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Salzburg Cutler Fellow Serves as Rapporteur for Public Sector Strategy Network Meeting
Ashley Finger taking notes at the annual meeting of the Public Sector Strategy Network
Salzburg Cutler Fellow Serves as Rapporteur for Public Sector Strategy Network Meeting
Ashley Finger 

This article was first published by the University of Virginia's School of Law. To visit the original article, please click here.

Ashley Finger, a 2018 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and a participant in this year’s Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program, recently served as rapporteur for the Salzburg Global Seminar. From May 13-15 in Salzburg, Austria, she documented the conference “Mechanics for the Future: How Can Governments Transform Themselves?” The public policy meeting drew high-level representatives from governments around the world.

My primary role as rapporteur to the Salzburg Global Seminar, held earlier this month, was to take detailed notes on the proceedings, which will be synthesized into a final report and published by Salzburg Global Seminar sometime this summer. The report will analyze themes in government innovation based on the panels, workshops and talks.

The experience ended up being much less pen-to-paper and much more engaging than I thought it would be. I got to participate in a policymaking simulation on the use of artificial intelligence in health care decisions, and I was able to meet and engage with public-sector leaders from around the world, often about substantive, global issues.

Representatives came from all over, including Australia, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Portugal, the U.K., France and Finland, to name a few. Participants included secretaries of state, ministers, agency directors and senior advisers.

Everyone was simultaneously incredibly accomplished and down-to-earth with boundless positive energy and enthusiasm for improving their countries and the world.

What stood out to me the most about this experience is how it blended together the many facets of my career. As a former physicist (although, the physics community would say there is no such thing as a former physicist, only a physicist who has changed careers), I was able to engage with the technological aspects of the discussions, which allowed for greater understanding of the policy implications.

And as a former intern with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, I had both working knowledge of the policymaking process and a background in some of the subject areas, such as autonomous vehicles — a field that has developed tremendously since my time on Capitol Hill.

In addition, some of the more unconventional classes I've taken in law school enriched my experience.

Professor Mila Versteeg's Comparative Constitutional Law course proved invaluable in grasping the varied government structures at play in the discussions.

Professor John Norton Moore's seminar, War and Peace: New Thinking About the Causes of War and War Avoidance, gave me a more nuanced perspective on intergovernmental relations.

The conference was organized by Salzburg Global Seminar, an organization based in Salzburg with an office in Washington, D.C., that regularly organizes topical conferences and seminars to share knowledge across governmental entities. Participants discuss both successes and failures in order to learn from one another.

The event was co-hosted by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court (a center for government innovation and citizen interface in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) and Apolitical, a journalism organization focused on sharing stories in government innovation.


Mechanics for the Future: How Can Governments Transform Themselves? is part of the Public Sector Strategy Network, a multi-year initiative held in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court and in cooperation with Apolitical. More information on this session can be found here.

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Salzburg Global LGBT Forum Helps Commemorate IDAHOT 2018
Salzburg Global LGBT Forum Helps Commemorate IDAHOT 2018
Oscar Tollast 

The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum helped mark this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) by helping to highlight the need for alliances.

On May 17, Klaus Mueller, founder and chair of the LGBT Forum, spoke at an event organized by the World Bank and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs.

Mueller took part in a panel discussion featuring speakers from the Council of Europe, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and ERA - LGBTI Equal Rights Association.

This year’s IDAHOT theme is “Alliances for Solidarity.” Mueller and speakers, who convened at the World Bank’s Vienna office, helped convey the importance of alliances for the LGBT* community. In particular, Mueller emphasized the necessity of global alliances, such as the Forum, and its outreach to governments and transnational institutions.

Speakers also addressed the need for more data on the economic costs of excluding LGBT* people. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights announced plans to launch a second EU-wide survey on the discrimination of LGBT* people, which will also take into account bullying that takes place in schools.

Speaking after the event, Mueller said, “The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum deeply believes in making these connections, in extending our network and creating new lines of communication and cooperation. In the context of the continuing globalization of the LGBT* human rights movement, positive advances of and backlashes against LGBT* rights are now interconnected at a previously unseen scale. While equal rights for LGBT* people increasingly are understood as fundamental human rights, we also witness a rise of homo - and transphobia as a marker of cultural identity, national sovereignty or religious purity.

