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.

Maria de Kruijf - “We will be able to improve our projects and have a better view of citizens’ demands”
Maria de Kruijf - “We will be able to improve our projects and have a better view of citizens’ demands”
Andrea Abellan 
During discussions at Salzburg Global’s The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play, participants have debated issues around accessibility, equity, and the need to open up green spaces to everyone. Maria de Kruijf, a participant, and associate at the De Verre Bergen Foundation spoke with Andrea Abellan to discuss how she has previously sought to create stronger communities within a city, and how this may apply to work moving forward. Nearly half of the population in Rotterdam - the second largest city in the Netherlands - have an immigrant background. More than 170 nationalities live together in this metropolis located alongside Europe’s largest port. Concerns related to multiculturalism emerge frequently. De Kruijf, as an associate for De Verre Bergen Foundation, is one of many looking to address these concerns and create a stronger and more equal place to live. De Kruijf started her career as a highschool teacher, a job she decided to leave while looking to get involved in projects that “could have a positive impact not only on certain groups of people but on a whole city.” At De Verre Bergen Foundation, De Kruijf ’s efforts are focused on Rotterdam. De Kruijf says there is a lack of dialogue between the cultures represented in the city. De Kruijf explains, “People who have lived in the Netherlands for years might feel intimidated by recent immigrants. The financial crisis cost many jobs, and there are some groups blaming foreigners for this.” De Kruijf also has concerns surrounding the rising inequality between population groups in the city. De Verre Bergen Foundation, founded in 2011, seeks to overcome these challenges by supporting diverse social ventures. The organization follows a holistic approach designed to foster real integration. One of its latest projects has provided 200 Syrian families with accommodation, language courses, and bureaucratic support. De Kruij feels very positive regarding the outcomes achieved at this session. She says her interaction with other participants has made her reflect on the need to “invest time in talking with different social groups to learn what their demands are. In this way, we will be able to improve our projects and have a better view of citizens’ demands what hopefully will help them to feel greater represented by our programs, especially when it comes to a program about their own public spaces.”
The Salzburg Global program The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play is part of the multi-year Parks for the Planet Forum, a series held in partnership with the IUCN and Huffington Foundation. The session is being supported by Parks Canada and Korea National Park. It is being sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. More information on the session can be found here: - You can follow all the discussions on Twitter by following the hashtag #SGSparks 
Helen Cowie encourages peer support to help tackle bullying
Helen Cowie encourages peer support to help tackle bullying
Andrea Abellan 

Professor Helen Cowie, who has developed an expertise on peer community training benefits, attended Salzburg Global’s session on Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills. During the six-day program, Fellows working in many different fields discussed the importance of including Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills on the curriculums, seeking to help students achieve better academic and social skills.  

Professor Cowie’s research focuses on bullying and how to tackle it through peer support. She defines bullying as “a situation where a person or group of persons deliberately and repeatedly, enact behaviors designed to make another person hurt, psychologically or physically.” Professor Cowie points out bullying issues do not only involve victims and perpetrators, but also concern witnesses. “The audience behavior will determine if the victims remain in that role for a long time or whether they can escape of it,” she states.

According to Professor Cowie, these violent attitudes should be faced through “interconnected interventions” having different methodologies working together. She understands schools as “restoratives places” where children should learn to reflect on their behaviors, amend their mistakes and work towards their future with empathy.

Professor Cowie explains that the “restorative approach” she stands for is already widely adopted in the UK and hopes seminars such as Salzburg Global will encourage a wider dissemination of similar projects.

To see the full interview, check out the clip below.

Salzburg Global Fellows included in "Top 25 Women in Higher Education and Beyond"
Salzburg Global Fellows included in "Top 25 Women in Higher Education and Beyond"
Oscar Tollast 

Two Salzburg Global Fellows have been acknowledged as two of the top 25 women in higher education and beyond.

Diverse Issues In Higher Education magazine has recognized both Dr. Stella Flores and Dr. Susana Maria Muñoz for their significant contributions.

The magazine is a biweekly trade publication which reports on diversity, access, and opportunity for all in higher education. 

The Top 25 Women in Higher Education & Beyond features in the magazine’s March 9 edition.

It highlights Dr. Flores as an “expert” in higher education issues and describes her research as having a “wide and influential scope.” It refers to Dr. Munoz and her research on “issues of college access, persistence and identity among under-represented student populations.”

Dr. Flores, Professor of Education at New York University, and Dr. Muñoz, Associate Professor of Education at Colorado State University, both attended Session 537 Students at the Margins and the Institutions that Serve Them: A Global Perspective.

The goals of the session included developing a database for institutions serving marginalized populations worldwide. This database would act as a common reference point for facilitating interested parties and sharing knowledge and practices.

The session also aimed to create a global network of individuals and institutions interested in the practical implementation of issues, including student learning, gender parity, and affirmative action.

