We, the Citizens of the Blue Dot

Foreword by Prof Anantha Duraiappah, Director of UNESCO MGIEP

Welcome to UNESCO MGIEP’s newest product – The Blue Dot.

The Blue Dot will be UNESCO MGIEP’s premier publication bringing you news, information and knowledge on how education can be used as an effective tool to build harmonious societies and a sustainable future. It is not intended as an academic publication, but rather as a magazine-style read, accessible to a wide range of readers interested in peace, sustainability and global citizenship.

Why the name Blue Dot? We were inspired by U.S. astronomer Carl Sagan’s perspective of the fragility and vulnerability of our planet within the cosmos. Viewed from space, the Earth appeared to him as, ‘a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.’ From a distance, all differences are blurred and the planet remains visible only as a pale blue dot. And yet, we find ourselves fighting over resources, seeing the world as “us versus them”, and forging ahead on a path of development that seems to be leading us towards a world of growing inequalities, dwindling resources, increasing numbers of disasters, and a disturbing number of conflicts across the world.

The good news is that the global community is not oblivious to these rising tides and has started processes on multiple fronts to address the problems we face today. The setting of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in an open and participatory process—though some have argued for an even more inclusive process—is a step in the right direction. Furthermore, the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI), promoted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, now makes equitable access to quality education, together with an education process which fosters global citizens, a priority. Last but not least, UNESCO’s Education For All (EFA) lays out the roadmap to implement workable solutions to strengthen this generation and build future generations of a learning society equipped with the necessary skills to work together as ‘one’ to solve the problems of ‘many’.

We at UNESCO MGIEP see the Blue Dot as a platform for dialogue, inviting multiple views and opinions—even if some might appear strong, controversial or unconventional. We invite responses to the articles presented in the magazine of which a selection will be published in the following editions.

Our first issue takes on global citizenship and education for global citizenship. These concepts are not new and many recent papers on global citizenship highlight the ancient Greek origins of the term. But the term is not just limited to ancient Greece. The Sanskrit term Vasudhaiv kutumbakam, which translates as “the world is one family”, appears in the Vedas, ancient Indian texts dating back to 1000-500 BCE. As Stephen Knapp articulates the summary of the Atharva Veda: “Born on the same planet, covered by the same skies, gazing at the same stars, breathing the same air, we must learn to progress happily together or miserably perish together. For humans can live individually but can survive only collectively.”

This issue comes up at the right time as debates on global citizenship and education for global citizenship pick up speed. We have solicited articles from the luminaries of our time. But we have also collected contributions from future leaders. The Blue Dot Essay contest on global citizenship saw entries come in from all over the world, and demonstrated that young people are thinking smartly and deeply about global citizenship as a possible way to the future.

Last but not least, a prize goes to the first reader who spots a blue dot hidden in the text of the magazine and sends us her/his submission. It is not one of the dots at the bottom of each page by the page numbers; we have hidden it on one of the pages. So read carefully.

I hope you enjoy reading the Blue Dot and welcome your feedback for improving future editions.

Anantha Kumar Duraiappah

Director, UNESCO MGIEP


If you find the hidden blue dot, then write to us at mgiep@unesco.org