Faces of Leadership

Young Cultural Innovators Join Forces in Magazine Global Fundraiser
This is a photo collage of Usanii Magazine. It shows the Issue One front cover and two magazine features. These are bright and colorful features. The top right image shows performer Nviiri wearing sunglasses on a blue background. The bottom right image shows an interview with Maria Goretti, yellow and black text on a green background. The left image shows the magazine's front cover, featuring a large profile photo of Chemutai Sage.Image: Usanii Magazine
Young Cultural Innovators Join Forces in Magazine Global Fundraiser
By: Josh Wilde 

Salzburg Global Seminar Fellows Lai, Xochitl Calix, and Moira Villiard come together to crowdfund emerging artists’ magazine

Launched in April 2020, Usanii, the Swahili word for artistry, is a free magazine that features developing musicians, photographers, poets and more to raise awareness of their work and enable collaboration with established artists.

The magazine founder, Lai from the Nairobi Hub, participated in October's Young Cultural Innovators Forum (YCI) and wasted no time in joining forces with fellow YCI members Xochitl Calix and Moira Villiard, from the Detroit and Upper Midwest USA Hubs respectively. Their initial crowdfunding target is $10,000 to support his publication that showcases emerging artists from underprivileged backgrounds.

Embodying Salzburg Global Seminar’s mission to bridge divides, expand collaboration, and transform systems, Lai is now calling on more YCI Fellows to join his campaign.

“The whole idea of fundraising was really pushed by two YCI members, Xochitl and Moira,” he says. “They have been very instrumental in helping initiate what to look at and how to package the magazine. I have been reaching out to different YCIs from Europe, Australia, the US, Asia, and telling them about the magazine.”

Lai’s own story is inspirational. Growing up in the Kawangware slums of Nairobi, Kenya, his idea for the magazine started two years ago with just a pen and paper.

Saving up money to cover the cost of accessing a computer at an internet café, Lai produces the Usanii magazine and accompanying Conversations YouTube series, from interviews and design to editing and running the social media accounts.

“I cannot overstate how crucial [the crowdfunding] would be,” he explains. “I work as a music teacher. I earn around $6 per lesson. Out of that $6, I’ll probably use $5 at the Internet café. 60%-70% of my monthly income goes to the magazine.

“The fundraiser would allow me to buy a laptop most importantly, and a printer so I’m able to print the magazine myself at a lower cost.”

Still operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lai does not charge for the magazine, hoping its free accessibility will help the artists’ stories reach more people. Lai’s vision is to support global artists’ voices and provide opportunity for anyone who needs it.

Money raised will be used to buy essential equipment, hire staff and grow the publication. A percentage of funds will be donated to selected organizations that promote this fundraiser.

Villiard is working with Ugandan artist Steve Boyyyi to create paintings of African life which will be sent to those who give $150 or more. Lai says these donations will be split between Usanii magazine and Boyyyi, whose foundation supports Ugandan street children.

A painting of three zebras, in front of green foliage and a blue sky background      A painting of a person in blue and white clothing, walking with a dog by their side. They are holding some wood in one hand and carrying bananas on their head. The background is yellow and orange      A painting of two giraffes and two elephants by some water. One of the giraffes is having a drink. They are in front of a yellow, orange and red background

Images: Paintings of African life / Usanii Magazine

Should the crowdfunder reach Lai's ultimate target of $25,000, he hopes to utilize connections made through the YCI Forum to start monthly training and seminars from February 2021, where artists in Kenya will get a chance to interact and learn from YCI Fellows.

“We already have Fellows who have expressed interest in offering training in different fields throughout 2021,” he beams.

You can find out more information and donate to Usanii magazine through their GoFundMe page: 

First Book from New Series Explores Social and Emotional Learning in the Mediterranean
A red apple is balanced on top of some school books. Next to it on the right are some coloring pencils and A B C building blocks.Image: Element5 Digital/Unsplash
First Book from New Series Explores Social and Emotional Learning in the Mediterranean
By: Josh Wilde 

Publication explores how countries in the Mediterranean basin are stimulating SEL and what can be learned

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is crucial in teaching skills such as self-awareness, problem-solving, and empathy, prerequisite traits for positive development in an era of substantial social, economic, and technological change.

SEL has become a valuable tool in tackling challenges faced by countries in the Mediterranean basin, including violence and forced displacement, which can hinder quality education delivery.

The first volume in the Brill | Sense series on Comparative Education in the Mediterranean, Social and Emotional Learning in the Mediterranean: Cross Cultural Perspectives and Approaches, is a pioneering publication that explores how this region is stimulating SEL, the barriers to its implementation, and what can be learned. It aims to raise awareness of effective practices and critically reflect on challenges with recommendations for policy-makers, intervention, and future research.

The book features a diverse range of contributors from both within the Mediterranean region and further afield. They include series editor Ronald Sultana and volume editors Carmel Cefai, Salzburg Global Seminar Program Director Dominic Regester, and Leyla Akoury Dirani. 

Salzburg Global is proud to have facilitated an SEL session with many authors that fostered this volume idea.

Speaking on Monday at the latest program, Social and Emotional Learning in the Mediterranean Region, part of Salzburg Global’s Education for Tomorrow’s World series, Cefai explained there is now a consensus on how SEL varies across different contexts.

“Research evidence shows high-quality programs which have been very effective in one context did not travel: when they were implemented in other contexts they were not effective at all,” Cefai said.

“Rather than trying to carve out a new niche for SEL in a curriculum which is already overloaded, it might be more feasible, practical, and culturally sensitive to make use of existing overlapping structures and try to introduce SEL on the back of that existing framework.

“One issue which I think SEL can be helpful with is to promote and advance children’s rights and children’s voice. Children themselves will have the opportunity through SEL to talk about what they would like to see in their education.”

This volume is dedicated to Samar El Ahmadieh from Lebanon, one of the authors who sadly passed away during the publication process.

Other contributors include: Claudine Aziz, Özden Bademci, Marc Brackett, Roxane Caires, Valeria Cavioni, Yvonne El Feghaly, Nahla Harb, Maria Kalli, Wael Kazan, Amina Kleit, Nagwa Megahed, Gihan Osman, Amor Ouelbani, Maria Poulou, Anwar Hussein-Abdel Razeq, Rémie Rhayem, Katia Terriot, Carly Tubbs Dolan, and Emmanuelle Vignoli.

The book is available to purchase here from the Brill Publishers website.

Young Cultural Innovators Win Major International Award
Robert Praxmarer and Thomas Layer-Wagner smiling in an action pose with some game controllers.Photo courtesy of Polycular.
Young Cultural Innovators Win Major International Award
By: Josh Wilde 

Salzburg Global Fellows Robert Praxmarer and Thomas Layer-Wagner recognized with inaugural Olympics of Innovation Challenge Award

Robert Praxmarer and Thomas Layer-Wagner met while working at university where they turned dream into reality, co-founding the interactive design and technology studio Polycular.

They are now in dreamland once again after their company won an international Olympics of Innovation Challenge Award for Artistic Vision at the inaugural World in 2050 Awards.

Described as “a forum for our future,” Diplomatic Courier’s World in 2050 think tank recognizes outstanding organizations tackling significant challenges across seven classifications: Society, Humanity, Energy, Health, Travel, Off-World, and Artistic Visions.

Solutions from each category will be championed at major global forums including the Innovation Olympics Festival, the United Nations General Assembly and the G20 Summit.

“I couldn’t actually believe it,” Praxmarer told Salzburg Global. “If you read through the other winners – SpaceX by Elon Musk, Johns Hopkins University, Bird – the names couldn’t be any bigger. They are the world leaders in their field. Then it says Polycular which really feels uncanny. A small Austrian company with 12 people being given this prestigious award. It’s more than a surprise.”

The judges praised Polycular’s variety and quality of work. From sustainable, environmentally-focused projects such as EgoGotchi where they reinvented the popular 1990s’ Tamagotchi toy craze to encourage greener lifestyle choices, to visionary ventures such as Morbus Genesis which uses computer algorithms to show everyday inanimate objects degrading, in turn encouraging audiences to rethink their own mortality, grief and loss.

“The great thing about working with digital technologies is that to some degree you have a lot of power in shaping virtual reality,” Praxmarer described. “That can be thought-provoking and offer new perspectives to an audience. If you can establish this magic moment, they are interested and you can get them talking.”

This accolade is just the latest for Polycular with other honors including the 2018 Umdasch Research Award for Learning and Education, the World Summit Award Austria for Education in 2019, and the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award.

“We made our mark in the local creativity and innovation scene,” Praxmarer added. “We haven’t won too many international awards so this is one that stands out and we are very proud.

