The paper explores theories and practices of global citizenship in higher education in Canada and Ireland, setting these within contrasting or complementary scenarios and projects of internationalization and international development. The paper will present a comparative analysis of theories and practices of global citizenship in two pioneer universities in Canada (University of British Columbia; University of Alberta) with similar programmes of internationalization and civic engagement in two Irish universities (University College Dublin and NUI Galway). The research locates efforts to develop global citizenship initiatives in relation to current trends in the internationalization of higher education and in international development policy. These trends include the development of ‘global’ curriculum, the increasing formalization or ‘mainstreaming’ of development education and global citizenship education and new modalities of aid which focus on research and teaching in higher education. The Canadian and Irish experiences will be compared and contrasted, exploring different ideas and practices of global citizenship, internationalization and engagement and asking how these fit with development policy. The paper asks to what extent the two national contexts provide different concepts, forms and practices of internationalization and ethical globalization in higher education and problematizes these in relation to the ethics of privilege and ‘helping’.