n South African Journal of Higher Education - Educating for democratic citizenship and cosmopolitanism

Volume 21, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Over the past century our world has witnessed much uncertainty and ambivalence as a consequence of inhumane acts perpetrated against humanity such as murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, persecution on political, racial or religious grounds, war crimes (mistreatment of civilians and non-combatants as well as one's enemy in combat), and genocide (through ethnic cleansing, mass executions, rape and cruel punishment of the enemy). These 'crimes against humanity' once again require the emergence of norms which ought to govern relations among individuals in a global civil society (Benhabib 2006, 20). Drawing on the seminal ideas of Amy Gutmann (1996) and Seyla Benhabib (2006), I want to offer some ways democratic citizenship and cosmopolitanism can enhance the educational project of ensuring universal justice for all individuals and not just members of our own societies.

Firstly, I shall argue that educating for cosmopolitanism is conditional upon the cultivation of democratic citizenship, in particular showing how democratic citizenship can help us to recognise and respect every individual's claim to justice. Secondly, I shall show how cosmopolitanism can bring about the recognition of the rights claims of human beings everywhere.

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