“In 78 states, governments legitimize and sponsor violence against LGBT* people and communities The challenges confronting the LGBT* and human rights movements are no longer only national or regional, but are influenced by a multitude of factors at the global level.”

Mueller thanked the World Bank and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs - both partners of the LGBT Forum - for inviting him to take part in the discussion. He paid tribute to the World Bank’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity team, led by its global advisor - and Salzburg Global Fellow - Clifton Cortez. Mueller also expressed his gratitude to Ambassador Gerhard Doujak, head of the Human Rights and Minority Issues Department at the the Austrian Federal Ministry.

This event marked the second year the LGBT Forum held a joint IDAHOT commemoration with the World Bank. In celebration of IDAHOT 2017, the LGBT Forum and the World Bank joined forces to call for inclusion and equality for families and their LGBT* children around the world.

Last year’s IDAHOT theme was LGBT families. This theme was partly inspired after Tamara Adrian, chair of the IDAHOT Committee, participated in the Forum and its three-year video project called “Family is…?” Adrian was one of several Forum members to speak about their families of birth, their families of choice and the families they raise. This project was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth. Adrian has attended every session of the LGBT Forum and was in Salzburg last year to celebrate IDAHOT.

For more information about this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, please click here.

*LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum uses this term as it is currently widely used in human rights conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as exclusive of other cultural concepts, contemporary or historical, to express sexuality and gender, intersex and gender-nonconforming identities.

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Looking Forward - Officials Reflect on Need for Foresight and Innovation in the Public Sector
Looking Forward - Officials Reflect on Need for Foresight and Innovation in the Public Sector
Oscar Tollast 

Senior officials from governments and multilateral institutions went back to the future earlier this month as they met for the annual meeting of the Public Sector Strategy Network.

Nearly 30 participants from 16 countries took part in the three-day meeting titled
Mechanics for the Future: How Can Governments Transform Themselves? The meeting was held at Salzburg Global Seminar in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court and in cooperation with Apolitical.

The program supported interactive debate and hands-on problem-solving under the Chatham House Rule.  It provided a rare opportunity for senior officials to engage informally with a select group of dynamic peers, away from media and gatekeepers, and test out ideas for immediate follow-up at the technical level.

Through interactive debate and hands-on problem solving, participants discussed the top priorities and risks facing their countries around the world and were encouraged to develop new ways of thinking and consider alternative perspectives to apply to their day-to-day work.

Initial discussions focused on innovations in public service, optimizing procedures to counteract radical societal changes, and examining the role of future tech. Participants also worked through several case studies that focused on specific challenges they faced concerning workforce pressures and risks in three different countries to facilitate concrete exchange of ideas.

Participants reaffirmed the notion that identifying the problem is easy, while finding the solution is slightly more difficult. They broke up into smaller groups to explore the strategies for government reform and transformation in the areas of public finance, decentralization, and civil service reform.

A practical gamification session with simulated scenario planning allowed participants to examine the potential for advances in artificial intelligence in transforming how government will work and what steps they need to think about now to be prepared. After being divided into groups, participants explored multiple possible solutions and how they might react to events given their own differences in experience, expertise, or government role.  

The theme for the final day of the program was “Mechanisms for Change.” Participants reflected on their experiences with innovation and strategy teams advising national leadership, putting forward case studies which highlighted benefits and risks of new approaches.

As one participant summarized, the challenges faced by one government are challenges others have faced, are facing, and are likely to have tested solutions to resolve them. Year-round dialogue and exchange are essential to share ideas and experiences.

Speaking after the meeting, Charles Ehrlich, a program director at Salzburg Global Seminar, said, “The group of highly-thoughtful senior public servants who came together here at Schloss Leopoldskron underscored the need for governments to employ foresight, proactive innovation, and effective implementation across the public sector ecosystem.