“We were university professors in the field of game development, interactive art and augmented reality. We set out to start a company to use creative processes combined with art, technology and innovation to make interesting projects, ideally with an impact to society. They often revolve around sustainability and awareness building. We think education is foremost to train a younger generation with digital means and games to give them a new perspective on important topics.”

Both Praxmarer and Layer-Wagner are Salzburg Global Fellows after attending the annual programs of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum (YCI Forum) in 2014 and 2015 respectively. The YCI Forum is currently taking place virtually with this year’s program considering, A Global Platform for Creative, Just and Sustainable Futures.

“I had the chance to be part of it at the very beginning of our company,” Praxmarer explained. “It was one of the best mentoring programs I’ve ever attended. I’ve attended a lot of mentorship programs from accelerators all over the Silicon Valley and other places. Salzburg Global still stands out in terms of quality, mentors, location, the people and the caring. This special vibe you can’t really describe; you really have to be there.

“This network of young people aren’t just talking pipe dreams, they actually are smart and resilient enough to pull things off. You can learn so much in one week. It’s one of the greatest places and I told my co-founder [Layer-Wagner] he had to go there. It brings you forward in your own thinking. It’s well-spent time to step back and really reflect on topics of leadership, innovation and creativity.”

Salzburg Global is a partner of the World in 2050 Awards and Praxmarer thanked Faye Hobson, YCI Forum Lead and Salzburg Global Program Manager, who first nominated Polycular.

“Without her and Salzburg Global, we wouldn’t even have entered this kind of award,” Praxmarer acknowledged. “Coming from Hallein in Salzburg, this is something really special, which we had to work very hard for. Some organizations believed in us like Salzburg Global and we hope to pay back the people that helped us. We are super proud to put Austria, Salzburg Global and Polycular on the map.”

Hobson also wished to send her congratulations on behalf of Salzburg Global.

“The YCI Forum strives to empower the next generation of changemakers. Robert, Thomas and the whole Polycular team are great examples of what can be achieved when you work hard and dream big,” Hobson said.

“I was only too pleased to nominate them for this prestigious award and even more delighted to hear they had won. It is fantastic to see our Fellows named amongst the biggest and best in global innovation.”

Looking ahead, Praxmarer says Polycular’s future is bright as they strive to shape the future of learning.

“I hope we realize our dream to redefine education through digital means,” Praxmarer added. “Using playful discovery where it’s about challenging the learner. How kids learn when they explore a room or play hide and seek. We want to find new storytelling solutions for experiential and transformative learning.”

David Bray - What Are Five Concrete Steps Civil Societies Can Do Collectively To Govern Better Using Tech And Data?
David Bray at Salzburg Global SeminarDavid Bray at Salzburg Global Seminar
David Bray - What Are Five Concrete Steps Civil Societies Can Do Collectively To Govern Better Using Tech And Data?
By: David Bray 

In the latest installment of the Salzburg Questions for Law and Technology, director of the Atlantic Council GeoTech Center, David Bray, suggests five new pilot schemes to help move societies forward

This article is part of the series, the Salzburg Questions for Law and Technology by the Salzburg Global Law and Technology Forum

Artificial intelligence (AI), combined with the internet of everything and advances in the distribution of storage, processing, and services – including interoperability across software as a service and platforms as a service cloud solutions and improved peer-to-peer, distributed services – collectively hold the possibility of truly enabling societies to be more community-centered in how they operate. Yet for all these things to happen, societies first need to launch projects to demonstrate learning by incorporating advances in new technologies and data capabilities, so they do not become a surveillance state or encourage surveillance capitalism.

Societies must find new ways of involving the public in efforts that employ new technologies and data to do the business of governing, what previously was referred to as governments and may now no longer be done solely by a government – alongside private sector companies and non-profits. Such new efforts include involving new technologies and data capabilities to govern in a distributed and shared way that is open, visible, and participatory for all who want to be involved. Such new efforts would also demonstrate approaches to ensure individuals have choices, human dignity, and that any data is used for civic activities only with their explicit permission.

As we look ahead to 2021, I would like to suggest five concrete pilots we can do to help move the societies forward by piloting new, participatory approaches to data and AI:

  1. Pilot participatory data trusts with the public, to include transparent activities that help make the needed data available for recovery initiatives to assist with the public health, community, and economic efforts associated with COVID-19 recovery. The frameworks—data trusts and contracts—will also specify standards for the ethical use of the data and how to formulate data governance. The operationalization of the data access will have a normal mode during which COVID-19 recovery improves and a mode when exigent circumstances require special cooperation and data access among public and private institutions in the region.
  2. Provide everyone their own personal, open-source AI application that could answer most of their questions about public services and government functions.This application could include educational resources for people to train for new jobs. Such an application would expressly not compete with the private sector. By being open-source, it would also have an open application programming interface (API) that hooks to other commercial applications that act as an interface to the queries. The public could use the AI directly or access it via their favorite commercial AI app. In either case, by making the application open, folks could ensure the app was asking questions and not reporting any data back to the government other than questions with unsatisfactory answers for additional data or refinement.
  3. Prototype a combination of participatory data trusts with the public and collaborative AI efforts to develop community, national, and global scale solutions to address local food shortages and work towards a world in which everyone has food available and not go hungry. The global food system has demonstrated its fragility with the pandemic, and we must work to make it more shock resistant. This includes developing solutions that combine participatory data approaches with the public and transparent AI efforts to develop indicators, warnings, and plans that spot global food system vulnerabilities and work to provide recommendations to make the system more resilient and sustainable. These indicators, warnings, and plans should include food for humans, food for animals, and nutrients and other products associated with agricultural production globally. National governments (defense, economic, commerce, agricultural, and diplomatic departments), agricultural industries, and humanitarian organizations all have primary roles in ensuring that global food system vulnerabilities do not weaken societal welfare, prosperity, and peace worldwide.
  4. Encourage national or international challenges to explore how AI can help reduce health care costs. This could include apps that allow you to take a photo of a rash and indicate whether it was serious or not, photos of your eye to monitor blood sugar levels, and potential alerts regarding high blood pressure. These would be apps for the individual that would either help them save time or the cost of a doctor’s visit. Of course, the challenges would be ascertaining the medicine validity of such apps, and thus we would need a rigorous review process.
  5. Enable the public to elect an AI to a government function at a local or state-level, say trash collection or public works. For several years, I have wondered when we might be able to elect an AI, and it still may be in the distant future. However, even striving to achieve this will have beneficial results. We need better ways of expressing the preferences and biases of an AI. We also need better ways of sharing why it reached certain decisions and expressing how this sense-making was done in a form that the public can appreciate. In attempting to elect different AIs to do trash collection or public works, we humans will benefit by better understanding what the machines (and data informing it) are either doing or proposing.

Looking toward the future, the only way for societies to navigate through the turbulence of 2020 and beyond is by mobilizing both private sector and public sector leaders to pilot and prototype more participatory approaches to data and AI.

We must create opportunities for all parts of societies – including the public, government, and private sector. To work together consists of a willingness to learn by doing, adapting, and leading, which is essential to working towards greater public participation in data and AI efforts for the future. We need to encourage leaders from all sectors and all nations to advance such efforts to benefit people, prosperity, and peace.

Have an opinion? 

We encourage readers to share your comments by joining in the discussion on LinkedIn

David Bray is the director of the Atlantic Council GeoTech Center. He previously served as executive director for the People-Centered Internet co-founded by Vint Cerf, focused on providing support and expertise for community-focused projects that measurably improve people's lives using the internet. He also served as IT chief for the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading the program's technology response to during 9/11, anthrax in 2001, Severe Acute Respiratory System in 2003, and other international public health emergencies. He also provides strategy to both boards and start-ups espousing human-centric principles to technology-enabled decision making in complex environments. Business Insider named him one of the top "24 Americans Who Are Changing the World" under 40 and he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum for 2016-2021. He was also named a Senior Fellow with the Institute for Human-Machine Cognition in 2018. He holds a bachelor's degree in computer science and biology and a master's degree in health informatics from Emory University, a Ph.D. from Emory University's Goizueta Business School, and two post-doctoral associateships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. He is a Salzburg Global Fellow.

