030716SENNOTT.mp3

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has only held office for about five months, but in that time he's said and done plenty to inspire a blitz of attention from his American neighbors—from opening the country's arms to 25,000 Syrian refugees,to his concise and no-nonsense embrace of gender parity in government to, most recently, cuddling a pair of panda cubs at the Toronto Zoo.

On 60 Minutes Sunday, Trudeau got Americans' attention again with some pointed advice: "A little more of an awareness of what’s going on in the rest of the world is what many of Canadians would hope for Americans, because you can’t be Canadian without being aware of at least one other country because it’s so important to us," Trudeau said. "I think we’d like to think that Americans would pay attention to us time to time, too."

Does he have a point? When it comes to foreign affairs, are Americans too ignorant for comfort?

Here's some facts to consider: only 30% of Americans own a passport, compared to 50% of Australians, 60% of Canadians, and 80% of citizens of Great Britain. Foreign language enrollment at American universities is declining. In 2003, a Gallup poll found that only 6% of Americans could name the Prime Minister of Canada.

Charles Sennott, head of The GroundTruth Project, says that America needs to turn an eye outside its borders before it becomes too isolationist—and too disconnected from an increasingly interconnected world.

"We are a nation that believes in a notion of exceptionalism, that somehow we are out here as this nation that will be a shining light on the hill to other nations, and that gives us this arrogance that we don't need to care about the rest of the world," Sennott said. 

"This is a country that has great fortune," he said. "This is an interconnected world. This is a world where America can no longer afford to isolate itself."

Charles Sennott is a veteran reporter and head of The GroundTruth Project. To hear more from Sennott, tune in to Boston Public Radio above.