“In the face of ever-more-rapid digital, financial, and societal disruptions, governments must constantly scan the horizon and anticipate trends. The conversations here considered how to strengthen public leadership and communication, sharing experiences, tools, and ideas, to create a congenial atmosphere of mutual support.”

The Public Sector Strategy Network first launched in 2010 as an annual high-level Round Table by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court. In 2017, Salzburg Global became the politically and geographically neutral convener of what has since become the Public Sector Strategy Network.  The Network is creating a dynamic platform for practical collaboration and impact, connecting governments and innovators leading the way to meet the opportunities and challenges ahead.


Mechanics for the Future: How Can Governments Transform Themselves? is part of the Public Sector Strategy Network, a multi-year initiative held in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court and in cooperation with Apolitical. More information on this session can be found here.

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YCI Project Helps Develop Historical Understanding of Memphis’ Past and Present
YCI Project Helps Develop Historical Understanding of Memphis’ Past and Present
Oscar Tollast 

A creative-writing project initially designed to bridge divides and help Memphis’ underserved communities thrive will leave behind a lasting physical imprint.

Project Gratus, the brainchild of Steven Fox, highlighted the theme of gratitude to create workshops that kick-started intergenerational conversations between the youth and elderly generation.

In addition to project-based workshops, dialogue and reflection sessions also took place, which then evolved into financial literacy workshops for youth and an MLK50 project Fox was selected for.

Fox said, “The mission of these workshops was to develop [a] historical understanding of past and current events, invoke empathy and leverage self-confidence, self-worth, creative and critical thinking skills necessary to help citizens thrive artistically, socially, educationally and economically.

“The need for this innovative approach was and still is high due to the persistent issue of childhood poverty, high crime rates and failing students/schools in the Memphis community.”

Fox is a writer and spoken-word artist who attended the third session of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. After participating in the session, Fox received a follow-on grant to push ahead with Project Gratus.

In June 2017, Project Gratus hosted financial literacy workshops at Ed Rice Community Center in the Frayser Area of Memphis, Tennessee. Educator and volunteer Dione Smith used a financial literacy curriculum called JA Our City.

In five sessions, twelve students from a third-grade social studies class were introduced to subjects such as the importance of economic exchange and how money is managed by people and businesses in cities.

As a result of the program, students were able to examine the importance of money to a city, why people pay taxes and develop an understanding of how entrepreneurs promote a healthy economy within a city.

Between August and September 2017, Project Gratus worked alongside Cliff Garten Studio, the City of Memphis, and the Urban Art Commission.

Together they looked at community workshops focused on the I Am A Man Plaza, based next to Clayborn Temple, a gathering place for Martin Luther King Jr. and sanitation workers before they marched during the Sanitation Workers Strike in 1968.  

As part of the interactive plaza, which opened last month a day after the 50th anniversary of King’s death, a stone sculpture was built. Fox wrote the text that is etched in it. He was recommended for the role by Lauren Kennedy, a fellow member of the Memphis YCI Hub. The plaza gives visitors the opportunity to interact with art and inspire future generations to stand up for positive change.

Discussing the content of the workshops, Fox said, “Each workshop included project details and proposed design elements for the I Am A Man Plaza, as well as a review of quotes and text identified from prominent civil rights leaders that will be incorporated in the plaza design. As collaborator… I led a conversation with participants to derive contemporary text for the plaza design.”

Project Gratus hosted workshops at the New Chicago Community Development Corporation, Orange Mound Community Center, Clayborn Temple, and Whitehaven Community Center.

Fox asked visitors how to honor the sanitation workers and if there was something they could say to them now, what would that be? Citizens were encouraged to be present with one another, learn from one another, and recognize the impact of the Sanitation Workers Strike.

Commenting on this methodology, Fox said, “When we do this, we will fulfill the purpose of the I Am A Man Plaza with intention, and it will truly be a place of reflection, inspiration and hard work. Through these workshops, our hope is that the community will recognize opportunities and actions through our commemorating the strike in the history of Memphis.”

For more information about the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators, please click here.