The Salzburg Questions for Law and Technology is an online discussion series introduced and led by Fellows of the Salzburg Global Law and Technology Forum. The articles and comments represent opinions of the authors and commenters and do not necessarily represent the views of their corporations or institutions, nor of Salzburg Global Seminar. Readers are welcome to address any questions about this series to Forum Director, Charles E. Ehrlich:

Tashi Choedup: “My Faith Has Helped Me With My Queerness and My Queerness Helps Me in Making My Faith Inclusive”
Tashi Choedup: “My Faith Has Helped Me With My Queerness and My Queerness Helps Me in Making My Faith Inclusive”
By: Tashi Choedup 

Buddhist monastic shares their journey of forging a healthy relationship between their queerness and their faith

Catherine Brenner - How Do Non-Executive Directors Look to the Future Whilst Navigating Extreme Unpredictability?
Catherine Brenner at Salzburg Global SeminarCatherine Brenner at Salzburg Global Seminar
Catherine Brenner - How Do Non-Executive Directors Look to the Future Whilst Navigating Extreme Unpredictability?
By: Catherine Brenner 

In the latest installment of the Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance series, company director Catherine Brenner explains why COVID-19 can't be an excuse to abandon traditional strategic planning processes

This article is part of the series, the Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance by the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum

In less than 12 months, so much of what we took as certain, stable, and predictable has changed. From the global pandemic to unprecedented bushfires, extreme climate events to changing geopolitical issues and alliances, and significant economic challenges, it is difficult to predict and forecast what the future holds and for organizations to make plans.

Whilst there is much to be learned from the past and immediate individual and organizational responses to crises have often surprised on the upside, we cannot put off decisions for the medium and long-term indefinitely.

The extreme unpredictability of 2020 is not a reason to abandon the rigor of the traditional strategic planning processes. Instead, boards and leadership teams can be emboldened to envisage a range of futures and test a series of scenarios.

Boards must provide their management teams with the confidence and courage to do this broader thinking, not retreat into risk-averse planning, but yet to be inquisitive and creative and think about the "what ifs." Directors who constructively challenge management and themselves to have clear-eyed but ambitious discussions about their organization and think about how they can shape the future are needed more than ever.

This change requires boards with a growth mindset. This movement can be aided by a reasonable proportion of non-executive directors from outside the industry and bringing external views and perspectives. Boards benefit from thoughtful directors who invest the time to help them:

  • Be curious about emerging technologies and other forces and trends; what organizations around the globe are doing; how humans are adapting and behaving differently or perhaps behaving more predictably than ever.
  • Ask thoughtful "what if" questions to help lift management's eyes above the horizon and ask constructive probing open questions.

It is helpful if directors are aware of two key behavioral biases: loss aversion and narrow framing. People fear losses more than they value equivalent gains, and people weigh potential risks as if there were only one potential outcome instead of viewing them as part of a larger portfolio of outcomes. This is where board-level thoughtful organization-wide discussions and assessments can be an enabler of effective, well thought through risk-taking where trade-offs are made, and a broader organization-wide perspective is taken. As non-executive directors, we should regularly ask ourselves:

  • Am I clear on the organization's mission and value drivers? Do I have them front and center to frame my thinking and questions?
  • How much am I reading or listening to things that are talking about trends and external forces more broadly and bringing an external perspective to the discussion?
  • Am I alive to the behavioral biases which may creep into thinking, particularly given the trauma of 2020?
  • Am I asking questions in a way that opens up discussion and makes it permissible to have the "what if" conversations?

Truly value-adding strategic conversations require directors to think hard about these issues, and there is no time more pressing for this than now.

Have an opinion? 

We encourage readers to share your comments by joining in the discussion on LinkedIn

Catherine Brenner is a company director, having served in the past 17 years on the boards of various public and private companies, not-for-profit and government organizations. This list includes AMP, Coca Cola Amatil, Boral, the Sydney Opera House and the Art Gallery of NSW. She has chaired boards, risk, sustainability, remuneration and special-purpose board committees. Catherine previously served as a member of the Takeovers Panel and was a senior investment banker. She is a Salzburg Global Fellow.

The Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance is an online discussion series introduced and led by Fellows of the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum. The articles and comments represent opinions of the authors and commenters, and do not necessarily represent the views of their corporations or institutions, nor of Salzburg Global Seminar. Readers are welcome to address any questions about this series to Forum Director, Charles E. Ehrlich: To receive a notification of when the next article is published, follow Salzburg Global Seminar on LinkedIn or sign up for email notifications here:

Brenda Rodriguez Alegre: As a Child I Would Pray to God “to Make Me a Woman One Day”
Brenda Rodriguez Alegre: As a Child I Would Pray to God “to Make Me a Woman One Day”
By: Brenda Rodriguez Alegre 

Academic, activist, choir soprano and expert on Filipino transgender history makes a passionate plea for Filipino queers to reemerge and be more visible and accepted in a religious society

Saskia Wieringa: “All Religions Have Their Progressive, Human Rights-Oriented Sides”
Saskia Wieringa: “All Religions Have Their Progressive, Human Rights-Oriented Sides”
By: Saskia Wieringa 

Renowned anthropologist on cross-cultural gender and women’s same-sex relations looks back at her personal faith journey through three religions

Rev. Ecclesia de Lange: “I Lived in Denial of Who I Am and I Settled for a Life of Celibacy and Secrecy”
Rev. Ecclesia de Lange: “I Lived in Denial of Who I Am and I Settled for a Life of Celibacy and Secrecy”
By: Ecclesia de Lange 

Suspended Methodist minister and current director of Inclusive and Affirming Ministries reflects on a journey of becoming vulnerable and courageous

Ahmed El Hady: “I Would Love To See Many Members of the LGBT Community Revolting Against the Predominant Religious Discourse but Who Will Defend Them?”
Ahmed El Hady: “I Would Love To See Many Members of the LGBT Community Revolting Against the Predominant Religious Discourse but Who Will Defend Them?”
By: Ahmed El Hady 

Egyptian neuroscientist and political activist makes a case for the secularization of politics and society as the only way of LGBT inclusion 

Pakistan’s Best Kept Secret: Lahore Museum 
Pakistan’s Best Kept Secret: Lahore Museum 
By: Anwar Akhtar – Samosa Media Director 

Multi-time Salzburg Global Fellow, Anwar Akhtar on why his film – made with Ajoka Theatre – “Pakistan’s Best Kept Secret: Lahore Museum”, has much to say about peace, for both South Asia and the UK

You can watch the film “Pakistan’s Best Kept Secret: Lahore Museum” on YouTube

The first half of 2020 has been lively, turbulent and difficult. The Coronavirus has changed our world, no matter whether you’re in India, Pakistan or the UK.

In the UK, the virus has disproportionally affected those from South Asian and Afro-Caribbean backgrounds, with arguments and theories flying in all directions about what social, economic and biological factors are in play. It will take some time to determine fully, but initial analysis points more to nurture, though nature is there as well.

On May 25, we witnessed the horror of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, being killed by police in Minnesota, USA, suffocated with a policeman’s knee on his throat. That one brutal act has led to global support for the Black Lives Matter movement. 

This in turn has led to debates and protests around many deep seated issues that have risen to the surface – or in the case of Bristol slave trader Edward Colston’s statue, sunk to the bottom of the harbor. The UK must fully address – in our schools, colleges, universities, galleries and museums – what the British Empire was and why so much of that story has been airbrushed out of British history, from the scale of slavery to the savagery and theft of the East India Company that laid the foundations for so much of Britain’s wealth and power today. 

Like all countries, the UK was built by heroes and villains. For every Emmeline Pankhurst, Michael Faraday and Alan Turing, we also have our Robert Clives and Edward Colstons.

Debates about racism, class, religion and empire are not going away any time soon. What is in our museums matters. What is and is not taught in our schools and universities matters. These issues have attained a new prominence in 2020. 

Salzburg Global Seminar has always made the case for how arts can act as a social transformer and bring communities together. 

I have gained hugely from my time at Salzburg Global programs. At 2014’s Conflict Transformation through Culture: Peace-Building and the Arts, writers, journalists, academics, film and theatre directors, came together, to share stories, culture and heritage from the Balkans, Turkey, South Africa, Uganda, Cambodia, Korea and Ireland. This program helped me develop my thinking, the themes we explore in the Lahore Museum film. Looking at the colleagues present then, brought to life for me, Margaret Mead’s famous words that are part of Salzburg Global Seminar’s story: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

For someone involved in British arts production work and anti-racist activism for 25 years, the scale of change in the last few weeks has at times been breathtaking: statues falling, universities and business schools changing their names. Lloyd’s of London, like many institutions, at the heart of British power today, issuing apologies for their involvement in slavery and pledging to invest in social justice and equality schemes for Black British people. We’ll see if their actions live up to their words. 

But change has arrived and it is happening. Lenin’s famous words about revolutions not working to fixed timetables, describe events today: “There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.”

Many young British people of all backgrounds are questioning the nature of the British Empire and notions of “belonging” in a society where issues of race, culture, language and heritage all dominate.

Surely that is to be welcomed. Great Britain is an island with a global story, a global past, a global heritage, and a former global empire. We should, if I may adapt slightly Oliver Cromwell’s words, view it warts and all.

