Global Citizenships Project

The Global Citizenships Project is an interdisciplinary effort to join theory and practice, action and reflection, by connecting students, faculty, and practitioners in conversations about the nature, scope, and limits of what is frequently called "global citizenship." Funded by BC's Institute for Liberal Arts and led by International Studies Program director Erik Owens, it has offered a series of "action workshops" for students and practitioners, a lecture series, a faculty seminar, and a conference; a film series is planned for the future as well.

Global Citizenship Workshops

Global Citizenship Workshops bring 15-20 BC undergraduates together for intimate conversations with extraordinary "global citizens" from different professional sectors to discuss the sense of purpose that drives their work and life. When necessary, the workshops are held online; when in person, they meet in the Andover Room at Connolly House.

Workshops are broken into three parts:

  1. conversation between the speaker and Prof. Erik Owens about the speaker's career path (including challenges, sacrifices, and inflection points), and the values that sustained them in their work; 
  2. small group conversations; 
  3. student questions about specific own career paths or interests

    Joanna Williams

    Joanna Williams

    Executive Director, Kino Border Initiative

    April 3, 2023, 6:00 - 8:00pm, via Zoom

    Joanna Williams is Executive Director of the Kino Border Initiative (KBI), a Jesuit-inspired Catholic organization rooted in both sides of the US-Mexico border at Nogales Arizona/Sonora that fosters bi-national solidarity through humanitarian assistance, education and research/advocacy. She has served at KBI since 2015, first as Director of Education and Advocacy before being named Executive Director in 2021. She graduated with a Bachelor's in Science from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and received a Master's in Public Policy from Arizona State University. Prior to joining KBI, she journeyed with immigrants in a variety of contexts: She volunteered at a shelter in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, conducted Fulbright research on the reintegration of deported and return migrants, and worked as a coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Border Litigation Project.

    Erin Houlihan

    Erin Houlihan

    Program Director for Democratic Governance
    National Democratic Institute

    March 25, 2023, 12:00-2:00pm

    Erin C. Houlihan is a Program Director on Democratic Governance at the National Democratic Institute in Washington DC, supporting the Institute’s 70+ country programs on issues of open, accountable, participatory and inclusive governance at the local and regional level. Erin formerly served as a Program Officer with International IDEA’s Constitution-Building Program in The Hague where her research and advising work focused on democracy and conflict transitions globally. She provided technical support to constitution reform processes in a range of contexts; developed global comparative knowledge products, managed tools and databases on process and design matters, and established the annual Women Constitution-Makers dialogue series. Prior to this, Houlihan served in a variety of senior advisor and management roles with country-based rule of law, human rights and good governance assistance programs and research projects, primarily in conflict-affected contexts. She holds a Juris Doctor and an MA in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and an MA in Special Education from Loyola Marymount University.

    Navyn Salem

    Navyn Salem ’94, H’12

    Founder and CEO, Edesia Nutrition

    October 26, 2022, 6:00 - 8:30pm

    Navyn Salem is the founder and Executive Director of Edesia, the U.S. nonprofit manufacturer of Plumpy’Nut® and other ready-to-use, nutrient-rich, peanut pastes that effectively treat and prevent acute malnutrition. Edesia works with humanitarian agencies like UNICEF, World Food Programme, USAID and other NGOs in emergency and conflict zonesm reaching over 15 million children in 60+ countries since 2010, including Somalia, Venezuela, Yemen and Syria. In 2020, she expanded her mission to include addressing hunger in the United States and works with the USDA in providing food for their COVID-19 emergency response efforts for both school lunch programs and food banks. In 2021, she partnered with Chobani to launch Chobani Ends Hunger, a new line of super peanut blends in retailers nationwide. 100% of profits are donated to Edesia to help further the mission.

    Navyn was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year/New England in 2018, New Englander of the Year by the New England Council in 2017 and New England Business Woman of the Year by Bryant University. She was awarded honorary degrees by Boston College (2012) as well as Bryant University (2014), Providence College (2017), Curry College (2018), and University of RI (2021), and is a Trustee of Boston College. She is a 2014 Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Navyn’s father is from Tanzania and she has four daughters, all of whom were the inspiration for the creation of Edesia.

