Imagining Citizenship: Cosmopolitanism or Patriotism?
by Kathleen Knight Abowitz - August 12, 2002
In this article, I explore the tensions between Martha Nussbaum’s case for cosmopolitanism and Walter Feinberg’s platform for American civic education, as well as the relevant of their respective positions for public education in the future. Nussbaum believes that our schools should be teaching students to recognize and understand humanity in all its forms across the world. Feinberg believes that the common school has an historic and continued mission to create a national identity in a multicultural nation. I argue that the significant commonality between the two positions is the insistence on imagining the cultural other as the key step in building civic identity. Each author examines the problem of citizenship from a very different context — Feinberg ignores “global” concerns and zeroes in on issues of multiculturalism in a democratic nation; Nussbaum ignores the nation-state and makes the humanistic case for world citizenship. Read together, they build an ambitious agenda for citizenship education in the post-9/11 era into which we have recently and reluctantly entered.
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