Past Program


Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is one of the hottest topics in global education today. Evidence shows that SEL can help young people acquire the skills to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution and shape new jobs and career pathways. SEL skills can also help communities and populations grapple with complex change and advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SEL skills help refugee and migrant children adapt to their new environments and can help host communities better prepare and adapt to demographic changes. There is also a compelling evidence base that shows how SEL programs help with academic attainment, can reduce bullying in schools and can help with mental health in a wide variety of situations, including in post-traumatic contexts.

On the demand side, there are compelling calls from around the world for the systematic development and embedding of social and emotional learning opportunities in education systems. Unusually, these demand side drivers are now coming from industry, private sector and economists as well as from education, health, aid, development and civil society organizations  On the supply side, however, it is still rare to find SEL opportunities integrated at a system-wide level in national education sectors or embedded across education responses to crises and emergencies.  At global level, the three most frequently cited barriers relate to teacher preparation, curriculum design, and perceived challenges around measurement and assessment. There are also significant constituencies who for different reasons do not consider SEL opportunities to be important and relevant in education.

Recent years have seen the emergence and/or expansion of a number of national and regional SEL initiatives in different parts of the world. Despite this, there are few, if any, opportunities for leaders, influencers, researchers and practitioners from different networks, be they mainstream, crisis, and conflict or extra-curricular to share their insights and learning  This program – the latest in Salzburg Global Seminar’s series on Education for Tomorrow’s World – will connect key stakeholders across sectors, regions and cultures to share and critique a range of policies and practice, analyzing what has or has not worked in order to develop scalable recommendations for future educational reform.

The March 2019 program will build on insights from the series of regional and global workshops organized by Salzburg Global and partners in order to advance solutions to the key challenges that hinder the implementation of SEL programs in education systems and institutional practice around the world. Participants from across the world will explore best SEL practices in different geographic and cultural settings, including education in crisis and emergency contexts, to develop tools and approaches to help scale up SEL to meet the needs of societies and economies of the future. 


This five-day highly-interactive session, held at Schloss Leopoldskron, home of Salzburg Global Seminar, will provide a retreat environment to stimulate new thinking and insights around ways to overcome existing and anticipated blockages to the establishment of SEL programs.
Participants will compare theory, policy and practice from across different SEL networks, opening up new perspectives and intensive learning opportunities.

The program will combine presentations by groundbreaking practitioners, cross-sector panel discussions, and curated conversations. Participants will also work in smaller focus groups that meet several times to develop ideas, arguments and new approaches in greater depth.


Salzburg Global Seminar’s Education for Tomorrow’s World programs seek to bring together cross-sector and cross-generational change-makers to tackle complex challenges.
For this program, around 40 participants from widely varying education systems and sectors will come together on equal terms to examine cutting edge insights into SEL policies, curricula and assessment and to develop compelling arguments for the fundamental necessity of SEL programs as a key education reform driver to optimize all students’ opportunities and to improve educational outcomes.

Participants will include leaders and key stakeholders from established and emerging SEL networks, global education change makers, representatives of Ministries of Education, experts in education in crisis and conflict contexts, representatives of industry and new technologies, researchers and academics, civil society organizations, and media.


Over the course of the five-day program, participants will address the following questions:

  1. How do we convince the unconvinced? The argument for SEL is not yet won and as SEL programs become more established and better known, there may be more push back from stakeholders with differing priorities.
  2. What does current best SEL practice look like and how can it be developed in new parts of the world?
  3. How important is definitional clarity around key SEL concepts as the work moves forward?
  4. What SEL training will teachers and other educators need, and how can they develop their own social and emotional skills?
  5. What does a 21st century curriculum need to look like? How can the full range of learning opportunities that contribute towards the acquisition of social and emotional skills be recognized?
  6. How do we measure social and emotional skills in a way which is equitable and does not lead to cultural normalization?
  7. What are the next steps that education leaders and other stakeholders can take to leverage SEL opportunities?
  8. How can we create better collaboration and learning across different education systems?


During and immediately after the Salzburg program, participants and staff will co-create a number of strategic products to leverage the learning and recommendations from the meeting:

  • Advocacy: A Salzburg Statement will be jointly drafted to respond concisely to the Key Questions and serve as a call to action to help participants personally as well as their institutions and communities.
  • Online engagement: A series of Twitter debates will be launched following the program to continue online engagement on a monthly basis around key questions raised through the program.
  • Multimedia outreach: A series of webinars and podcasts will discuss and disseminate the Salzburg Statement and multiply its impact in different settings. These will provide an opportunity to engage with many more people than are present at the meeting and bring the outcomes to new audiences.
  • Impact report: A report will subsequently be published summarizing the program as well as highlights from the Twitter and webinar debates that follow it.