    Click here or on the image at left to watch a video of Ms. Salem's conversation with Prof. Erik Owens and a group of BC undergraduates. 

    Clint Borgen

    Clint Borgen

    Founder and President, The Borgen Project 

    April 28, 2022, 6:00-7:30pm, via Zoom

    Clint Borgen is the Founder and President of The Borgen Project, an organization working to bring U.S. political attention to global poverty. Borgen works with Congressional leaders to build support for legislation that improves conditions for people in developing nations. He is widely regarded as one of the leading poverty-reduction campaigners in the United States

    In 1999, while working as a young volunteer in refugee camps during the Kosovo War and genocide, Clint Borgen recognized the need for an organization that could bring U.S. political attention to issues of severe poverty.In 2003, after graduating from Washington State University and interning at the United Nations, Borgen began developing his project. Now headquartered in Tacoma, Washington, The Borgen Project has become an influential campaign aimed at reducing global poverty through public mobilization and political advocacy, and serves as a testament that one man and a laptop can change the world.

    Click here or on the image at left to watch a video of Mr. Sennott's conversation with Prof. Erik Owens and a group of BC undergraduates. 

    Charles Sennott

    Charles Sennott

    Founder, CEO, and Editor, The GroundTruth Project 
    Former Bureau Chief in Jerusalem and Kabul, The Boston Globe 

    April 5, 2022, 6:30-9:00pm at Connolly House 

    Charles Sennott is the founder, Chief Executive Officer and Editor of The GroundTruth Project. He is an award-winning correspondent, best-selling author and editor with 30 years of experience in international, national and local journalism. A leading social entrepreneur in new media, Sennott started GroundTruth in 2014, and in 2017 launched the non-profit organization's new, local reporting initiative, Report for America. 

    Reporting on the front lines of wars and insurgencies in at least 20 countries, including the post 9-11 conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and the 2011 Arab Spring, Sennott began his career in local news covering cops, courts and municipal government. Sennott’s deep experience in reporting led him to dedicate himself to supporting and training the next generation of journalists to tell the most important stories of our time. Sennott is also the co-founder of GlobalPost, an acclaimed international news website. 

    Previously, Sennott worked for many years as a reporter at the New York Daily News and then the Boston Globe, where he became Bureau Chief for the Middle East and Europe, and a leader of the paper's international coverage from 1997 to 2005. Sennott has also served as a correspondent for PBS FRONTLINE and the PBS NewsHour. He has contributed news analysis to the BBC, CNN, NPR, MSNBC and others. 

    He is a graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. In 2016, Sennott was accepted into the DRK portfolio of leading social entrepreneurs who can make a difference.

    Click here or on the image at left to watch a video of Mr. Sennott's conversation with Prof. Erik Owens and a group of BC undergraduates.  (A video of the Q&A period with students is also available.)

    Maryanne Loughry

    Associate Director, Jesuit Refugee Services (Sydney, Australia)
    Research Professor, Boston College School of Social Work
    Research Associate, University of Oxford Refugee Studies Centre

    February 22, 2022, 6-9pm at Connolly House

    Maryanne Loughry, Ph.D. is a Sister of Mercy who works with and for refugees worldwide. At Boston College (School of Social Work) and Oxford University (Refugee Studies Centre and Campion Hall), she researches and teaches about the psychosocial effects of refugee displacement, with special attention to climate-induced displacement in the Pacific. In Sydney, Australia, she serves as Associate Director of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Australia

    She has worked in detention centres and refugee camps, and conducted program evaluations and humanitarian training in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans, the UK, and most recently in the United States with recent Afghan refugees.  Dr. Loughry serves on the governing committee of the International Catholic Migration Committee (ICMC), and in 2010 was made a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia in recorgnition of her service to refugees.

    Click here or on the image at left to watch a video of Sr. Loughry's conversation with Prof. Erik Owens and a group of BC undergraduates.  (A video of the Q&A period with students is also available.)

