Hot Topic - Fellows Discuss Obstacles in Their Work

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Dec 12, 2018
by Anna Rawe
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Hot Topic - Fellows Discuss Obstacles in Their Work

Salzburg Global Fellows share their views during Healthy Children, Healthy Weight Salzburg Global Fellows share their views during Healthy Children, Healthy Weight

A select number of Fellows at Healthy Children, Healthy Weight were asked: "What obstacle do you face in your work which prevents you from moving forward?" We have published their answers below.

“The obstacle that is really the purpose of this whole meeting is how people think about children and families... they tend to think about them individually, and that individual families are responsible for their children, and it’s a real hindrance to us. We know we can have changes in the federal government and the state government that can help us make short-term movements toward better children health and wellbeing, but we’re bumping up against the edges of that. So, we’re really seeing that we need fundamental mindset shifts away from individualist perspective to a more collectivist perspective. So moving from ‘me’ to ‘we.’”

Claire Gibbons, USA

Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

“I think that what’s happened is donors, in particular, have so focused on this issue of evaluation, and it’s tipped too far. For the longest time, we were just going on goodwill and good wishes, and evidence played too little a role, so that was a whole other extreme. Now, it’s gone all the way to the other extreme that I think this issue of evaluation limits innovation… [and the other major challenge is] having greater participation from the communities and particularly the children… I think we all give a lot of lip service… true engagement with communities around their problems is so time-consuming. I don’t know of philanthropic money or government money which is willing to invest in that kind of time-consuming activity.”

Bernadette Moffat, South Africa

Executive Director of the ELMA Philanthropies Services

“I would say the most difficult obstacle for the work that I do is around people’s fear of being thought of as a racial monster, or the experience of racial stress keeps people from raising their voice, standing up for injustice or protecting children who are of color who need adults to speak up for them. So, the issue of racial stress [and] the issue of racial fear is probably the biggest obstacle that makes people weak and using their power to stand up - not only injustice around race but also for issues of poverty and
difference.”

Howard Stevenson, USA

Executive Director of the Racial Empowerment Collaborative; Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education; and Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania

“I think attention spans and [a] willingness to sit in the messiness for a while. We’d describe the need to address complexity in a new way as complex problems cannot be simplified by definition... there are ways of engaging with complex systems and complex issues, but we have to be willing to sit and be patient with that [and] be able to bring our expertize but bring it lightly... we are likely to need to learn new things and open our minds to new ways of seeing. One of the limitations is our ability to take on other worldviews, and try them on for size.”

Margaret Hannah, UK

IFF Kitbag Lead and Director of Health Programmes

“First of all, it’s always the budget - the funding. This is really an obstacle to go on with the work as I want, and the other obstacle is maybe my own thinking. If I’m thinking in the right way… if you do health… you have to remain open-minded, you have to think sometimes big, as people say. It’s always this kind of moral question as well - to balance that out - the moral question and to go on...”

Susan Ring-Dimitriou, Austria

Associate Professor at the Department of Sport Science and Kinesiology at the Paris Lodron University of Salzburg


The program Healthy Children, Healthy Weight is part of Salzburg Global's multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation. This year’s program is being held in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.