In addition to these aims, the session was designed to stimulate fresh thinking on how colleges and universities could most effectively provide educational opportunities to disadvantaged and marginalized people.

During the session, Dr. Flores spoke to Salzburg Global about how affirmative action was disappearing in U.S. states and the detrimental impact this was having. Meanwhile, Dr. Muñoz talked to Salzburg Global about the many challenges undocumented students faced in higher education, including the constant fear they or their family could be deported.

This program concluded with session partners Salzburg Global, Educational Testing Service (ETS), and the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions committing to help participants take their ideas forward. To read a report of this session, please click here

Fellows collaborate to tackle extremism in Africa
Fellows collaborate to tackle extremism in Africa
Denise Macalino 
Eighty years since the first Jewish detainees were murdered in the Dachau Concentration Camp, and the world is still grappling with the question of how the Holocaust was able to happen. In the decades following, the political slogan “Never Again” has rung hollow in societies affected by other 20th century genocides in Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda. The questions remain: How can genocide be deterred? Can the lessons from the Holocaust and other genocides serve as a theoretical and practical barrier to the possibility of future generations committing mass atrocities? What can the global community learn from the international application of Holocaust education to help us understand how to prevent violence in the future? What practical role can Holocaust education play in societies still grappling with difficult legacies of mass violence and genocide?

Salzburg Global’s 2016 Session,
Learning from the Past: Promoting Pluralism and Countering Extremism, brought together participants from countries recently troubled and recovering from the effects of mass, targeted violence. South Africans Tali Nates and Richard Freedman and Rwandans Freddy Mutanguha, Mubigalo Aloys Mahwa, left the session with a hopeful answer to tackling extremism through education. Facilitated by Salzburg Global Seminar, they have created this course to counter extremism and promote pluralism by learning from the difficult past through the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and Apartheid in South Africa. The aim of this collaboration is to build resistance to violence and help students develop the skills to challenge extremism. Their course is currently being piloted in South Africa and Rwanda, and if evaluated successfully, will be launched in a number of other African countries. Fellows Tali Nates, Richard Freedman, Freddy Mutanguha, and Aloys Mahwa are utilizing connections formed at Salzburg Global to reach audiences beyond South Africa and Rwanda, and to bring their program to scale. Tali Nates, Director of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre, stated that with the help of Salzburg Global, they plan to “bring our experiences to politicians, education policymakers, media, and civil society leaders.” By engaging specialists from multiple sectors, they plan to create lasting, positive impact for students around the continent.

Salzburg Global is able to continue this kind of positive work thanks to our generous donors, who believe in our mission. This collaboration, and further initiatives started at Salzburg Global would not be possible without our partners and funders. We’d like to express our gratitude to the United Stated Holocaust Memorial Museum, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and the Bosch Foundation, which supported the Fellows mentioned in this article.
Salzburg Global proud to support Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development
Salzburg Global proud to support Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development
Salzburg Global Seminar 
Salzburg Global is encouraging Fellows to sign up and take part in the inaugural Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development. The three-day event, which began on Wednesday (March 1), is taking place at the World Conference Center in Bonn, Germany. Leading thinkers, policy-makers, and business leaders are gathering at the event, which is being organized by the UN SDG Action Campaign and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). The festival is highlighting the latest innovations, tools, and approaches to SDG implementation while increasing awareness and understanding on how to drive action for sustainable development. Salzburg Global is one of several organizing partners for the event. Others include the City of Bonn, Cepei, Data-Pop Alliance, Engagement Global, Plan International, the UNDP, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI). The event has also received backing from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The UN SDG Action Campaign is an Initiative of the Secretary-General, which celebrates people who are transforming lives and tackling the most complex, intractable development problems. This campaign was launched at the festival on Wednesday and will aim to provide real-time cutting-edge advocacy support, big data expertise, and analytics to governments and multi-stakeholder partners to ensure the Sustainable Development Goals agenda is carried out. The 193 Member States of the UN committed to achieving 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. People due to speak at the festival included Global Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign Mitchell Toomey and Ingrid Gabriela-Hoven, the Director General of Global Issues, Sector Policies and Programmes for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Other speakers lined up were Alaa Murabit, leading international advocate for inclusive peace processes and UN SDG Advocate, Sarah Poole, Deputy Assistant Administrator, UNDP, Meng Zhaoli, Chief Economist at Tencent, one of the world’s biggest internet companies, David Donoghue, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations and Kumi Naidoo, Launch Director, Africans Rising For Justice, Peace and Dignity. Mitchell Toomey, Director of the UN SDG Action Campaign, said, “We are here to connect the private sector, governments, and civil society to provide them with the latest innovations and approaches to realize the SDGs. We have to make sure they can bring real solutions to their regions and inspire billions of people everywhere to work together to take action for sustainable development.” Alex Thier, Executive Director of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), said, “The inaugural Festival will chart new thinking on the world’s biggest development challenges and mobilize key partnerships and resources to drive action now and in the future.” Ingolf Dietrich, Commissioner for Agenda 2030, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), said, “I am pleased to open the first Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development in Bonn. This Festival, supported by the German government, has brought together people from all over the world to advance the 2030 Agenda.  “The UN SDG Action Campaign, and its Global Campaign Center in Bonn is a testament to the universal nature of the SDGs that will be a core theme at this year’s Festival and those to come. The aim of the 2030 Agenda is to bring about fundamental lifestyle changes in all spheres of society, to help to protect and sustain life and the climate on our planet.” This year's Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development is the first in the series of annual forums. People can watch plenary sessions taking place at the festival via live-stream. To sign up, use this online form. People can also keep up to date with the festival on social media. The Global Festival of Ideas has a Facebook and Twitter presence. The hashtag to use during the festival is #GFI4SD.
Suicide and sinking tragedy show why social and emotional skills are so important for students
Eun-su Cho at Salzburg Global Seminar
Suicide and sinking tragedy show why social and emotional skills are so important for students
Chris Hamill-Stewart 
  South Korea has the highest suicide rate in the OECD, and the second highest globally. The importance of image in Korea, media coverage of celebrity suicides, and poor mental health care are among the reasons cited as reasons why so many Koreans choose to take their own lives. These factors play a role, but many also
cite the education system, and the competitive culture surrounding it, as another critical factor. The theory holds weight; in Korea, the youth suicide rate is abnormally high. Suicide is the biggest killer of Korean teenagers, those in their twenties, and those in their thirties.