    Mary Popeo '14

    Mary Popeo '14

    Co-founder and business director, Peace Culture Village
    Hiroshima, Japan

    February 12, 2021, 9-11am EST (11pm-1am Japan time), via Zoom

    Mary is co-founder and business director of PCV, a peace education nonprofit incorporated in Hiroshima, Japan. As an International Studies major at Boston College, she visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki on research grants to study nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. Those experiences changed her life. After graduating from BC in 2014, she became a youth organizer and anti-nuclear weapons activist in both Boston and Japan, where she worked with groups such as the American Friends Service Committee, Global Zero, Japan New Women's Association, and Japan Council Against A & H Bombs. Mary has also worked at Harvard University, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Boston University, and Showa Boston Institute for Language and Culture. She moved to Hiroshima in 2016 to co-found PCV and spent three years managing PCV's ecovillage in the countryside. She now lives in Hiroshima City, where she and the PCV team design Hiroshima-based learning experiences for thousands of people every year.

    Click here or on the image at left to watch a video of Mary's conversation with Prof. Erik Owens and a group of BC undergraduates. 

    Matt Oliva, MD

    Matt Oliva, MD

    Ophthalmologist, Medical Eye Center, Medford, Oregon
    Board Member, Himalayan Cataract Project 
    May 6, 2020 , via Zoom

    Matt Oliva is a board certified ophthalmologist and fellowship-trained corneal surgeon, specializing in surgical and medical treatments of the anterior eye including cataract and refractive surgery, LASIK, refractive lens exchange, corneal transplantation, and infection-related eye diseases. He is heavily involved in international service work and serves on the board of directors for the Himalayan Cataract Project (HCP), a non-profit organization that seels to eliminate needless blindness in the developing world. He directs the foundation’s work in Ethiopia and Eritrea and travels multiple times per year to perform and teach eye surgery. His work has been featured on NPR and VICE TV. Dr. Oliva also serves as the Medical Director of the country’s largest eye bank, SightLife, based in Seattle, and is an Affiliate Assistant Professor at Casey Eye Institute at Oregon Health Sciences University.

    Matthew Smith

    Matthew Smith

    Co-Founder and CEO, Fortify Rights
    February 25, 2020

    Matthew Smith is a co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fortify Rights, a Thailand-based organization that investigates human rights violations, engages "people with power" to seek solutions, and strengthens human rights defenders and affected communities to support local-led, collective responses to human rights violations. Matthew previously worked with Human Rights Watch, EarthRights International, Kerry Kennedy of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, and as a community organizer and emergencies social worker in the United States. In 2019, he received a Fellowship at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and he was a 2014 Echoing Green Global Fellow. Matthew’s work has exposed genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, multi-billion-dollar corruption, and other human rights violations. He has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street JournalTIME, the Guardian, and other outlets. He has an M.A. in Human Rights and Religion from Columbia University and a B.A. in Political Science from Le Moyne College in the U.S.

    Ophelia Dahl speaks with a small group of students

    Ophelia Dahl

    Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of Directors, Partners in Health
    April 9, 2019

    Ophelia Dahl has been advocating for the health and rights of poor people for nearly 30 years. In 1983, she volunteered at the small Eye Care Haiti clinic in Haiti’s impoverished Central Plateau. There she met Paul Farmer, and they have been working ever since to deliver high-quality health care to the destitute sick. Dahl has served as chair of the board since 2000 and served as executive director from 2001 to 2015. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and the recipient of the Union Medal by Union Theological Seminary. Dahl is chairman of Dahl & Dahl LLP, which manages the literary estate of her late father, the writer Roald Dahl. She also serves as vice president on the board of Roald Dahl’s Museum and Story Centre.

    Jason Motlagh

    Jason Motlagh

    Journalist, filmmaker, human rights activist
    March 12, 2019

    Jason Motlagh is a multimedia journalist and filmmaker who writes, takes pictures and produces videos that seek out hard, under-reported subjects and make them resonate as much as possible. Formerly TIME Magazine’sAfghanistan correspondent, he has reported from more than sixty countries and a dozen conflicts spanning West Africa to Southeast Asia for National GeographicOutsideRolling StoneThe Washington PostThe Guardian and The Economist. He has also produced and hosted films for Al Jazeera EnglishNational Geographic, CGTN Americaand SBS Dateline. Learn more about him and his work at

    In March 2019 he joined a group of 16 undergraduates for an "action workshop" combined personal reflections on the values that drive his work, the risks he takes, and the costs he has borne, with focused career advice and small-group student mentoring.

