Education » Overview

Education and labor issues have featured as topics for discussion in our program portfolio since the 1950s. Recognizing that the way we learn and the future of work will change beyond recognition in coming decades, Salzburg Global Seminar is scaling up its commitment to explore these topics through a multi-year program on Education for Tomorrow’s World.

New technologies are taking us faster towards a post-industrial world, even in emerging and least-developed economies. Current teaching systems and metrics are being called into question. Young people, in particular, urgently need skills and support networks to realize their potential and forge individualized pathways for learning and work. Special attention needs to be paid to neglected talent, especially among marginalized groups, exploring how best to identify and nurture this otherwise wasted potential.

Relearning learning is critical to energize truly entrepreneurial societies. This will go far beyond education ministries to involve innovators, neuroscientists, data analysts and students themselves. As well as critically engaging with the ‘supply side’ of education, we must review the “demand side” – how to meet immediate needs to fill current jobs, identify new talents suited to new jobs, and promote access and diversity in a rapidly changing labor market.  

This program, launched in 2015, directly supports action to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (particularly Goal 4). It is a key component of Salzburg Global’s Human Transformation axis for 2016-2020, which recognizes that the digital and life sciences revolutions are radically changing assumptions and systems around education, jobs, families, health and ethics. Managing for change requires personal and organizational resilience, and for new technologies to be rooted in deep understanding of human needs and wants. 

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Getting Smart – Day 4 – “Make schools great again!”
Getting Smart – Day 4 – “Make schools great again!”
Louise Hallman 
To promote social and emotional learning in schools, it is vital to secure the support of a wide variety of stakeholders from parents to policymakers – but how? On the fourth day of Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills, in an effort to test their arguments and rhetorical skills, participants took part in a mock debate and prepared a mock memo to a so-far-unconvinced Minister of Education. Those working to promote social and emotional learning (SEL) often face arguments against implementing SEL programs. Such arguments include: “We’ve lost discipline and order! Children need to know their place... Life is tough, not ‘fun’ or ‘soft.’ Students need to be ready for that and have hard skills – not soft.” “Social and emotional learning programs are an invasion into our private lives. The moral education of our children is the responsibility and choice of parents, as well as churches and communities – not schools. Entrusting our children’s SEL development to schools makes them too powerful, and minimizes role of wider community.” “Data collection of personality tests leads to profiling! And these tests can faked or manipulated.”“Social and emotional learning programs are promoting a liberal, globalized agenda, and trying to universalize morals and values.” “Schools are for teaching reading, writing and arithmetic; SEL programs take valuable time away from this.” Knowing what reasoning can counter these arguments – and which messages resonate with different audiences – would help significantly advance SEL in schools, homes and the wider community.  When dealing with politicians, key points to keep in mind are that the Minister of Education may not have much of a background in education (beyond their own personal experience many years ago) and politicians can often be short-sighted and more focused on their re-election than long-term change. Developing programs than can be easily explained and communicated to a wider public and offer some immediate evidence of improvement – while appealing to their ego and legacy! – might persuade skeptical ministers. Download the full newsletter from Day 4 The Salzburg Global Session Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills is part of the Salzburg Global series Education for Tomorrow's World, hosted partnership with ETS. More information on the session can be found here: 


Salzburg Statement Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills

Salzburg Statement on Realizing Human Potential through Better Use of Assessment & Data in Education

Salzburg Statement - Quality Early Childhood Development and Education for all Girls and Boys