsburgh or Pakistan, dims hopes of a bright future. The economic and cultural dominance of the West and stark economic and political inequality frustrate many young people before they even begin. 

If the promise of religious fundamentalism is so appealing, where are alternative narratives about tolerant global citizenship being articulated that might be equally attractive? Who creates them, for what kinds of audiences, and what kinds of young people are signing on? This book projects chronicles our travels around the world to look at places where the world is fighting back. Each chapter describes a different site where global values are communicated and spread—potential sites of global citizenship creation—including children’s television programming, international school curriculum and texts, religious and secular volunteer programs, the international world series, and world music concerts.