For many young people – and not just those with South Asian or Afro-Caribbean heritage – part of understanding who they are is to uncover their own history as offspring and descendents of Empire.

But other challenges arise. Competing narratives shroud our views. There is an antagonistic, confrontational nature to some contemporary nations trying to have only one story, one culture, one history, when in reality it is always plural. I think this is especially so, in South Asia today.

The internal turmoil within states, coupled with economic, ethnic and religious tensions, add layers of complexity. Many people are often simply bewildered or angered by or choose to ignore the past. They see it as a different country.

We can learn from history and avoid the mistakes of history by studying our histories. So we need books, films and documentaries to keep informing us. We need to study the archives, the literature, the paintings – and yes, to look at the statues. 

This is why the documentary I made with playwright Shahid Nadeem from Ajoka Theatre, “Pakistan’s Best Kept Secret: Lahore Museum”, is so important. It starts us on this journey, informing us that everyone in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and the UK has a shared history, a shared story.

Lahore Museum has a rich, ancient and varied collection, which demonstrates the historical wealth and religious and cultural plurality of Pakistan – one of the largest Muslim-majority countries in the world, but also of course with large indigenous, mistreated and marginalised Hindu, Sikh and Christian communities. 

Our film explores the significance of the Lahore Museum – not just in Asia, but also in the UK. Through its magnificent collection we explore stories of ancient cultures: Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim, and those of empire, trade, the East India Company, the contribution of British Indian soldiers in two World Wars, Partition and the creation of Pakistan. 

What Sumaria Samad, who was Director of Lahore Museum, and Nadeem have to say about the museum’s extraordinary collection and the history of the region is both compulsive viewing and highly informative. They also give some insight into life in Pakistan today and the future role of the museum within Pakistan’s wider social, political, religious and cultural context, as well as Pakistan’s relationship with the UK.

So much can be gained by this approach of looking at our shared religious and cultural traditions, as well as historic tensions through the ages. Lahore Museum has many stories to tell and our film, can help educate a lot of people online, especially now that colleges and universities have been closed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Most important of all – and the sincere wish of all those involved in making this film – is that perhaps it can help bridge the gaps and divides, and heal some of the hurt, the animosity and the trust deficits that exist between India and Pakistan, so we do not curse another generation in both countries and in their huge diasporas to grow up with sectarian tensions, wondering when, if ever, there can be good relations and peace between us.

Pakistan’s Best Kept Secret: Lahore Museum

Reviews of Pakistan’s Best Kept Secret, Lahore Museum    

“It struck me, watching this revealing film, that this Museum throws light not only onto thousands of beautiful and fascinating works of art, but also onto a body of thought, a concept of society, an ecumenical vision and a long view that risks being erased by many forces in the contemporary world.”  – Dame Marina Warner, DBE, CBE, Professor of English and Creative Writing, Birkbeck

“The real star of the film is the museum itself, founded at the height of the British Raj, with John Lockwood Kipling (father of Rudyard) as its first curator. As the film’s title implies, it’s a museum which, if it were in almost any other country, would enjoy worldwide fame.”  – Edward Mortimer, author of Faith & Power: The Politics of Islam, former adviser to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and long-serving program advisor to Salzburg Global Seminar

“The, first and foremost, a pleasure to eavesdrop on.  All three protagonists seem to be having fun, to be enjoying the pursuit of serious questions in an extraordinary context. At the Lahore Museum, showing a collection that reflects the serial transformations of this complex country poses thorny problems of identity and ownership.  Pakistan’s relatively recent acquisition, in contrast to its long and fluid history, of an apparently monolithic religious identity, makes the museum’s address to a richly diverse past more difficult and more essential.”– Dr Jim Harris, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Teaching Curator, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Anwar Akhtarwas born and grew up in Manchester, UK. He is Founder and Director of The Samosa, a UK arts and journalism charity that works to embed diversity in the arts and humanities curriculum in schools, colleges and universities, and produces media that explores cultural and social issues. His latest film is “Pakistan’s Best Kept Secret – Lahore Museum” and his Manchester 4/4 talk, “Cities, Tolerance, Multi Culturalism” is available online. Anwar was the production consultant on the play “Dara,” working with Ajoka Theatre Pakistan and National Theatre UK.  The first South Asian history play at the UK’s National Theatre, “Dara” was seen by more than 30,000 people in 2015. “Dara” tells the story of Mughal India, raising questions about religious freedom, tolerance and clerical power that still resonate today. Anwar also led the Royal Society of Arts’ Pakistan Calling project, which produced more than 60 films looking at identity, education, equality, culture, religion, women’s and minority rights in Britain and Pakistan. Anwar was previously project director of the Rich Mix Cultural Foundation, where he led the capital and business development of a new £26 million arts centre in East London. He is a mult-time Fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar, having attended programs in the series Culture, the Arts and Society, Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention, and the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change.

Black Lives Matter: Toppling Colston - Vandalism or Vindication?
Statue of Edward Colston is thrown into Bristol harbor by Black Lives Matter protesters. Photo credit: Keir Gravil/Flickr of Edward Colston is thrown into Bristol harbor by Black Lives Matter protesters. Photo credit: Keir Gravil/Flickr
Black Lives Matter: Toppling Colston - Vandalism or Vindication?
By: Timothy Ryback 

Historian and former Salzburg Global Vice President, Timothy Ryback launches new blog series on Contested Histories

This article is authored by Timothy Ryback on behalf of the group of experts – convened by the IBA, Salzburg Global Seminar, and IHJR – which is preparing a volume of eight case studies addressing the social, political and legal dynamics in facilitating or complicating the resolution of public disputes over contested historical legacies in public spaces. The project will be the product of three years of in-depth research. Find out more here. This article is the first in a series and was first published on the IBA website.

During the Black Lives Matter protests in the first week of June, a bronze statue of slave trader Edward Colston was toppled from a pedestal in Bristol, United Kingdom, dragged through the streets, and dumped in the harbor. A crowd applauded and cheered. "It could only have happened that way," said Bristol poet laureate Miles Chambers. "It could only have been ripped down." The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson saw things differently. "I will not support or indulge those who break the law," Johnson said after the attack on the Colston statue. "If you want to change the urban landscape, you can stand for election or vote for someone who will."

Since the killing of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer at the end of May, protesters have attacked statues and monuments in cities across Europe and the United States, highlighting the importance of historical legacies in public spaces, but also raising fundamental questions about the role of statues, monuments and street names in public life, as well as the need for established principles and processes for aligning a country’s narrative landscape with its evolving social or political circumstances, in particular, in a world of increasingly diverse and multi-ethnic societies. In brief, how does a democratic society deal, as Johnson suggests, with complex historical legacies within the parameters while respecting the rule of law?

It’s not the first time we’ve seen massed protesters tearing down historical symbols in public spaces. Following the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1989, statues of Marx and Lenin were toppled across the former Soviet bloc. In Ukraine, where thousands of Lenin statues fell, people coined the term, Leninopad, or "Lenin fall." In Poland, a "memory law" required municipalities to rename streets and public spaces honouring Marx, Lenin, and more than a hundred other names associated with "communist, totalitarian or authoritarian rule." The Estonian-based historian Siobhan Kattago writes of the "living topography of a nation," that evolves with a nation’s evolving sense of self. Some things are "fiercely remembered," Kattago writes. Others are "forgotten and overgrown."

Edward Colston is deeply imbedded in Bristol’s memory landscape, its municipal consciousness. There’s a Colston Avenue and Colston Towers. Bristol bakeries produce "Colston buns," schoolchildren wear a "Colston flower" on his birthday. Colston Hall, a leading music venue, has hosted the Beatles, David Bowie and Elton John. And there’s the Colston statue.

The ten-foot bronze was erected in 1895 to honour a wealthy businessman who earned much of his fortune in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, through the slave trade of the Royal African Company. Bequeathing his fortune to the port city of Bristol, Colston’s legacy was managed in good part by Bristol’s Society of Merchant Venturers, an ancient and venerable organisation dating back to the 13th century. It supports the Colston Girls’ School, along with other philanthropic work. They also commissioned the Colston statue.

In 1920, a local clergyman criticised Bristol’s "cult of Colston," detailing Colston’s links with the slave trade, but it took over 70 years for controversy to stir. In 1998 an activist scrawled the words "Slave Trader" on the statue's base. In 2007, when Nelson Mandela was invited to Bristol to commemorate the bicentennial of the abolition of slavery, local activists wrote to warn him that his "presence would be seen as condoning an overwhelmingly white city council which is accused of riding roughshod over the wishes of the city’s black population." Mandela declined the invitation.

