A Global Alliance for Social Emotional Learning

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Mar 26, 2019
by Lucy Browett
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A Global Alliance for Social Emotional Learning

Salzburg Global Seminar, Fellows and partners launch new global initiative from Salzburg Global SEL program The "Global Alliance" at Salzburg Global Seminar

Helen Keller once said: “Ideas without action are worthless.”

In December 2018, Salzburg Global Fellows from 31 countries convened at Schloss Leopoldskron for Social and Emotional Learning: A Global Synthesis.

The general goal of that program was to explore regional and national initiatives, bringing together practitioners, educators, researchers and policymakers from across the world to discuss concepts and practices in SEL.

However, participants including Louka Parry, director of academy for Education Changemakers in Australia, planted the seeds for a new global organization. This “global alliance” in SEL is yet to be named but was established by a working group at the December program.

Parry, as well as several other Fellows from that initial working group, returned to Salzburg in March 2019 for the program Social and Emotional Learning: Time for Action and to take this new initiative further.

Parry said, “Salzburg has, I think, the privilege of bringing together all these fantastic innovators, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners. So what could that look like specifically for SEL at scale?

“That really is, I think, the promise of a global alliance… [It is] an alliance of people that basically helps to curate a community that is working in this particular space.

“It helps to promote really flourishing thriving states of not just children and youth but also adult learners as well all over the world, ensuring that access is as equitable as possible between all the different nation states that are trying to do this work.”

Speaking during the March program, Parry said, “We’re here working on the same project. I began by briefing [the new Fellows] on all the work we’ve achieved to date and the progress we’ve made. The working group has stayed really active. We’ve had monthly video conferences, for example.”

The alliance has received funding from partner organizations. Funding from Qatar Foundation International meant that Parry, along with two other members of the original working group, were able to travel to Washington DC.

“We spent two days in the office literally building out a 37-page document; a preliminary position paper on what this global alliance could do and how it could contribute to the ecosystem,” said Parry, of this trip.

During the working group presentations at the end of Social and Emotional Learning: Time for Action, Parry had reconvened with Fellows to explore this alliance further, setting out a tangible action plan for funding, implementation of a digital platform and even hosting a global congress.

Parry said, “Our current thinking is on 1 January 2020, it transitions from interim arrangements with Salzburg as a secretariat, which is the current arrangement, to a standalone organization which is doing this work.”

The working group is due to reconvene at Schloss Leopoldskron on March 29 to 30. Parry said, “It’s just coming together to try to move forward even further.

“After that, it’s actually about going pretty hard after grants, pitching to funders, to philanthropists and foundations to see if we can find opportunities there.”

Ayla Bonfiglio, co-founder and deputy director at the Conflict and Education Learning Laboratory (CELL) Foundation, presented the alliance’s principle goals during the workshop presentation at the most recent program. These are:

“1. To promote understanding of SEL-LS [Social and Emotional Learning and Life Skills] and an awareness of its role in helping learners to thrive in school, work and life.
2. To connect and coordinate international, regional, national and local… SEL stakeholders, initiatives and resources.
3. To empower local and national decision-makers and practitioners with scalable frameworks for implementation and action.”

Salzburg Global Seminar looks forward to supporting the still-to-be-named alliance to grow in the months ahead.

Read more in Issue 3 of the program newsletter:

Download as PDF


The program Social and Emotional Learning: Time for Action is part of Salzburg Global’s long-running multi-year series Education for Tomorrow’s World. The program is held in partnership with ETS, Microsoft, Porticus, Qatar Foundation International and USAID’s Education in Crisis and Conflict Network.