Social and Emotional Learning - A Global Synthesis

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Dec 02, 2018
by Anna Rawe
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Social and Emotional Learning - A Global Synthesis

Leaders in Social and Emotional Learning come to Salzburg to help put SEL on the global agenda 

In 1954, the German philosopher Hannah Arendt described education as “the point at which you decide if you love the world enough to assume responsibility for it.” Her words still resonate, even in a world that has changed almost beyond recognition. Yet the vast majority of education systems around the world are still organized around approaches and principles from the last century that are widely seen as outdated and failing to prepare young people for the modern world. 

As societal and technological change accelerates, Social and Emotional learning (SEL) is becoming more and more important as a reform topic in global education. It offers a vision and pathway for teaching all young people the skills to help them manage their emotions, develop their own sense of identity, work well with other people, and set goals they can achieve. 

Over the last three years, Salzburg Global Seminar has therefore developed and refined a supply and demand hypothesis around SEL, building an expanding coalition of partners and co-hosting regional workshops on comparative practice around the world. 
On the demand side, we see an exceptional window of opportunity to embed SEL in education systems around the world because of the range of different voices that consider SEL the best answer to the kind of changes they want to see in education. 

These stakeholders have different priorities: the skills and competencies required to equip the workforce of tomorrow; the innovation capacity that societies will need to meet the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals; urgent improvements in the health and well-being of young people; or new thinking about academic attainment, personal resilience, and dynamic communities. Their arguments are becoming more widely accepted by policy makers and people of influence around the world, in part because the demand side voices span the whole political spectrum. 

On the supply side, however, significant and widespread barriers have hindered the implementation of SEL reform. These fall into three broad categories: i) teacher preparation; ii) curriculum design and the recognition of extracurricular learning opportunities; iii) measurement and assessment. These are valid concerns but recent years have seen major research, policy and practice innovations around SEL which point to promising ways forward. 

Salzburg Global Seminar’s six-day program, Social and Emotional Learning: A Global Synthesis, held in Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, Austria will put the spotlight on what works and why in Social and Emotional Learning. It brings together education leaders, influencers, researchers and practitioners from 31 countries to share their insights and recommendations on how SEL could impact the entire education ecosystem and how this could have sustained long-term value for countries across the world.  

This program builds on Salzburg Global’s long track record on educational policy and innovation. It forms part of our multi-year series Education for Tomorrow’s World, which aims to address emerging challenges and opportunities for education, exploring new approaches to learning, skills and inclusion for radically different societies.

This year’s program is being held in partnership with ETS, Microsoft and Qatar Foundation International, who will also co-chair the program, together with additional partners, the British Council, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Inter-American Development Bank.