Matariki Global Citizenship Programme

The Matariki Global Citizenship Programme is all about providing a space to critically explore global citizenship at Otago in all aspects - education, research and most importantly, in empowering our students.

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I feel that every student from the university should feel like a global citizen by the time we graduate. The definition of global citizenship is unclear to many; people feel excluded and feel like they are not doing enough. But in reality, anyone can be a global citizen

The Global Citizenship Dinner was an evening to kick-off the programme at Otago, to spark conversations across a wide range of students for what global citizenship can look like on our campus. Specially we explored three key themes:

  • Empowering students through identity

  • Empowering students through community and diversity

  • Empowering students through global connection

We wanted to launch the programme with an event that would provide the perfect environment to foster personal, critical and challenging conversations about global citizenship. What better way than over food! Sharing plates, and having the initial connection of food was the perfect tool to allow students to connect.

Having genuine diversity and representation was key to allowing these conversations to take place. We purposefully invited a wide range of students to join us: tangata whenua, international students, students from different faiths, those passionate about the environment and sustainability, students of different genders, students of different ages and studying different degrees.

Explore some of the thoughts and reflections as we explored the different themes over three courses of the evening.

Keen to be a part of the Global Citizenship conversation at Otago? Get in touch with us at - we’d love to have you on board!



Student empowerment starts from knowing and being proud of our own identities. We explored questions of what makes our own identity, and what parts of our identity connect to being a global citizen. In particular, we questioned why as students we struggle to know what our identity is, and how being at University supports/diminishes our identity.

These questions were shared while we shared and made rice paper rolls to begin.

The university is so big, sometimes stereotyping people becomes very common. ..Identity is not simple, it is complex; we don’t need to understand everyone’s identity, even respecting it is the biggest step.
There are a lot of uncountable truths that the University as an institution doesn’t want to hear... But, when a student speaks up against discrimination, for example, nobody listens. Nobody wants to admit that there is a problem related to this in the University.
I really loved the questions for this workshop - for how my identity plays out as a student: my everyday experience as a cis gendered pākehā female is really very privileged and it was awesome to talk with and hear the experiences of other people who identify differently and how they go about their day as a student.


Diversity and community are key to how we can build and share student empowerment as global citizens. After our main meal of curries and rice, students at each table worked together to illustrate how easy and important bringing together diversity is.

Each table was challenged to create the most interesting structure using various items that each student had brought along with them to the dinner. We wanted to explore how diversity can empower communities - despite countless examples and experiences of diversity being used in tokensitic and disenfranchising ways. It was identified that one of the greatests challenges was fostering genuine conversations where other voices are given an equal, or greater, weighting.

Diversity is a great tool in a community; we are not intermingling enough in the university. Just acknowledging that diversity exists is not enough.
To me, global citizenship is appreciating the diversity of a community and being open to learn from others.
Diversity empowers communities in its way of bringing different brains together - ever person sees the same situation/problem/etc in a different light and so through our diversity as a group can create some awesome solutions and ideas that wouldn’t come about if we were all the same


When students think of global citizenship, this often brings up images of global issues and being ‘international’. These issues are often lofty and feel out of reach - bringing up questions of how we can be global citizens without leaving our own communities.

For our last course over dessert, we wanted to challenge how we can use our global connection to facilitate meaningful change. Each table was asked to strategically think about individual, group, community and national actions that could be taken in relation to these different global challenges: period poverty, fast fashion, food waste, mental health and well being of minority groups, and long term refugee support.

It was important for me, that students realise they can be part of these conversations that discuss global issues. If they can identify what is important to them as a global citizen, then it opens up platforms for them to discuss further changes/activities they can bring to the university.
We need to have difficult conversations, this is a community that lives watching the white elephant and nobody wants to talk about it.
There needs to be a greater emphasis on community at a global scale, more platforms to share culture than just the international food festival, and more opportunities to educate students about important global issues.