Larry Aber
Willner Family Professor of Psychology and Public Policy, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and University Professor at New York University, USA
Omar Al-Tal
Head of Education in Emergency, Mercy Corps, Jordan
Asmaa Alfadala
Director, Research & Content Dissemination, WISE
Adam Beeson
Co-Founder, Head of School and Academic Director, SI Global Academy, USA
Margi Bhatt
Coordinator, Education Policy, INEE - Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies, USA
Ayla Bonfiglio
Principal and Founder, Conflict and Education Learning Laboratory (CELL Foundation), Netherlands
Reginald Braggs
Assistant Vice President, American University of Nigeria, Nigeria
Susan Bruckner
Senior International Technical Advisor, Education Development Centre (EDC), USA
Pauline Cleaver
Associate Deputy Secretary, Early Learning and Student Achievement, Ministry of Education, New Zealand Government, New Zealand
Zoubeida Dagher
Professor of Science Education at the School of Education; Faculty Fellow, Center for Science, Ethics, and Public Policy; University of Delaware, USA
Dalhatu Darazo
Chief of Party, Family Health International, Nigeria
Silvia Diazgranados
Senior Education Research Advisor, International Rescue Committee, USA
Manjula Dissanayake
Founder, Educate Lanka, United States/Sri Lanka
Liam Duffy
Director, SINCE 9/11, UK
Samar El Ahmadieh
Specialist in Educational Psychology; Assistant Professor, Lebanese University, Lebanon
Garba Dahiru Gandu
Deputy Director, Research, Nigeria Education Research & Development Council (NERDC), Nigeria
Joseph Gyte
Senior Program Associate, Capacity Building Department, Hedayah, United Arab Emirates
Saleh Hammad
Capacity Building and Quality Management Officer, Mercy Corps, Jordan
Md Mahamudul Hoque
Additional Secretary, Ministry of Education, Bangladesh Secretariat, Bangladesh
Stephanie Jones
Professor of Education, Harvard University, USA
Frank Kiyingi
Executive Director, Advocacy for Child Relief, Uganda
Monika Kochowicz
Conflict Resolution Educator, Red Cross, Poland
Liman Mahdi
Head of Department, Materials Development, State Agency for Mass Education, Damaturu Yobe State, Nigeria
Lucy Maina
Ujana360 Program Manager, ziziAfrique Foundation, Kenya
Sheila Mbiru
Low Emission and Climate Resilient Development Project, Knowledge Management & Capacity Development Office, Kenya
Sylvaine von Mende
Senior International Advisor for Pedagogy, Education Development Center, Canada
Carey Meyers
Director of Communications, The Helmsley Charitable Trust, USA
Bassem Nasir
Education Specialist for Skills, Programme Division, Gender Equality, Adolescence and Skills for Employability, UNICEF, USA
Michael Nettles
Senior Vice President and Edmund W. Gordon Chair of Policy Evaluation and Research, Educational Testing Service (ETS), USA
Carol O'Donnell
Executive Director, Smithsonian Science Education, Smithsonian Institution, USA
Amor Ouelbani
General Director of Exams, Ministry of Education, Tunisia
Louka Parry
Executive Committee Member, Karanga: The Global Alliance for SEL and Life Skills, Australia
Gerhard Pulfer
Portfolio Manager for Education in Displacement, Porticus, Austria
Chris Purifoy
Chief Architect and CEO, Learning Economy, USA
Janet Rafner
Director of Education, ScienceAtHome, Aarhus University, Denmark
Ana Rold
CEO and Publisher, Diplomatic Courier, USA
Samuel Rushworth
Co-Director, GCRF Global Engagement Network, UK
Urvashi Sahni
Founding President and CEO, Study Hall Education Foundation, India
Toshiaki Sasao
Professor and Director, International Christian University, Japan
Jackson Smith
Co-Founder & CTO, Learning Economy, USA
Lindsay Stark
Associate Professor of Public Health and Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis, USA
Leslee Udwin
Founder and President, Think Equal, UK


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Download the program newsletters as a PDF

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All images are available for download. Please credit Salzburg Global Seminar/Katrin Kerschbaumer. Unwatermarked images are available on request.


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Bailey, Rebecca. Jones, Stephanie M.. “An Integrated Model of Regulation for Applied Settings”. Springer Link: Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, February 19, 2019.

Bailey, Rebecca. Stickle, Laura. Brion-Meisels, Gretchen. Jones, Stephanie M.. “Re-imagining social-emotional learning: Finding from a strategy-based approach”. Phi Delta Kappan, January 21, 2019.

Blad, Evie. "Schools Should Teach (and Measure) 'Soft Skills,' Parents and Educators Agree." Blog. Education Week. August 2018. 

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Jones, Stephanie M.. Kahn, Jennifer. “The Evidence Base for How We Learn: Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development”. The Aspen Institute, September 13, 2017.

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Life Skills and Citizenship Education Initiative – Middle East and North Africa. Life Skills and Citizenship Education Conceptual and Programmatic Framework: Regional Launch Report. Amman: UNICEF MENA Regional Office, October 10, 2017.

Life Skills and Citizenship Education Initiative – Middle East and North Africa. Reimagining Life Skills and Citizenship Education in the Middle East and North Africa: A Four-Dimensional and Systems Approach to 21st Century Skills: Conceptual and Programmatic Framework. Amman: UNICEF MENA Regional Office, October 20, 2017. [Executive Report: EnglishArabic].

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Miyamoto, Koji, Maria C. Huerta, and Katarzyna Kubacka. “Fostering Social and Emotional Skills for Well-Being and Social Progress.” European Journal of Education, 2015.

Murphy-Graham, Erin. Cohen, Alison K. "Life skills education for adolescents in developing countries: What are they and why do they matter?

NESET II. "Strengthening Social and Emotional Education as a core curricular area across the EU." European Union. 2018.

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O'Donnell, Carol. "Science Education, Identity, and Civic Engagement: Empowering Youth through the UN Sustainable Development Goals." G7 Executive Talk Series. 2018.

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