Past Program

Jun 20 - Jun 23, 2019

Board of Directors Weekend: Living Dangerously - How Can We Get Real About Risk?


Risks are staring us in the face as the planet warms and societies crack. Never has so much ingenuity and data been available to drive human progress. Yet trust in governments and business has plunged. People are ‘fed up of experts’ and schoolkids have taken to the streets. Is the attention economy drowning out existential threats? How can leaders get real on risk?

Futures are getting harder to predict as climate, decolonization, and techno-colonization collide. Established rules and systems are under the spotlight as economic and environmental stresses interact with geopolitical and demographic shifts and cyber-insecurity. Young people are growing up in the ‘VUCA’ era, the unlovely term coined for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.

Worrying about the present and future is hardly new. W.H. Auden’s The Age of Anxiety appeared in 1947, when Salzburg Global Seminar was founded, and J.K. Galbraith’s The Age of Uncertainty followed in 1977. For many, however, 21st Century challenges are qualitatively different. Evidence from social psychology, behavioural economics and neuroscience shows how often human decisions are made with little regard for facts. In a digital world, partisan and populist voices shout down informed debate. Many media play up risk and lower the sense of agency. Globally, depression is a leading cause of illness and disability among adolescents.

For over 70 years, Salzburg Global Seminar has championed the duty of hope. We work with visionary and ethical leaders and changemakers to shape a better world. Improved foresight, delivery and innovation lie at the heart of our commitment to transform systems.

How can we shift the lens on risk and take advantage of exponential leaps in technology? How can we recalibrate decision-making in governments, boardrooms and enterprise? How can we restore play and the joy of risk in education?

This invitation only gala weekend will explore the future, expand horizons, and stretch the mind and legs in an inspiring mountain setting!