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Young Cultural Innovator Creates Online Poetry Archive
Visitors exploring the 2017 Detroit Art Book Fair (Picture: Maia Asshaq)
Young Cultural Innovator Creates Online Poetry Archive
Helena Santos 

A young cultural innovator (YCI) has created a free poetry audio archive where artists from all over the world can share their work in their mother tongue.

Maia Asshaq, a member of the Detroit YCI Hub, is hoping the Recording Reading Archive will provide a connection between artists that goes beyond the poetry readings she hosts in Detroit.

Asshaq, co-founder of the Detroit Art Book Fair and founder of DittoDitto, said, “Since many of those performances occur undocumented, and many of the performers live elsewhere my focus has shifted slightly from events to figuring out a way to connect these artists and make their work more accessible.”

The archive, which is available to access online, came about after Asshaq’s experience at the third session of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. During this session, Asshaq met a Japanese writer, Mariko Asabuki, with whom she connected through the power of poetry-reading.

Asshaq said, “Even though I can’t speak or understand Japanese, I was so curious as to how she may read her own work and what I could learn about it just by listening. I began work immediately on collecting recordings from friends and poets I was familiar with.”

After experimenting with playing pre-recorded poetry in both Paris and Berlin, Asshaq went back to Detroit where she designed a “sort of release party” with musician Matthew Conzett. Each month, Asshaq invites an experimental musician to incorporate recordings of their choice into a live performance. Musicians are then free to manipulate the recordings.

Asshaq timed the first official release party with the Detroit Art Book Fair, an annual event which draws thousands of people. This event featured performances from Detroit musicians Claire Cirocco and Matthew Conzett, which have since been added to the Recording Reading Archive.

The Recorded Reading Archive is available online, and even though the files cannot be downloaded, everyone can listen to the recordings for free. Asshaq said the archive gives “listeners a chance to not only listen to works by their friends and favorite writers but also to explore new work.” So far, the archive has more than 20 recordings.

This project was made possible after Asshaq received a follow-on grant after attending the YCI Forum at Salzburg Global Seminar. Discussing the next steps for the archive, she said, “In addition to building the archive and the monthly releases, my hope is that bookshops all over the world that I’ve built relationships with will feature the recordings as well. I am also trying to tap into existing archives and feature those sounds on my site as well.”

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Mechanics for the Future - How Can Governments Transform Themselves?
Governments are in a race against time to put mechanisms in place to help prepare their societies for a changing world
Mechanics for the Future - How Can Governments Transform Themselves?
Oscar Tollast 

A select group of senior officials from governments and multilateral institutions will convene at Salzburg Global Seminar this afternoon for the annual meeting of the Public Sector Strategy Network.

The Network was created at
a Round Table in Salzburg in 2017 to provide a platform for collaboration and to connect governments and innovators to face the challenges and opportunities ahead for their societies.

Participants at this year’s three-day meeting – Mechanics for the Future: How Can Governments Transform Themselves? – will explore several topics, including the top priorities and risks facing their countries, innovative trends in public service, and how to equip governments for a new era. The future of human capital and governing in the age of artificial intelligence will also be examined.

This meeting is part of a multi-year initiative which was first launched as an annual high-level Round Table by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court in 2010. Last year, Salzburg Global was chosen to be the politically and geographically neutral convener of what has since become the Public Sector Strategy Network. This year’s meeting is being held in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court and in cooperation with Apolitical.

During the meeting, participants will engage in interactive debate and hands-on problem-solving under the Chatham House Rule. They will be encouraged to test out new ideas which can be followed up afterward at a technical level.

In line with the Network’s goals, participants will be asked to consider how they could reimagine the design, delivery, and funding of core services and develop more effective partnerships and communication with citizens, civil society, and business. The Network aims to enable active ongoing peer-to-peer learning under the values of trust and open exchange and provide a space for the sharing of best practices.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Charles Ehrlich, a program director at Salzburg Global, said, “Complex challenges and opportunities are taking public sector leaders down uncharted paths. We need to understand the world today – and where it might be in 2030 or 2050. For governments to transform themselves, they will require the right mechanics, meaning both the mechanisms of government as well as the people in government whose job it is to fix things. Otherwise, events will leave the public sector behind, broken down at the side of the road. 

