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. 

To view related sessions, click here.


Kathleen Heugh – “This is Not a Game Any Longer, We Know That This is Extremely Serious”
Kathleen Heugh by the lake during Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World
Kathleen Heugh – “This is Not a Game Any Longer, We Know That This is Extremely Serious”
Mirva Villa 

Kathleen Heugh has enjoyed a long career in linguistics, with her research focusing particularly on multilingual education policies and practices. She has advised 35 national governments on language policy in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and South America, and has engaged in a number of initiatives promoting multilingual approach in education.

Heugh was in Salzburg in December 2017 to share this lengthy experience at the session, Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World. According to Heugh, children coming from marginalized language backgrounds, particularly in the former European colonies across the world, often feel pressured to develop a high-level proficiency in a European language, such as English, in addition to or instead of a local language and a national language in order to succeed in life.

“The problem is that the sooner one drops into an English-medium education system, the less likely it is that people’s aspirations will be met,” she says.

Multilingual education is a valuable method for keeping children, especially girls, in school until the end of primary school. If the transition to an international language, such as English or French, happens too soon, the girls will be more likely to fall out of schooling, says Heugh, as they are often called home to take care of their younger siblings. If they don’t succeed in school, there is a lot of pressure for them to get married early on.

“Being schooled through home language means that you have a chance to stay in school for a bit longer, and there’s a chance to go into secondary school. And we know that the longer girls are in education, the better their family’s chances are of escaping poverty later on.”

Heugh’s interest in languages was sparked from a very young age, when she herself attended a bilingual (English and Afrikaans) school in South Africa. She wanted to become an English teacher for students speaking African languages, but after training she was unable to find job as she was considered to “politically problematic” by the Apartheid government.

“I went back to university to do a master’s degree in language education, and I then discovered the Apartheid’s system had largely been based on a language policy of separation and segregation. I realized very quickly that if language policy can segregate and separate people, there must be a better way of having a language policy that could draw people together.”

Shifting geopolitical power balances and the mass movement of people create an urgency across the globe to rethink multilingual education. Many countries receiving large numbers of migrants do not yet have systems geared towards multilingual education. Keeping children in school is important to avoid social exclusion, and while providing education in the mother tongue of every child may not be possible, there are other ways of ensuring multilingual education. However, this requires comprehensive working with teachers, rethinking of teacher education programs, and governments and education departments understanding the urgency of this need, Heugh says.

Heugh is currently teaching English at the University of South Australia. Most of her students are either international students or have migrant backgrounds.

“I cannot speak all the languages of my students, but I try to use multilingual techniques… In every assignment, the students are expected to do research in their home language as well as in English, and to bring in the resources and the knowledge that they glean from their research articles and academic texts in at least two other languages together in their assignment, and which they then craft into English.”

The use of multiple languages encourages the international students to cooperate with the native speakers of English, and vice versa. Heugh aims to bridge connections and build co-dependency between her students, and she has noticed this has increased the self-esteem of international students as they see that all of their contributions are valuable. The domestic Australian students have also been humbled and exposed to new knowledge of the world. “None of them can actually complete an assignment unless they have sourced information from another language or a student who has access to knowledge in another language.”

Heugh believes that one of the ways in which to achieve sustainable multilingual education across all ages is to engage with the people working in the administrative or implementation side of government policies. Unlike politicians who have limited term of office, administrators often have long careers in their departments, so it is important to build their capacity in understanding how to implement sustainable policies for multilingual education.

“This is not a game any longer, we know that this is extremely serious. We actually have to make sure that education systems across the world understand that we have to look at how we might be able to provide multilingual education, and what sort of systems can we put in place.”


The session, Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World is part of Salzburg Global Seminar multi-year series  Education for Tomorrow’s World. The session is being held in partnership with ETS, the Qatar Foundation and Microsoft. This project was also supported by The Erste Foundation. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGSedu on Twitter and Instagram.

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Hywel Coleman - Every Language Encapsulates Knowledge; If a Language Dies, We Lose Knowledge
Hywel Coleman OBE in the Max Reinhardt Library during Salzburg Global session Springboard for Talent – Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World
Hywel Coleman - Every Language Encapsulates Knowledge; If a Language Dies, We Lose Knowledge
Mirva Villa 

When Hywel Coleman first came to Indonesia, he arrived straight out of university, having signed up as a volunteer English teacher. This spell led to lecturing in several institutions before he “stayed, stayed and stayed “in the country for more than 12 years. He returned to the UK for 14 years to teach at the University of Leeds, before moving back to Indonesia in 2001, working as a consultant and involving himself in projects with Indonesia’s Ministry of Education. He was awarded the 'Order of the British Empire' (OBE) in 1999 for his services to education in Indonesia.