In 2014, a retired journalist, Mike Gardner, described Colston as "one of the most evil men in British history." "It’s time to stop little girls wearing flowers to celebrate his birthday," Gardner wrote in an article addressed to the city’s political leaders. "And it’s time to pull down that statue." An opinion poll, conducted by the Bristol Post, found a 56% majority in favor of retaining the Colston statue. However, it was decided that a bronze plaque explaining Colston’s problematic legacy should be added.

The draft text read: "As a high official of the Royal African Company from 1680 to 1692 Edward Colston played an active role in the enslavement of over 84,000 Africans (including 12,000 children) of whom over 19,000 died en route to the Caribbean and America." Colston also "invested in the Spanish slave trade and in slave-produced sugar." The plaque stalled amid wrangling over wording.

Meanwhile, local activists coalesced into the Countering Colston campaign, which fuelled public debate by calling for the renaming of Colston Hall. A petition for the name change gathered over 2,000 signatures. Two counterpetitions were launched, gaining over 5,000 and 7,000 names respectively. The Bristol Post was deluged with letters. "Anybody who thinks that Bristol is such a terrible place," one person wrote, "is welcome to go and live somewhere else."

Joanna Burch-Brown, a senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Bristol and a member of Countering Colston, analyzed 50 of the letters sent to the Bristol Post. She found that only 16 advocated change. Objections ranged from "political correctness gone mad" to "white washing history" to "Colston was a man of his time." One letter noted that the pyramid had been built by slaves; another that the Africans had sold "their fellow countrymen" to the European slave traders "for a few goodies." "Bristol has a population of about 449,300 people," one person wrote. "I hardly think 2,400 signatures is a mandate to change the name." The letter writer asked: "Would we change the name of England because 0.53% of the country voted for it?"

In October 2017, Burch-Brown presented initial findings of her study in Bristol Live. She noted there was a perception that the Countering Colston campaign was "being driven by a tiny minority obsessed with political correctness, and does not reflect the values of the rest of the city." Burch-Brown did not deny the democratic deficit. "We see this campaign as an expression of respect for universal equality, and the fundamental dignity of all human beings," she wrote. "These values are non-partisan, and are ones that all Bristolians can share." By spring 2017, the decision had been taken that Colston Hall would be re-named on re-opening, following refurbishment, at some point in 2020. A satisfactory text for the Colston statue plaque had been finalised and cast in bronze. Then George Floyd was killed.

Since Floyd’s death, on Monday, May 55, protesters around the world have attacked, toppled, torched, and crushed hundreds of statues, some "fiercely remembered," others "forgotten" or "overgrown." The living topographies of nations were shaken. On Sunday, June 7, amid rising protests, the Colston statue was smeared with graffiti, toppled and thrown in the harbor where slave trade ships once anchored. The next day, the British Home Secretary announced in the House of Commons that the Bristol protesters would be prosecuted for the vandalism. The Criminal Damage Act 1971 provides for prosecution of a "person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another," or attempts to destroy or damage. A person guilty of any other offence under the Act could face up to ten years in prison. More serious infractions can result in "lifetime imprisonment."

"I hope that the Council will not press charges," Burch-Brown said at the time. "But if prosecutions do go ahead, then we must see this as an opportunity." Burch-Brown noted that courts have long provided "an important platform" for effecting social change. She said, "Landmark speeches have been made, and societies changed forever." To date, no charges have been filed.

The Colston statue has since been recovered from Bristol harbour. It will be displayed in the city museum after restoration. Fran Coles, Conservation and Documentation Manager for Bristol Museums, told The New York Times that the graffiti will be preserved. ‘It has become part of the story of the object, of the statue,’ she said.

As with the erasure of Soviet legacies three decades ago, the assault on the topographies of former slave-trading nations suggests a seismic shift in society. It also raises fundamental questions about appropriate means for re-scripting urban landscapes, but also, as Burch-Brown suggested, our understanding of representation in a representative democracy.

Timothy W. Ryback is the executive director of the Institute for Historical Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands, and former deputy secretary general at the Académie Diplomatique Internationale in Paris, France. He previously served as the resident director and vice president of Salzburg Global Seminar. Dr. Ryback has written extensively on complex historic legacies, in particular, those related to national socialism. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The New York Times, among others. His book, Hitler's Private Library, has appeared in more than two dozen languages and is currently being adapted for the stage in London. He has a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Is Philanthropy Using Inequitable Practices to Achieve Equity?
Is Philanthropy Using Inequitable Practices to Achieve Equity?
By: Lindsay Hill & Dwayne Proctor 

Lindsay Hill, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Raikes Foundation and Dwayne Proctor, Senior Adviser to the President, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation open the new series of Salzburg Questions

This blog is the first in a new ad hoc series, the Salzburg Questions for Philanthropy

Before the coronavirus became a global pandemic and illuminated the life and death consequences of racism, poverty, segregation, and persistent underinvestment in low-income communities, philanthropy had been undergoing an important transition, focusing more intently on how its white dominance was affecting its ability to advance sustainable improvements in the lives of those who have been historically marginalized. That transition was just getting underway for many organizations when COVID-19 hit. Now is not the time for foundations to back away from their commitment to equity in the spirit of responding to this crisis. The health and economic impacts of this pandemic are real and responding in a moment of crisis is essential. That is exactly why foundations need to double down on our commitment to equity and work together to mitigate the effects of this crisis.

Here are five things we’re thinking about:

How do grant processes perpetuate inequities?

Unless we enlist people or organizations we know directly, most foundations approach grant funding through invitation-only processes. The result is that those who are first in line are usually in positions of power or privilege who already are in our networks. That process too often excludes those from communities most impacted whose efforts need support to make a bigger difference. The invitation-only approach is fairly embedded within most foundations so how can we be more inclusive? Are we using this moment to build new relationships with leaders and organizations whose leadership must be elevated during this time? Are we partnering with those who are acutely aware of the ways in which COVID-19 is exacerbating long-standing inequities? Are we being pushed to reexamine our own biases and limitations to better respond to our communities in this moment?

Are we intentionally recruiting and hiring a diverse staff?

Are we doing enough to enlist a diversity of people who have lived experiences tied to discrimination, racism, sexism, classism, ableism, in sectors like education, health, housing, or criminal justice so they can influence how we fund the work? When the Raikes Foundation, for example, shifted its recruiting and hiring practices to focus on equity and inclusion it produced tangible results, including increasing the percentage of our grantee partners led by people of color. The foundation is now a majority-people of color organization. 

Are we transparent enough?

Foundations need to be more transparent about how board members are selected, a process that has historically been very opaque. And, we need to reckon with who we are funding. There is tension in the field of philanthropy right now around a basic question: if you’re going to advance equity, do you continue to fund the same grantees who are not explicitly equity focused and help them along or do you seek out less traditional partners that are steeped in equity and have more credibility with the groups of people we want to benefit from our grant support? We believe it is more important than ever to seek out and support organizations most deeply embedded in our communities. 

What role does leadership play?

When it comes to equity, leadership can be more important than dollars. Foundation leaders that are all in with equity see it as their responsibility to use their power and privilege to shift mindsets and the behaviors of peers. Leaders have been most successful when they take time to educate their boards and founders, bringing them along to better understand how their foundations could have greater impact in the sectors we care about by centering equity in our strategy development and grant processes. 

Do we pay enough attention to where endowments are invested?

There are a lot of contradictions between where foundations invest their dollars and the issues they support. For example, there are foundations across the country working to improve the lives of boys and men of color. Incarceration is one of those threats to improved lives, however, those same foundations may be investing in companies that profit off mass incarceration like telecommunications, transportation or food vending. How are we reconciling this? 

It is easy to say that this work should be put off while we manage through this crisis. But if philanthropy is committed to advancing equity it must continue the work to reckon with the ways in which it has contributed to perpetuating inequities. “We’ll do this later” no longer works when we are staring these inequities in the face like never before. And if we aren’t willing to center equity during this critical time, what is the risk that we will contribute to growing inequities coming out of this moment? When might it be time for us to get out of the way for those who are willing to bravely walk in the direction of equity and justice?

Lindsay Hill and Dwayne Proctor are Fellows of the program Toward a More Inclusive and Diverse Global Philanthropy: Strategies to Address Social, Economic and Historic Inequality

Feeling at Home
Mira Luce Hamdan (left) at Salzburg Global SeminarMira Luce Hamdan (left) at Salzburg Global Seminar
Feeling at Home
By: Mira Luce Hamdan 

In July 2019, Mira Luce Hamdan traveled from Lebanon to Austria to attend the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. When they arrived, they rediscovered their passion for media – and set out on a new life path

I don’t know how to explain in a few short sentences what the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change means to me. It sounds silly, but the Academy is more a feeling than a place: it is friendship, love, acceptance, validation, passion, enlightenment, home.

