People and Power – 2005 onwards

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Jun 23, 2017
by Louise Hallman
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People and Power – 2005 onwards

In an increasingly interconnected and volatile world, citizens seek leaders with answers as well as opportunities to take greater control over their lives. The work of Salzburg Global Seminar and of our Fellows remains at the forefront of leading global solutions.

Today’s world faces a multitude of challenges that both reach globally and impact locally: from climate change and disruptive technological innovations, to democratic disengagement, rising political extremism and financial crises. To effect positive transformation, the world needs responsible, proactive and innovative global leaders, but also “thoughtful, committed citizens” at all levels of public life and private institutions.

To reflect its increasingly global role and the interconnectedness of the world’s challenges, the Salzburg Seminar changed its name in 2006 to Salzburg Global Seminar. Today, Salzburg Global bridges divides between countries as well as among generations, social backgrounds, and sectors. It encourages leaders to accept personal responsibility for finding solutions and opens doors to collaborative thinking and action.

When he was elected president in 2005, Stephen L. Salyer became the first Fellow to serve in the post, having attended The Social Impact of Mass Communications in 1974. The former head of Public Radio International in the US, Salyer stressed a problem-solving and social innovation direction for the organization. He received backing from the board of directors to not only change the organization’s name but also to introduce a greater outcome-oriented focus, overhaul the organization’s operating structure, and revamp its mission: “to challenge current and future leaders to solve issues of global concern.”

Salyer established initiatives to strengthen independent media and to optimize institutional philanthropy. As part of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation-funded Salzburg Media Initiative, a new summer academy was founded in 2007. A decade later, the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change brings students and faculty from university partners on five continents together with media innovators and journalists to harness media to global problem-solving. Recent topics for the three-week summer program have included Migration, Media & Global Uncertainty (2016) and Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism (2017).

In addition to the Media Academy, Salzburg Global designs other multi-year programs to foster young leaders. In 2012, the Cutler Fellows Program was established to honor Salzburg Global’s long-serving board chairman, Lloyd N. Cutler, and his legacy of convening leading judges and rising practitioners from across the world. The now annual program selects outstanding students from top US law schools to explore public and private international law and public service. Meanwhile, in the arts and culture sector, young innovators across the world are providing creative impulses for social improvement and sustainable development. The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI Forum) was launched in 2014 to engage creative change-makers in the arts and turbo-charge their vision, talent and energy at the community level. Beyond an annual session held at Schloss Leopoldskron, the YCI Fellows collaborate in their city “hubs,” of which there are now 19 on six continents. This community-based approach, wherein Fellows establish local networks and implement projects at city or regional level, is also embedded into another program currently in development and due to launch in 2018 addressing the need for innovation in the public sector.

Salzburg Global engages both present and rising leaders in tackling issues across diverse but often interrelated fields – including education and health care innovation, LGBT human rights, financial regulation, corporate governance, and environmental sustainability. In recent years, Salzburg Global’s work on these themes has been channeled into multi-year series designed to transform individual thinking as well as institutional strategy and performance. These series have the benefit of continuous engagement and support by leading partners, such as the Mayo Clinic (Health and Health Care Innovation), Educational Testing Service (Education for Tomorrow’s World), the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (Parks for the Planet Forum). Funding for corporate-focused series such as the Forum on Finance in the Changing World comes from sponsorship consortia that include leading financial services companies, law firms, regulators, consultancies and academic experts.

Philanthropic support from organizations and individuals for Salzburg Global’s sessions is today boosted by the highly successful Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron – home to Salzburg Global’s core programs and major convocations, but also a destination venue sought out by individual guests and external clients. In 2014, the Meierhof underwent major renovation and an overhaul of guest services. The result is an award-winning hotel, a unique venue for strategic convening and conscientious stewardship of an Austrian National Historic Monument. Hotel Schloss Leopoldskron is truly an inspirational place where free inquiry and expression abide.  

In today’s volatile, interconnected world, what Salzburg Global Seminar offers is more important than ever. Its relevance to global problem-solving and development of tomorrow’s leaders, and its growing base of individual and institutional supporters, ensures its prominence as a place where “thoughtful, committed citizens” can continue to shape a better world.