“In total, I’ve lived in Indonesia for 29 years – it’s my home,” Coleman says, speaking at the Salzburg Global session, Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World. His interests now are in language policy in education and the role of the English language in Indonesia. There are approximately 700 languages spoken in Indonesia.

These languages range from local languages only spoken by 200 people to more prominent languages such as Bahasa Indonesia, Javanese, and Balinese. Bahasa Indonesia is the country’s sole official language and is used for all government purposes, including in parliament, law courts and education.

“There are several laws which say Indonesian is the only language of education, so the government schools must use Indonesian as the medium of instruction,” says Coleman. “This means that local languages have no official role at all in government or education. “This is a very sensitive issue because some people feel that if local languages are given a role, this will lead ultimately to the disintegration of the nation.”

While there is no historical evidence of that occurring, the fear of allowing local languages to be used in education remains prevalent. This belief remains despite Indonesian children performing poorly in comparison with other countries in international tests like the OECD Program for International Student Assessment.

Coleman believes children not learning in the language they’re most comfortable with is a contributing factor. He says, “The evidence is that if you don’t use the child’s first language, or the language the child is most comfortable with, their learning is going to be negatively affected, but the debate about this is hardly happening in Indonesia."

In Coleman’s opinion, Indonesia’s language policy threatens the survival of several local languages, which he feels would represent a significant loss.

“It’s a problem because every language encapsulates knowledge of the environment and the community in which it is used. If a language dies, then we lose knowledge. We lose knowledge about the environment, about the plants and the trees and the animals, which can be described in the local language, but which cannot be described in other languages.”

“We lose a way of looking at the world: every community, every ethnic group, every language group has a way of interpreting the world, making sense of the world, and we lose that. And if the world becomes more and more homogeneous, what a boring world it would be.”

Despite this concern about the language policy, Coleman believes there are lessons other countries can learn from people living in Indonesia. He says, “Putting aside language policy in school, a lot of Indonesians are naturally multilingual, because ethnic groups mix and overlap, and people are very open to languages. People talk about languages a lot, they joke about languages, and they learn each other’s languages very readily. I think that’s something that in Britain is completely absent.”

Coleman is currently investigating the language repertoires and attitudes of scholars in the pesantren, which are residential, Islamic educational institutions. These madrasas, as they are also known, are not part of the state education system, meaning they are not beholden to the official language legislation. Some schools use Bahasa Indonesia but many use Arabic, English or local languages. Some schools use the national language in the classroom but encourage the use of local languages outside the classroom.

“What really struck me was how all the children I interviewed were nonchalantly multilingual: ‘Yeah, I speak four or five languages, so what? Doesn’t everybody?’ That impressed me,” Coleman says.

Coleman was brought up in a Welsh family living in England. His mother was Welsh speaking, but would only use Welsh when her sisters came to visit. He says, “I always felt excluded, because I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I asked my mother to teach me Welsh and she wouldn’t, because she felt that her Welsh was inadequate… I think that left a hole in me somewhere – a gap.

“While in school, Coleman tried, unsuccessfully, to learn French, German and Latin, which left him convinced that he wasn’t able to learn other languages. This belief changed when he moved to Indonesia. “Being in the context where I needed to learn the language to survive and to make friends, I discovered that I could learn languages, and enjoy it, and find it fulfilling. And this was a revelation to me.”

Since then, he’s become more critical toward the role that the English language plays in the rest of the world. He also thinks the language policy in Indonesia needs to be rethought. His key message is: “The world is bigger than Europe, and language issues and language contexts are very, very varied… We shouldn’t assume that what’s appropriate for Europe and North America is relevant at all to other parts of the world.”


The session, Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World is part of Salzburg Global Seminar multi-year series  Education for Tomorrow’s World. The session is being held in partnership with ETS, the Qatar Foundation and Microsoft. This project was also supported by The Erste Foundation. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGSedu on Twitter and Instagram.