    Global Citizenships Lecture Series

    Seyla Benhabib

    The Seductions of Sovereignty:
    A Democratic and Cosmopolitan Critique

    Seyla Benhabib, Columbia University
    Wednesday, January 25, 2023 at 7:00pm
    Gasson 100

    Seyla Benhabib is the Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy Emerita at Yale University where she taught from 2001 to 2020. She is currently Senior Research Fellow and Professor Adjunct of Law at Columbia University, and Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Philosophy. An internationally distinguished political and social theorist, she is the editor of ten books and the author of many others, including The Rights of Others: Aliens, Citizens and Residents (2004); Another Cosmopolitanism: Hospitality, Sovereignty and Democratic Iterations (2006); Equality and Difference: Human Dignity and Popular Sovereignty (2013); and Toward New Democratic Imaginaries: Istanbul Seminars on Islam, Culture, and Politics (2016). Her most recent book is Exile, Statelessness and Migration: Playing Chess with History from Hannah Arendt to Isaiah Berlin (2018). Her work has been translated in to more than a dozen languages, and she is the recipient of numerous honors, grants, and prizes, including Guggenheim Fellowships, the Meister Eckhart Prize (2014), and membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

    Her lecture is co-sponsored by the Lowell Lectures and the International Studies Program.



    Samuel Moyn

    Humane: How the US Abandoned Peace and Reinvented War

    Samuel Moyn, Yale University
    Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 7:00pm
    via Zoom

    Samuel Moyn is Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School and Professor of History at Yale University. He received a doctorate in modern European history from the University of California-Berkeley in 2000 and a law degree from Harvard University in 2001. His areas of interest in legal scholarship include international law, human rights, the law of war, and legal thought, in both historical and current perspective. In intellectual history, he has worked on a diverse range of subjects, especially twentieth-century European moral and political theory. He has written several books, including The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (2010), and edited or co-edited a number of others. His most recent books are Christian Human Rights (2015) and Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World (2018).

    Eric Gregory

    Global Citizenship and the Good Samaritan

    Eric Gregory, Princeton University
    Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 6:30pm
    via Zoom

    Eric Gregory is Professor of Religion at Princeton University, where he is chair of the Council of the Humanities, director of the Program in Humanistic Studies, and sits with the executive committee of the University Center for Human Values. He is the author of Politics and the Order of Love: An Augustinian Ethic of Democratic Citizenship (Chicago, 2008), and is completing a manuscript tentatively titled The In-Gathering of Strangers: Global Justice and Political Theology, which examines secular and religious perspectives on global justice. He teaches in the areas of religious and philosophical ethics, theology, political theory, law and religion, and the role of religion in public life. A graduate of Harvard College, he earned an M.Phil. and Diploma in Theology from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and his doctorate in Religious Studies from Yale University.

    Watch Prof. Gregory's Global Citizenships lecture by clicking here or on the image at left. 

    Kwame Anthony Appiah

    Cosmopolitanism and Global Citizenship: Ethics in a World of Strangers

    Kwame Anthony Appiah, New York University
    Thursday, December 5, 2019 at 7:00pm
    McGuinn Hall 121

    Kwame Anthony Appiah is a British-born Ghanaian-American philosopher, cultural theorist, and novelist whose interests include political and moral theory, the philosophy of language and mind, and African intellectual history. His most recent publication, The Lies That Bind, is based on his 2016 BBC Reith Lectures on "Mistaken Identities." He has taught at Yale, Cornell, Duke, and Harvard, and lectured at a number of universities in the United States, France, Germany, Ghana, and South Africa. He is currently a Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University, and teaches both in New York and Abu Dhabi. 

    [Presented by the Lowell Humanities Series and cosponsored by the Global Citizenships Project, the International Studies Program, and the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy.]


