Stacey Abrams to Help Launch New Salzburg Global Initiative




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Jul 27, 2020
by Salzburg Global Seminar
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Stacey Abrams to Help Launch New Salzburg Global Initiative

US political leader, voting rights advocate and Salzburg Global Fellow to speak alongside journalist Will Dobson at webinar to kick-off the Designs on the Future initiative

American political leader, serial entrepreneur and nonprofit CEO Stacey Abrams will help launch the new Salzburg Global initiative, Designs on the Future this week when she speaks at the webinar Has Democracy Become a Spectator Sport?

Abrams will speak in candid conversation with Will Dobson, coeditor of the Journal on Democracy on Tuesday, July 28, addressing the complex and systemic risks currently facing democracy in their country and around the world and what is necessary for democracy to flourish.

The two best-selling authors are also both Salzburg Global Fellows – an experience Abrams credits in her book Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America with shifting her outlook from local to global:
“But what he [Will Dobson] challenged me with was, ‘Look, if you want to be a leader, you have to understand more than your space.’  And he said, ‘You do that in every other part of your academic life and your intellectual life; why are you closing yourself off on the foreign policy side?’”  Abrams goes on to say that “Through him, I learned about Salzburg Global Seminar…”

Abrams became a Salzburg Global Fellow in 2000 when she participated in a landmark program on Youth and Civic Participation: Models for Engagement. In the two decades since, Abrams has moved from local young leader to state legislator, gubernatorial candidate and now national advocate for voting rights and democratic reform. 

A three-time Salzburg Global Fellow and one-time intern, Dobson most recently served as a guest lecturer at the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change in 2013, helping mentor the next generation of journalists and media creators and sharing insights from his then-recently published book The Dictator's Learning Curve: Inside the Global Battle for Democracy.

Abrams and Dobson will be joined by three more Salzburg Global Fellows acting as “provocateurs” in a lively discussion to be moderated by Salzburg Global Vice President and Chief Program Officer Clare Shine, tackling global challenges to democracy from different geographies, generations, and sectors: Maria Farrell, a speaker and writer on technology, politics and the future, consultant on internet governance and infrastructure; Henry W. Leung, a poet and creative nonfiction writer from Hong Kong studying law at UC Berkeley, USA; and Chloe Hakim-Moore, founder and director of Next Memphis in Tennessee, USA. 

The webinar is the first in a series of unique “conversations with a twist” that will feature leaders and disrupters from within the Salzburg Global Fellowship. Designs on the Future is a new, open initiative inspired by Salzburg Global’s radical roots and the unrivalled diversity of our alumni. The initiative will focus on emergent challenges and breakthroughs to spark ideas, make sense of complexity, and inform our programs, networks and impact far into the future. 

Every new decade invites bold change for long-term benefit. Today’s converging crises provide a unique opportunity to reimagine systems, values and leadership. The Designs on the Future initiative will address the pressing question of how can we act smarter and faster for more creative, just and sustainable societies? In a world that lacks public trust and shared positive narratives, the stakes are rising along with inequity and planetary risks.

Democracy around the world – where it exists – is currently facing significant risks. Economic and racial divisions are driving political and cultural polarization. Gaps are widening between people and power, with authority in some countries now beyond traditional checks and balances. Globally there are more democracies than ever, yet trust is declining and the media is seen as increasingly partisan. Pessimism is highest among youth.

Yet history tells us that individuals and communities can drive radical change and pioneer new movements for participatory engagement from the street up. 

To join us for this timely debate at 11:00 EDT / 17:00 CEST on Tuesday, July 28, please visit