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Springboard for Talent – Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World
The session, Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World, is being held in partnership with ETS, the Qatar Foundation and Microsoft
Springboard for Talent – Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World
Salzburg Global Seminar 

Language is fundamental to national identity and an important contributor to social cohesion in modern pluralistic societies. Learning a foreign language helps you to know that country and language skills can be very valuable. However, language policy decisions can also impact detrimentally on students’ life chances. All of this raises critical questions for researchers, policymakers and practitioners about the role of language learning and testing for two public good objectives: to “untap” and optimize individual talents and to foster social cohesion and dynamic inclusive economies.

To this end, Salzburg Global Seminar is holding the session Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World at its home in Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria, from December 12 to 16, 2017.

The session is being held in partnership with ETS, the Qatar Foundation and Microsoft, and forms part of Salzburg Global’s long-running multi-year series, Education for Tomorrow’s World.

The four-day program will bring together over 50 representatives from the varying spheres of policy, academia, civil society and business, representing over 25 countries, to look at the importance of language policy and practice from three perspectives – the individual, the state, and market and society – and examine how language learning can help integration, international relations and employment opportunities.

As many countries try to tackle large influxes of both refugees and migrants, participants will examine language programs that help the new arrivals better integrate into their new host countries and enhance social cohesion. Languages also play a large role for the state with regards to “soft power” and diplomacy, as seen by the emergence of English as a global “lingua franca” and the growing efforts in the West to learn Chinese to better engage with and understand the rising power of China. The third lens of the session will look at the economic value of language learning, with evidence showing that bilingualism and multilingualism bring strong economic benefits for labor mobility.

Like many other sectors, technological innovation has the potential to revolutionize and democratize the language teaching and learning fields, paving the way to fairer access to the job market. Participants in Salzburg will consider the role disruptive technology might play in shaping future decisions about language policy.

Much emphasis in schools’ curriculum in recent years has been placed on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), with languages often valued less in comparison – despite the fact this goes against the latest thinking in neuroscience. Participants will consider how the research community can counter this misalignment of evidence and policy, and gain more traction with policymakers, practitioners and the public.

In an effort to promote the importance of language learning, as well as participating in panel-led plenary discussions and working groups, the participants will collaborate on both a “Salzburg Statement” and the formulation of a series of “Salzburg Questions.” The Statement will not only be circulated widely following the session, but will also form the basis of a new series of webinars to be held throughout 2018. The Questions will spark an online international debate, to be launched on Twitter on International Mother Language Day on February 21.

You can follow all discussions throughout the week on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #SGSedu.


The session, Springboard for Talent: Language Learning and Integration in a Globalized World is part of Salzburg Global Seminar multi-year series  Education for Tomorrow’s World. The session is being held in partnership with ETS, the Qatar Foundation and Microsoft. This project was also supported by The Erste Foundation. To keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the session, follow #SGSedu on Twitter and Instagram.

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SSASA symposium reflects on implications and global reactions to Trump administration
SSASA symposium reflects on implications and global reactions to Trump administration
Salzburg Global Seminar 

Academics, legal profession representatives, and others working to protect and improve life in the U.S. have considered the implications and global reactions to the new U.S. administration.

The conversations took place on the final day of the 15th symposium of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA), which took place at Schloss Leopoldskron. 

This year's program - Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration - included presentations and conversations on racial issues, immigration, populism, wealth, media, legal rights, civil rights, and criminal law. 

These issues, which will be covered further by Salzburg Global in the coming days, were considered alongside a broader topic of what "the American Dream" means in today's world, whether it still exists, and what this dream represents. 

The program was split into three themes: 70 years of trends and events; quality of life and opportunity; and fairness and justice.

In the last presentation of the session, three speakers provided comments on President Donald Trump’s administration before taking questions from the audience.

Participants heard from one speaker that U.S. prosperity was partially dependent on the Asia-Pacific region and political relations had improved under President Barack Obama, particularly in Myanmar and Vietnam.

The same speaker said President Trump’s win had come as a shock to many in Southeast Asia and countries in the region were now looking forward to see how the U.S. maintains its commitment to the region.

Anne Mørk, an assistant professor of American history at the University of Southern Denmark, said when one looks at the rhetorical presidency theory, it is no surprise President Trump won the election.