I felt truly at home for the first time ever when I was at Schloss Leopoldskron. I met the most interesting people, made friendships and connections, and I found something that I thought I had lost: I found my passion.

I struggled a lot when getting my bachelor’s degree. Somewhere along the way, I forgot why I liked media and media studies. However, the three weeks I spent in Parker Hall with the amazing instructors and my brilliant colleagues, the conversations we had with each other and with guest speakers, and the field trips around Austria reminded me of my love for media. One of the most amazing things is that everybody made sure to let me know and to remind me naturally and genuinely, that I’m actually good at what I’m doing.

The amount of validation, love, and acceptance that I felt in the Schloss and in those halls will forever fill my heart and push me further. I will always remember every kind thing and every encouraging word I heard from every person in that place because it all pushed me towards a better future. Before attending the Salzburg Academy, I had planned to get a Ph.D. in social work (and I’m sure I would have been great at it). But the Academy and the people there reminded me that my love and my future is media.

The part that still amazes me is that I almost didn’t attend the program. Initially, I wasn’t going to apply for the Salzburg Academy. Financially I was just not going to make it. Then, my professor told me that I could apply for a scholarship. I could barely believe it when I got the email telling me I was accepted into the program with a 50% scholarship. It was Christmas and my birthday all at once.

There is a Welsh word that loosely translates to yearning for home: “hiraeth.” I guess if I had to put it in one word, “hiraeth” is what the Salzburg Academy will always be to me.

Building Healthy Communities: What Is Yours To Do? 
Teddy bear in the window of a neighborhood in COVID-19 lockdown. Photo: Nicolas Gonzalez/UnsplashPhoto: Nicolas Gonzalez/Unsplash
Building Healthy Communities: What Is Yours To Do? 
By: Nupur Chaudhury 

Public health urbanist Nupur Chaudhury says that the time for building healthier communities is not after the pandemic but now

As a public health urbanist, I look at connections, cities and communities through a grassroots lens. I sit a mile away from the epicenter of the Coronavirus pandemic here in the United States and I’ve been examining the fracture of life that’s currently unfolding. I have been a part of numerous conversations focused on the fact that life will never be the same when we emerge from this pandemic. Although many conversations focus on the “after” on the “when all of this is done,” I would urge us to think about building healthy communities now. 

My colleague Lourdes Rodriguez, at the Cities Research Group (a project of the University of Orange), developed the concept of Collective Recovery, a theory that focuses on the idea that in moments like this we cannot focus on heroes and victims, but rather that we must focus on the collective: that we are all in pain, that we all hurt, and most importantly, we are all the makers and authors of what our collective recovery can be. She developed this concept in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York City, where the tendency was to focus on the geographic footprint of the attacks (a one-mile radius around the twin towers), and the workers, businesses and first responders, rather than realize that the entire region was hurting. 

I have found Rodriguez’s framing of the four tasks of Collective Recovery - Remember, Respect, Learn, and Connect - to be grounding at this time. The central question in all of this is when thinking about recovery is “what is yours to do?”

We have seen examples of all four tasks play out over the lifespan of this forced and managed retreat: We have seen seamstresses create an assembly line, churning out masks by the thousands. We have seen neighborhoods place teddy bears in their windows for children to see on their daily walks. We have experienced the connection of friends near and far in the form of food deliveries and care packages. And we have collectively banged on pots and pans every night at 7pm in honor of our essential workers. These are not government sanctioned activities, nor are these leaders professional health workers or urban planners. These are the community builders we need now. 

These tasks are all of ours to do. And there is still more to do! This recovery is ours to imagine, and ours to create. And it is this recovery, together, that will build healthy communities for the future. 

Nupur Chaudhury, MUP, MPH is the Urbanist-in-Residence, Cities Research Group at University of Orange, Orange, NJ, USA. She is a Fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar having participated in the program, Building Healthy, Equitable Communities: The Role of Inclusive Urban Development and Investment in October 2018. She is a co-author of the Salzburg Statement on Confronting Power and Privilege for Inclusive, Equitable and Healthy Communities

How Can Urban Planning Contribute to Building Health Equity?
How Can Urban Planning Contribute to Building Health Equity?
By: Sharon Roherty 

Chair of the Salzburg Global program on Building Healthy, Equitable Communities: The Role of Inclusive Urban Development and Investment, Sharon Roerty writes for The BMJ on what can be done to make cities a more healthy place to live

This article is part of The BMJ's Building Healthy Communities collection.

Place is among the many social factors—including income, education, food security and early childcare and development—that contribute to health, both individually and collectively. Study after study have shown that how long and how well you can expect to live have much to do with where you reside.[1]

55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas; by 2050, that figure is expected to reach 68%.[2] Urban features such as housing density[3], public transport[4], sanitation[5] and green space[6] all have significant impacts on health.

Yet, in so many places all over the world, urban development and investment do not support opportunities for everyone to achieve optimal health—the definition of health equity. Instead, development and investment decisions have created deep-rooted barriers to good health. Faced with challenges like concentrated and entrenched poverty, substandard housing, pollution, poor public transportation and neglected and unsafe parks and streets, too many people start behind and stay behind. 

In October 2018, at the Salzburg Global Seminar program on Building Healthy Equitable Communities supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, there was consensus that investors, planners, engineers and developers can and must hold themselves accountable for increasing opportunities for everyone to be healthier, especially people living in places where obstacles to a long, healthy life are greatest. Building on that discussion, a series of articles coming from that meeting explore a number of questions, including the following:

  • How can investments in urban revitalization and infrastructure advance health, equity and the public good?
  • What are the key policy strategies and practices that address the roots of inequality and support healthier and more inclusive housing, transportation, utilities and open space systems? 
  • How can cities foster a shared sense of community to build infrastructure that serves the public interest? 
  • How can citizen science and data be used to promote equitable development and community-driven solutions?

Part of the problem has been the failure to integrate health into urban planning and decision-making. Around the world, examples abound of more integrated and more conscious approaches to urban development and improvement. Being intentional about whom such improvements will benefit will result in opportunities for better health and well-being for everyone.

Bogatá, Columbia, pioneered the use of ciclovías, the regular closing of main streets to automobiles for runners, bicyclists, skaters and most importantly every kind of people, to use freely. This practice has expanded to cities around the world. Meanwhile, major cities in Spain have declared a war on cars—banning or limiting their use on designated streets. A new study estimates that Barcelona’s plan to limit cars and capture nearly 70 percent of street space for bikes and pedestrians could save 667 lives per year.[7]  

Housing is another area of intense interest. In Nairobi, Kenya, where slums occupy about 2 percent of the land but house half the city’s population, the Muungano alliance has organised residents to save collectively, meet regularly and demand and help fund community improvements, including sanitation, water, housing and electricity. And in Delhi, India, a company called Micro Home Solutions takes an interdisciplinary design approach—drawing on the insights of sociologists, urban planners, architects, policymakers, and engineers—to create sound and sustainable housing for low-income dwellers.

As these and many other examples show, we can make the world’s cities healthier and more equitable by designing and building communities with the explicit goals of inclusion, health and opportunity for all. This will require leveraging the potential of the built environment to both prevent disease and promote health equity. The other articles in this collection provide details on how leaders working across sectors can achieve this.

Sharon Roerty, a senior program officer who joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2011, is an urban alchemist who has spent a lot of time at the intersection of health and transportation. She served as the Chair of the Salzburg Global Seminar program on Building Healthy, Equitable Communities: The Role of Inclusive Urban Development and Investment in October 2018. The program was held in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


  1. Marmot M. “Social determinants of health inequalities.” The Lancet, March 19, 2005, 365 (9464) 1099-1104.
  2. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. “68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, says UN.” May 16, 2018. Available at: 
  3. Braveman P, Dekker M, Egerter S, Sadegh-Nobari T and Pollack C. “An examination of the many ways in which housing can influence health and strategies to improve health through emphasis on healthier homes.” The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, May 1, 2011. Available at: 
  4. Frank LD, Andresen MA and Schmid TL. “Obesity relationships with community design, physical activity, and time spent in cars.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 27 (2) Aug. 2004: 87-96.
  5. WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health. “Globalization, water and health.” Globalization and Health Knowledge Network, May 2007. Available at: 
  6. Braubach M, Egoroy A, Pierpaolo M, Wolf T, Ward Thompson C and Martuzzi M. “Effects of urban green space on environmental health, equity and resilience.” Theory and Practice of Urban Sustainability Transitions. Springer, September 2017. Available at: 
  7. Bliss L. “The Life-Saving Benefits of Barcelona’s Car-Free Superblocks.” City Lab, September 9, 2019. Available at: 
Building Healthier Communities
Building Healthier Communities
By: Salzburg Global Fellows 

Fellows of Salzburg Global programs on healthier and more equitable communities pen blog series for The BMJ

In 2017 and 2018, Salzburg Global Seminar in partnership with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation convened a series of three programs exploring the conditions which can create and protect health and wellbeing beyond a traditional focus on health care. The three sessions covered hospitals, urban planning, and childhood obesity.