    Cresa Pugh

    The Endurance of Political Violence against the Rohingya of Myanmar

    Cresa Pugh, Harvard University
    November 13, 2019 at 7:00pm
    Fulton Hall 511

    Cresa Pugh is a doctoral student in Sociology & Social Policy. Her current research interests include ethnic and religious conflict in Southeast Asia, particularly Myanmar, and the role of collective memory and identity in shaping peacebuilding efforts in post-conflict societies. In her work she employs qualitative research methods—including interviews, participant observation, and focus group discussion—and most recently conducted fieldwork in Rakhine State, Myanmar, to study inequality within ethnic and religious minority communities.  Cresa is also interested in the international criminal justice and prison landscape, with a particular focus on how neoliberal policies and globalizing forces have produced a transnational system of mass incarceration. Generally the themes and areas in which her work is situated include: international peace and conflict, political sociology, transnational studies, punishment and justice, migration and development, and global human rights.  Her dissertation examines the legacies of colonialism and processes of decolonization through the lens of cultural materiality shared between Britain and Nigeria since the 1960s.


    Roya Hakakian
Provided photo

    The Plight of Women in Israel and Iran, and the Silence of Feminists
    January 31, 2024 at 7:00pm
    Gasson 100 

    Roya Hakakian is an Iranian-American writer, journalist, and public speaker. Her opinion columns, essays, and book reviews appear in leading English language publications including The New York Times, The New York Review of Books and The Atlantic. A founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, she has spoken on a variety of news outlets, from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS to MSNBC, as well as in Washington D.C. for the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and the State Department with U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken. Her latest book A Beginner’s Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious has been called "a contemporary Tocquevlllian account" by The Wall Street Journal and The Boston Globe. She is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship among many other prizes and has been called one of “the most important activists, academics and journalists of her generation.”

    [Presented by the Lowell Humanities Series and co-sponsored by the Global Citizenships Project of the International Studies Program, the Islamic Civilization and Societies Program, and with the support of an ILA Major Grant.]

    Faculty Seminar

    Global Citizenships Past, Present, and Future

    As Boston College ramps up its attention to "the global" in all aspects of its work, including the promotion of "global engagement" and "global citizenship," it is fitting to invest in conversations that explore these concepts’ origins, constructions, and controversies. For many in our community, global citizenship resonates strongly as an ethical ideal to which we ought to strive in an interconnected world, but for others it signals an abdication of our responsibilities to our close neighbors or fellow-citizens of the United States; and in either case it carries with it complex practical disputes over what constitutes engaged global citizenship in action. There are of course many other angles of entry into the discourse and scholarship about global citizenship that are rooted in sociology, economics, education, political science, theology, history, literature, film and other disciplines.


    Gideon Maltz delivers keynote address

    Gideon Maltz delivers keynote address

    Refugees and Migration:
    Responding to a Global Humanitarian Crisis 

    On October 19, 2018, the Global Citizenships Project co-sponsored a large conference at Boston College to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis presented by the historic surge of refugees and other migrants worldwide. Co-organized by Prof. Kathleen Bailey (Political Science, Islamic Civilization & Societies) and Prof. Erik Owens (International Studies, Theology), the conference featured three panels and two keynote lectures:   

    Panel 1: What’s Happening? 
    An overview of global refugee and migration dynamics, featuring Dany Bahar (Brookings Institution), Cresa Pugh (Harvard University), and Mahir Zeynalov (The Globe Post); moderated by Ali Banuazizi (Boston College).

    Panel 2: What Can Be Done? 
    A review of the work of the UN, NGOs, and national governments, featuring Sr. Maryanne Loughry, RSM (Jesuit Refugee Service, Australia), Matthew Reynolds (UN High Commission for Refugees), and David Phillips (Columbia University); moderated by Erik Owens (Boston College).

    Lunch Keynote address by Gideon Maltz (Tent Partnership for Refugees)

    Panel 3: What Can I Do? 
    A conversation about local efforts to assist refugees and migrants, featuring Layla Mohamed (Catholic Charities Maine) and An Le (City of Boston, Mayor's Office for Immigrant Advancement); moderated by Kristin Heyer (Boston College).

    Closing Keynote: Sasha Chanoff (RefugePoint)