The Korean education system is highly competitive; there is a huge emphasis on performing well in school and going to good universities. Korean high school students average sixteen hours a day of school-related activities, in school, or in hagwons – after-school programs for additional education. Many researchers believe this complete devotion to education undoubtedly contributes to the high rate of suicide.

The influence education has on wellbeing has been an important issue at the Salzburg Global session
Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills. Participants have looked in-depth at how education systems can be improved by better developing students’ Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Salzburg Global spoke with Korean participants and staff about the effects that their education system has on students, and to look at how SEL might be able to improve this.

Bina Jeon, a student in Korea and Yoojin Hong, a graduate, can attest to the need to utilize and teach more SEL skills. Both now interns with Salzburg Global Seminar, they found high school very stressful and competitive, and neither was happy. “When I had problems or felt stressed, the school didn’t provide me support – I found my support at home or with friends,” says Jeon. Hong’s experience was worse – she found that the competitive system affected her friendships, leaving her isolated from her friends if she or they achieved a higher grade. She “grew apart from her best friend from the moment she got a significantly higher grade then her.” It is not difficult to see how a culture of education like this may, in extreme cases, lead to children making rash and irreversible decisions.

Eun-su Cho, a philosophy professor in the top Korean university, Seoul National University, attended the session not to further her own academic research but to “find ways to improve her undergraduate and graduate students’ lives.” She says many of her brilliant students, with the top grades, are very quiet – they’re reserved and they don’t open up. The core of this is that they have “very little confidence.” This is not the attitude she wants her students to have.

Cho wants students to “have ideas about the future, society and their fellow citizens.” She argues that facilitating more SEL education would give students a chance to show who they are and to understand themselves better, which would build their confidence, and ultimately create better students and future leaders.

Heejin Park, a research fellow focusing on character education at the Korean Educational Development Institute, believes that things are changing in Korea, and they are starting to see the benefits of SEL skills. Park cites the 2014 MV Sewol tragedy as an important revelation for Koreans. The incident saw nearly 300 high school students drown when their ferry sank on a school trip and it made many in Korea realize that they may not be teaching students to think critically. Park asks if lives could have been saved had the students been taught to “think more autonomously.” She believes that the tragedy brought about public support for new legislation calling for more social and emotional learning, making sure that teachers are more engaged with their students and that they go further in teaching critical thinking and life skills.

Cho, Jeon and Hong all paint a dismal picture for the lives of students in the Korea, but it is worth considering the facts. In their latest PISA results, the OECD has just ranked Korea as the seventh best country in the world for both math and reading. Their education in cognitive subjects is exceptional, but the hard truth of Park’s point remains: sometimes it is not enough to just teach students to excel at math and literacy. SEL development is increasingly being recognized as important for students and into adulthood.

Korean education is opening up to the positive effects of SEL. For example, in light of attending this Salzburg Global session, Cho says she has “more of a sense of mission - it’s been a really valuable opportunity, and I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned with my own students, but also trying to help implement it more widely on campus.” However, with such deeply ingrained ideas, culture, and norms surrounding the education system, it remains to be seen whether the implementation of these ideas will spread beyond those who participate in Salzburg Global sessions.
The Salzburg Global Session Getting Smart: Measuring and Evaluating Social and Emotional Skills part of the Salzburg Global series Education for Tomorrow's World, was hosted in partnership with ETS. More information on the session can be found here:
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: 
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