In the intervening months, several Salzburg Global Fellows of those programs have come together to write a series of articles for The BMJ, all of which are available for free. The articles in this collection reflect the wide ranging discussions by program participants from around the world, identifying challenges and opportunities for building healthier communities.

John Lotherington, Salzburg Global Program Director said: "We’re delighted to see this collection of articles arising from our sessions in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on Building Healthy Communities: the Role of Hospitals and Building Healthy, Equitable Communities: The Role of Inclusive Urban Development and Investment*. They are great contributions to our joint goal of how better to build a culture of health, bringing together stakeholders from diverse sectors and from every continent.

"We should pay tribute to all the authors, who carried the energy and ideas forward from the session, and despite onerous 'day jobs' continued these collaborations to produce such fascinating articles which, through BMJ Online, will influence thinking around the world."

The Role of Hospitals

GDP and the economics of despair
We should switch to a measure that promotes health, not consumption, says Harry Burns

Hospitals could be anchors for an economy focused on wellbeing
Paul Simpson asks how can healthcare systems help build healthy societies beyond providing high quality medical care

Can New Zealand’s wellbeing budget help address social inequalities?
Plans for a wellbeing budget have been met with both scepticism and hope, reports Anna Matheson

Lowering hospital walls to achieve health equity
Hospitals have a pivotal role in reducing health inequities for indigenous people and other marginalised groups, argue Anna Matheson and colleagues

How healthcare can help heal communities and the planet
The gains from healthcare are often undermined by the sector’s contributions to social inequity and environmental damage, but it doesn’t have to be that way argue Damon Francis and colleagues

Inclusive Urban Development and Investment

Strengthening the links between planning and health in England
Gemma McKinnon and colleagues argue that multidisciplinary action in planning and health will contribute to more equitable communities and improved health and wellbeing

How can urban planning contribute to building health equity?
Sharon Roerty tells us more about what can be done to make cities a more healthy place to live.

Confronting power and privilege for inclusive, equitable, and healthy communities
Ascala Sisk and colleagues set out a call to interrogate power and analyse privilege to create and sustain healthy communities.

Connected green spaces in cities pay real dividends
Nick Chapman writes about the benefits of urban green spaces.

*A third set of articles connected with the RWJF-funded program on Healthy Children, Healthy Weight is forthcoming. 

This collection is a series of articles based on discussions from Salzburg Global Seminar programs on building healthy communities. Open access fees were funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The BMJ peer reviewed, edited, and made the decision to publish the article with no involvement from the foundation.

Confronting Power and Privilege for Inclusive, Equitable and Healthy Communities
Image: Erin White/Unsplash
Confronting Power and Privilege for Inclusive, Equitable and Healthy Communities
By: Ascala Sisk and Salzburg Global Fellows 

Salzburg Global Fellows set out a call to interrogate power and analyze privilege to create and sustain healthy communities 

This article is part of the British Medical Journal's Building Healthy Communities collection.

According to the World Health Organization, inclusive, healthy and just communities are places that continually create and improve the physical and social environment to enable all people to be mutually supportive in all functions of life and to develop their maximum potential.[1] It is suggested that only 16% of health outcomes are determined by the quality and availability of health care; and the social and economic determinants of health, including where people live play a more significant role.[2]

This goes beyond the quality of physical structures in the urban environment or the space inside a home. It is about understanding neighbourhood conditions and the availability and quality of other determinants of health, such as employment, healthy food, childcare, schools, transport and recreation space. We know geographic disparities in health, which often fall along lines of ethnicity and socioeconomic status, are growing and can exist even between people living in adjacent neighbourhoods.[3] Health professionals and urban development practitioners therefore have an important role to play to ensure the practices and processes governing the design and development of our urban environment are inclusive and equitable for all and ultimately contribute to improved population health.

A Call to Action: Interrogate Power and Analyze Privilege to Create and Sustain Healthy Communities

The scale of current and potential inequalities in the urban environment demands a revolution of purpose and accountability. The challenges we face in building and sustaining healthy and equitable communities demand new forms of thinking, problem solving, governance, and decision making. Most importantly, it requires that we learn the skills of interrogating power and analysing privilege. 

Whether resources do, or do not, flow to communities is a direct product of both individual and institutional power. Power is defined as the ability to direct laws, policies, and investment that shape people’s lives. Privilege is the accumulation of benefits of special rights. Both power and privilege have been extracted and hoarded, consciously or not, by certain groups at the expense of others based on social categorisations including, but not limited to, class, ethnicity, religion, physical ability, and gender.[4,5,6]

We call on health professionals, planners, public servants, developers, financiers, and engineers – in fact, all practitioners working at the intersection of health and the built environment – to shift their normal course of business towards adopting practices that recognise privilege and cede power. This requires pushing against conscious and unconscious practices and the societal beliefs and norms that marginalise, exclude and perpetuate inequity. We charge this community of practitioners to dismantle the structures, systems and practices that reinforce inequity. Even with best intentions, data-driven interventions, and evidence-based improvements, we will inadvertently perpetuate inequities and widen disparities if we are not conscious of our own power and the power structures within which we work.

We know that power and privilege can be complex and sometimes overwhelming concepts, but we can and must engage with them. We have proposed steps below for health professionals, policy makers and urban development practitioners and other stakeholders to begin the journey. We make this call to action to fundamentally shift the way we plan, build, program, advocate, and legislate our communities to ensure the health and quality of life for all. While it may seem a daunting task to connect this aspirational call to on-the-ground practice, we urge that this not be a reason for inaction since “professional silence in the face of social injustice is wrong.”[7]

Steps for Examining Power and Privilege in Support of Healthy and Inclusive Communities

1. Create and/or seek out “Brave Spaces” to explore the role of power in your work

Confronting power and its role in our work begins by creating “Brave Spaces”. Brave spaces are intentional environments and settings that facilitate the courageous, uncomfortable, and honest exploration of social categorizations such as physical ability, race, ethnicity, class, and gender identity and the privilege or marginalisation that is extended to individuals based on these categorizations.[8

Brave spaces are created and maintained by a transparent commitment to practices that allow difference and celebrate new forms of action and strategy. You create brave spaces when you:

  • Speak your truth and listen deeply to the truth that others speak
  • Learn the truth about historical trauma and accept its impact on yourself and those you serve
  • Understand and honour your own experience and the experiences of others in equal measure
  • Bring your vulnerability to the table and create the space for others to be vulnerable
  • Invite yourself to make mistakes and be generous with the mistakes of others 
  • Acknowledge the limits of expertise – an expert frame can shut down learning 
  • Hold yourself and others accountable to practices that affirm diversity and inclusion

2. Understand the role that power plays in your current work

Within the brave space created above, consider as an urban developer, policy maker or health professional, a program, policy initiative, or other effort that you are working on to improve the physical, social and economic conditions of communities and ask the following:

  • What is the problem I’m trying to solve?
  • What decisions, policies, and practices have historically contributed to the problem? What is the root cause of the problem?
  • What is the formal and informal, the visible and invisible, decision-making or governance structure shaping the problem?
  • What would it look like if the problem is solved?
  • Who consistently benefits from the problem not being solved?
  • Who consistently suffers from the problem not being solved?
  • Are the people most affected by this problem represented in the decision-making process?
  • In seeking data, what sources of data are considered legitimate, and by whom? Are there credible sources that are being suppressed or dismissed because the power structure has deemed them unreliable?

3. Analyze and Challenge Privilege

Privilege is the accumulation of benefits of special rights, often over time, to a certain group. Think about your work and your role in your community of practice and ask:

  • What are the areas of life in which you hold privilege?
  • Despite your work to change outcomes, what remains the same?
  • Despite changes in the wider professional or sociopolitical context, what remains the same?
  • What are the cycles, actions, and processes we repeat regardless of the outcome?
  • Does a new protocol or procedure worsen or help existing disparities?

Privilege often shows itself when the status quo is challenged. When such a challenge is presented, and conflict ensues, ask yourself:

  • Who or what is blamed for the conflict in the narrative describing the challenge?
  • Who or what is sacrificed to resolve the conflict?
  • Are there any patterns that you can observe?
  • If the problem was “resolved”, did the group or process return to the norm or status quo? 
  • Who or what restores things to what they were before the conflict?

