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3 Key Questions for Featured Fellow Steffen Bethmann

This month, we asked our featured fellow Steffen Bethmann to describe his work, how he follows the principles of global citizenship, and how he thinks we as a society can achieve global citizenship.

How has the Melton Foundation influenced your life?

I have been a Fellow since 2002. Through the MF I’ve learned a lot and it has influenced my life in a variety of ways. Most specifically, my hobby (voluntary engagement in numerous MF roles) became my job. Working with The Center for Philanthropy Studies, allows me a strong focus on foundation governance and management.

How do we achieve global citizenship?

For me, the term global citizenship stands for a responsible life style towards other people and the environment. It means believing in the rights and duties of every citizen on the planet to strive towards fewer conflicts and a better understanding of differences. It means believing in pluralistic societies where diversity is seen as an asset and not a risk. Of course this is not always easy. Natural tensions exist and need to be acknowledged. One of the goals of global citizenship is to objectively look at the problems we have and work towards a joint solution.

Citizenship itself means to take responsibility. The “Citizen” has rights but also duties. We should not overload the concept though. It is not an absolute state of being. I know I will never achieve it – but I keep on striving toward it.

How do you follow principles of Global Citizenship in your daily life?

I try to support GC with small steps For example, this may mean insisting that a monocultural view on topics in discussions is insufficient. It means trying to empower other organizations and people to reach their goals to build a better society through my job.

I spend a lot of time teaching and consulting for nonprofit organizations in order to help them to become more effective to reach their goals. Most of them are working locally, however I believe that through these local actions, the world benefits.