“We have gathered a small group of thoughtful, committed, public servants, who will not only examine the cross-cutting priorities and risks but will together build out the Public Sector Strategy Network to inspire new thinking and action at all levels across the globe.”


Mechanics for the Future: How Can Governments Transform Themselves? is part of the Public Sector Strategy Network, a multi-year initiative held in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court and in cooperation with Apolitical. More information on this session can be found here.

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Young Cultural Innovators “Move from Me to We” at Regional Meeting
Fellows and program staff who attended the second US regional meeting of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators
Young Cultural Innovators “Move from Me to We” at Regional Meeting
Oscar Tollast 

Young cultural innovators (YCIs) from Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans have strengthened their network following the conclusion of the second US regional YCI meeting.

This year’s program, supported by the Kresge Foundation, took place at the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans with 27 YCIs from both the third and fourth sessions of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators participating.

The two-day program involved YCIs taking part in a series of discussions, workshops, site visits, and interactive exercises.

Fellows from the New Orleans YCI Hub led site visits. This included an exhibition opening and performance of The Rent is Too Damn High, an event curated by YCI Fari Nzinga; an exhibition tour and talk from the Curator of the Contemporary Arts Centre, exploring new models for interdisciplinary arts centers; a walk-through of Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, a cultural corridor in New Orleans; and a tour of Studio BE showcasing work of Brandan 'Bmike' Odums.

The workshop’s theme was “Moving from Me to We,” exploring further what it means to be a YCI Hub and what YCIs want to accomplish as a community of Fellows in their cities and local communities.

Salzburg Global’s Young Cultural Innovators Forum has hubs in six regions around the globe. Hubs include Adelaide, Athens, Baltimore, Buenos Aires, Canada, Cape Town, Detroit, Malta, Manila, Memphis, Minnesota, Nairobi, New Orleans, Mekong Delta, Plovdiv, Rotterdam, Salzburg, Seoul, Slovakia, Tirana, and Tokyo.

Chase Cantrell, the founder of Building Community Value, based in Detroit, said, “Every time I get together with other YCIs, I realize how universal problems are in each of our cities. It has gotten me to think more about how to leverage the network for learning and collaboration.”

Yasmine Omari, marketing and education outreach coordinator at Germantown Performing Arts Center, said “meeting the YCI Fellows from the year before was really wonderful. Reconnecting with the YCIs from my year was also really great. I learn so much from listening to their struggles and projects that they are working on and it really makes me feel less alone in the work that I am doing.”

Alphonse Smith, director of place and civic design at the Arts Council New Orleans, said the experience of being able to evaluate his work and potential collaboration opportunities was productive. He said, “It challenged me to take a step back and critically reflect on the work. It was also nice to hear constructive feedback from non-New Orleans Hub members.”

YCIs were joined in New Orleans by Susanna Seidl-Fox, program director for culture and the arts at Salzburg Global, and Faye Hobson, a program associate at Salzburg Global. Clare Shine, vice president and chief program officer at Salzburg Global, and Andy Ho, US development Director at Salzburg Global, also attended the meeting to engage with Fellows. The program was led by YCI Forum facilitators Amina Dickerson, Peter Jenkinson, and Shelagh Wright.

Seidl-Fox said, “As creative change-makers, the YCIs confront similar challenges in their cities. Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans are all contending with social inequality, weak public education systems, high unemployment levels, economic disparities, and a general lack of public support for the cultural sector.   

“Working at the intersection of the arts and social change, all 27 YCIs are committed to addressing these challenges. This regional YCI meeting in New Orleans provided a rich opportunity for the YCIs to share experiences, coach each other, and strategize for the future. They represent and will shape the future of their cities.  

“Their energy, talent, and commitment are what Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans need to help them overcome the challenges of the 21st century.”

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators is a ten-year project of Salzburg Global Seminar that champions young artists and cultural change-makers who are using innovative and creative practices to catalyze civic, social, and urban transformation in their communities around the globe. For more information on the Forum, please click here.


The Regional Fellows Event is part of the multi-year Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators. More information on this event, which was supported by The Kresge Foundation, can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/594

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