Trump has used social media to communicate with the public. When he makes statements on Twitter, he is speaking to his followers without a filter. Mørk described the role of the president in the 19th century as that of a manager - a role she believes President Trump appears to have little interest playing.

Mørk suggested President Trump’s “angry” and “macho” rhetoric almost became a form of entertainment similar to wrestling. She concluded by suggesting the rhetoric had become a policy in itself.

Alex Seago, dean of communications, arts and social sciences at Richmond, The American International University in London, said he pursued American studies because he was enamored by the country and culture. Seago, who’s also a professor of cultural studies, suggested President Trump was making a deliberate attempt to undermine America’s soft power. 

While “the American Dream” may still exist, Seago believes the U.S. has become less attractive to people. He later said the U.S. had a global image of a nation acting as a leading light for people to follow. This image showed the U.S as democratic and a country which gave people opportunities. However, the sense of “you can do anything if you work hard” is a lot less apparent now. 

In his concluding remarks, Ron Clifton, chair of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA), said two things had really struck him during this year’s program – one being how fairness and justice can depend on factors such as social status and race. The other thing which he felt was left to consider were the implications of the changes underway in the U.S., especially under the new administration.

He said, “I like the phrase that [a participant] just came up with which is, “At this moment it would seem to me that America is looking less good.” The question is what does that imply for the future and when and where will the turn occur? Of course, being an American, we are optimistic and hopeful, we have a burden to carry and that burden we carry is to make things better and to invite people to join in with us and progress.”


The Salzburg Global program Life and Justice in America: Implications of the New Administration is part of Salzburg Global’s multi-year series Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA). More information on the session can be found here. You can follow all of the discussions on Twitter by following the hashtag #SSASA.

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Report now online - Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills
Report now online - Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills
Salzburg Global Seminar staff 
The report of the Salzburg Global session Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills is now available to read, download and share. The 2016 session of the multi-year series Education for Tomorrow’s World brought together forty education leaders and other stakeholders from around the world to explore the challenges and benefits of fostering SEL (Social and Emotional Learning), including how this will affect the development of academic skills and more general testing of learners’ abilities. The session was held in partnership with ETS.  Emerging evidence in education, psychology, neuroscience, and economics suggests that SEL skills can also be measured and developed to help improve academic achievement, reduce negative behaviors, and enrich interpersonal relationships. Cultivating SEL skills through a more systematic approach could therefore have long-term benefits for learners, schools and colleges, and workplaces. Policymakers, educators, innovators and researchers benefited from structured exchanges to identify the state of the evidence, policy challenges and viable solutions for measuring and enhancing SEL skills. Participants approached this topic in session-wide discussions and smaller breakout groups to consider how best to strengthen social and emotional skills through education policy, curricular development, assessment, and whole school policies. This report presents key points of discussion, debate and learning from the Salzburg session, as well as final recommendations summarized in the session Fellows' co-created Salzburg Statement on Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills.
Download the report as a PDF
The Salzburg Global session Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills, which is part of the multi-year Education for Tomorrow's World. This session was held in partnership with ETS (Educational Testing Service). More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/566
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Salzburg Global Fellow Tonia Casarin wins Global Impact Challenge
Salzburg Global Fellow Tonia Casarin wins Global Impact Challenge
Oscar Tollast 
Salzburg Global Fellow Tonia Casarin is celebrating after being declared a winner of the Global Impact Challenge in Brazil. The competition, promoted by Singularity University, encouraged entrants to come up with an idea to improve the lives of people in Brazil and beyond. This year’s projects addressed areas such as education access, education for socio-ecomotional skills, project-based education, and education for the environment. Casarin, an educational entrepreneur, submitted a proposal to build a platform to assess, train, certificate and coach teachers in social and emotional learning. Earlier this month, Casarin discovered her project earned her a full sponsorship to attend the Global Solutions Program at Singularity University. The program runs between June 17 and August 17. Singularity University is a global learning and innovation community with a mission to address humanity’s greatest challenges. Casarin, who’s dedicated her career to developing social and emotional learning skills, attended Salzburg Global Seminar in 2016 as a participant of Session 566 - Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills. This was the second international meeting in Salzburg Global's multi-year series on Education for Tomorrow's World. Its aim was to help support collaborative action to advance the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  During this session, Casarin sat down with Salzburg Global to explain a parent’s role in teaching their children social and emotional learning skills.  Casarin believes the first step in developing 21st-century skills is knowing how to identify feelings. Her book, “I Have Monsters In My Tummy,” is a resource for children to learn to recognize their emotions.
Tonia Casarin was a participant at Session 566 - Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills. This session was held in partnership with ETS, with additional support from Robert Bosch Stiftung. It features as part of the multi-year Education for Tomorrow's World. More information for the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/566
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David Anthony – “Play should not be a luxury for children but an integral part of their development and growth”
David Anthony – “Play should not be a luxury for children but an integral part of their development and growth”
Andrea Abellan 
With half of the world population living in cities, there is an urgent need to reflect on the impact of urban growth and the consequences it might have, namely, a lack of basic services, inequality and widening gaps between the poor and the rich. David Anthony, Chief of Sustainability and Policy Action at UNICEF, wants to view these challenges as opportunities to create better-planned cities which have children at the core of their systems. During The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play, Anthony sat down with Salzburg Global's Andrea Abellan to discuss his views.

 AA: One of the values contemplated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a legal framework for UNICEF’s work, recognizes the right of children “to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.” How does UNICEF work toward the protection of this right?DA: UNICEF has understood how children’s demands have evolved over the years. When we started to work we were focused on offering legal support to children and protecting them against sexual abuses and physical exploitation. However, children’s rights to express themselves, associate, have leisure, and participate in cultural interactions have always been part of the convention. 

In UNICEF we acknowledge that play should not be a luxury for children but an integral part of their development and growth. We are very conscious of the need to promote this right, and we work to create safe and clean environments for children to learn, grow and play that are absolutely vital. We run projects such as the Child Friendly Cities Initiative (CFC) that seeks to provide guidelines and support to transform cities into spaces able to match children’s needs.

 AA. How does UNICEF integrate both developed and developing countries in its campaigns?

 DA: We run programs in 140 countries at all income levels, and we partner with different social agents, from local NGOs to private companies or academic people. I would say that one of the biggest challenges is to plan initiatives that are cost-effective, that allow us to do as best as we can at reasonable costs. We look for projects that can be maintained over time because same solutions might not be practical in different countries. For instance, it is fundamental to have green spaces in urban settlements, but it is equally relevant to consider how these spaces are going to be preserved otherwise they will disappear very quickly. It is not the same to build a park in a tropical environment with highly irregular levels of rainfall than in a Northern Hemisphere climate space. 

We also pay attention to the notion of inequality within the metropolises. Parks are usually located in the centers of the cities. That means that most vulnerable communities, which tend to live in cities’ outskirts, do not have easy access to them. We should put fragile communities on the top of our priorities, so we can effectively look for the best strategies to successfully integrate them. 

 AA: During this session, The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play, the topic of climate change and how it specifically influences children has arisen several times. What is your perspective on this subject?

 DA: There are approximately 2.2 billion children in the word; two billion of them are affected by the impact of climate change. We are talking about a whole generation of children that grow up suffering the consequences of climate change such as floods and droughts. There are other related issues to consider as well, meaning water scarcity and respiratory infections caused by air pollution. If we continue building unplanned cities and polluting the planet at this rate, we will have more children at risk than ever before.   

At the same, cities themselves have always come up with solutions. Electricity, water supply systems, trade, and community participation are just some of the resources that were developed within the cities. There are many cities starting to be built from scratch in Africa and Asia; I see strong opportunities to influence how they are designed and start making them child-friendly from the beginning. 

 AA: The hardships of prioritizing green areas among other basic needs such as food security or health-related issues have also been discussed during this session. What do you think about it? 

DA: Because health, nutrition and education are such important topics it does not mean that we always have to prioritize them over other subjects. One of the factors fostering problems such as crime or radicalization is the inability to find activities for young people. One of the most cost effective solutions would be to promote leisure amongst young people so they can learn how to use their time wisely.

It is not a matter of health versus leisure; it’s more a question of how to be able to work on every aspect of a healthy development. In my opinion, we should invest in making people more conscious of the benefits of play. In this way, they will create leisure spaces themselves or demand them to the authorities. And when the request exists, the supply aspect tends to be more flexible.
David Anthony was a participant in the Salzburg Global program The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play, which is part of the multi-year Parks for the Planet Forum, a series held in partnership with the IUCN. The session was supported by the Huffington Foundation, Parks Canada and Korea National Park and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/574
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