Download the Salzburg Statement on Confronting Power and Privilege for Inclusive, Equitable and Healthy Communities as a PDF


Ascala Sisk, Deputy Director, Center for Community Investment, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy; Odetta MacLeish-White, Managing Director, TransFormation Alliance; Vedette Gavin, Principle, Verge Impact Partners; Tamika Butler, Director, Equity and Inclusion and Director of CA Planning, Toole Design; Liz Ogbu, Founder + Principal, Studio O; Veronica O. Davis, P.E., Managing Partner, Nspiregreen LLC; Nupur Chaudhury, Program Officer, New York State Health Foundation, Urbanist in Residence, University of Orange; Sharon Roerty, Senior Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Hanaa Hamdi, Director of Health Impact Investment Strategies and Partnerships, New Jersey Community Capital; Kelly Worden, Director, Health Research, U.S. Green Building Council; Noxolo Kabane, Deputy Director, Western Cape Department of Human Settlements; Shelly Poticha, Managing Director, Natural Resources Defense Council; and Hedzer Pathuis, Strategic Project Manager, City of Utrecht.


We would like to thank the all sixty-five fellows who participated in Salzburg Global Seminar program Building Healthy, Equitable Communities: The Role of Inclusive Urban Development and Investment, whose vast and varied experience helped to shape our call to action. We’d also like to thank Salzburg Global Seminar and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for creating the space to make connections and cultivate bold ideas.


  1. World Health Organization “Health Promotion Glossary” (2006)
  2. Hood, C. M., K. P. Gennuso, G. R. Swain, and B. B. Catlin. 2016. County health rankings: Relationships between determinant factors and health outcomes. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 50(2):129-135.
  3. Woolf, Steven and Braveman, Paula. 2011. Where Health Disparities Begin: The Role of Social and Economic Determinants – and Why Current Policies May Make Matter Worse. Health Affairs, Vol. 30, No. 10: Agenda for Fighting Disparities,
  4. Project Change’s “The Power of Words” Originally produced for Project Change Lessons Learned II, also included in A Community Builder’s Toolkit – both produced by Project Change and The Center for Assessment and Policy Development with some modification Racial Equity 
  5. McIntosh, Peggy. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Wellesley Centers for Women, Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity. 
  6. Hobbs, Joseph. White Privilege in Health Care: Following Recognition with Action. Ann Fam Med. 2018 May; 16(3): 197-198. 
  7. Berwick, Donald M., MD, MPP. Moral Choices for Today’s Physicians, JAMA. 2017; 318(21):2081-2082. 
  8. Arao, Brian, Clemens, Kristi. From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces, a new way to frame dialogue and diversity and social justice. 2013, Stylus Publishing, LLC. 
Festivals in a Time of Pandemic: How are Leaders Responding to the Coronavirus Crisis?
Festivals in a Time of Pandemic: How are Leaders Responding to the Coronavirus Crisis?
By: Soila Kenya 

Cultural institutions are in crisis. How can leaders in the cultural sector and their teams anticipate and respond to unpredictable situations? What can we learn from crises to catalyze future innovation? Tisa Ho, Executive Director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival shares her insights. 

Festivals are meant to be a special coming together of people, an enchanting celebration of what it means to be human, a concentrated succession of extraordinary in-person events. But what can you do if you are the director of a festival in the midst of a crisis situation, facing the question of whether or not your festival should be canceled as a pandemic sweeps the globe? 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Salzburg Global Seminar program, What Future for Festivals? was postponed from March 10-15 to October 24-28. Weeks earlier, Tisa Ho, executive director of the Hong Kong Arts Festival had been confronted by the similarly difficult decision to cancel the world class performing arts festival, which features over 100 performances and events in February and March each year. 

The Salzburg Global Fellow generously shared her insights in a webinar hosted by Susanna Seidl-Fox, Salzburg Global Program Director for Culture and the Arts, for participants around the globe who had been scheduled to join the What Future for Festivals? program. During the conversation, she described the various learning points she has gained and continues to gain from this unprecedented situation.

The decision to cancel is historic – it is the first time in the festival’s 48-year history that it has been cancelled. As Ho explained: “It began with some international artists expressing anxiety about coming to Hong Kong… and also our venues remaining closed for a certain period. After the Chinese New Year, when the venues were not yet open, we were still anticipating that they would reopen before the festival began and then it seemed less certain and less certain and the situation seemed to get worse and worse.”

For Ho, the possibility of canceling certain parts of the festival had loomed for some time due to the pro-democracy protests that had already been rocking Hong Kong since March 2019. What bolstered her as she traveled these uncharted waters?

From her account, she firstly attributes the smooth process to her very supportive board of directors. Having a diverse selection of people on the board such as government officials and communicable disease experts made the decision-making easier as several points of view could be considered. The board’s decision was clear and clean with no ambiguity, affirming to Ho that as executive director of the festival, she was doing the right thing by going ahead with the cancelation.

Having a reliable communications strategy also alleviated Ho’s anxiety that came with such an important announcement. “The decision to cancel the entire festival was made on February 4.” (The event was due to start on February 13.) “We immediately contacted all of the artists, companies, agents, partners and sponsors and funders. And on the 10th we were able to make the general announcement. It was really important to us that the announcement was globally aligned,” she revealed.

Being sure of the festival’s stakeholders was also paramount for Tisa as she moved forward with her decision. “Bite the bullet. The uncertainty of living from moment to moment is terrible… The later you leave the decision, the worse it becomes because of costs escalating. For partners, the earlier they know, the earlier they can plan in advance,” she said.
The employees of the festival organization are of course also key stakeholders. With most countries now implementing work-from-home directives to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, normal work flow has been disrupted across industries, and the festival industry has of course not been spared. This forced isolation can provoke feelings of fear or demotivation; at the same time, however, they can inspire an even greater level of dedication to the work.

The Hong Kong Arts Festival is trying to make the best of the situation by allowing employees to work from home and supporting local businesses to the greatest extent possible. 

Online Festivals: The Future?

This new reality also brings to the fore a question that has arisen ever since the dawning of the internet and the consequent rapid development of technology: What is the future for festivals in the online world?

After having to cancel upcoming performances due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Metropolitan Opera in New York City for example announced that beginning March 16, it would stream presentations from its “Met Live in HD” series for free.

In Ho’s view, even though the core and essence of festivals is in the live performance, livestreaming is a great idea. It can be used to reach new, wider audiences, and keep existing audiences engaged. If you learn how to add those extra dimensions, it can boost the festival experience. But on exactly how far it can go, she acknowledges that the jury is still out, but the possibilities are endless: “Keeping in touch with our audience year-round is necessary and technology allows us to do this. That sense of community is really important. Festivals are very much a part of life for the community they are in. Different festivals and organizations have different DNAs, but our festival is very much centered on the community,” she said.

For Ho, there is a lot to be learned from these COVID-19 experiences. It is a chance for the festivals community to step back and take a look at the prevailing practices that they continue to hold and to examine whether there might be better ways of executing their missions, no matter how big or small, going forward. Everything from environmental awareness and carbon footprints to the mental health of audiences and artists need to be reexamined.

“We can learn from this COVID-19 crisis. We might not be able to stop touring. But we can re- think some of the choices that we make, including modes of travel or the excessive printing materials, better online ticketing modalities. We can all take incremental but important steps. People will still need to gather. It is a natural human instinct. Let us keep learning from each other!” 

If you are a Salzburg Global Fellow and wish to access a recording of the webinar, please contact Susanna Seidl-Fox:  

“The Show Must Go On” Iranian Online Festival Created to Show the Resilience of Festivals
Sepehr Sharifzadeh speaking during Atelier for Young Festival and Cultural Managers in Shanghai.Sepehr Sharifzadeh speaking during Atelier for Young Festival and Cultural Managers in Shanghai.
“The Show Must Go On” Iranian Online Festival Created to Show the Resilience of Festivals
By: Soila Kenya 

The coronavirus lockdown did not stop Sepehr Sharifzadeh from doing what he does best: bringing people together to celebrate the arts.

For Sepehr Sharifzadeh, the shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic hit hard.

“My first passion in life is festivals; the whole fun of having festivals, gathering people, having the collective energy,” he said in an interview with Salzburg Global.

He was set to hold a festival in the historic Iranian city of Yazd, a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the beginning of March. He had been preparing for it for six months.

“We just got the permissions in February. I talked with many people to bring them to Yazd; six international groups… Two days before the festival was meant to start, they told us that due to the outbreak we cannot have the festival. We need to postpone it or cancel it,” lamented Sharifzadeh.

Sharifzadeh, whose first name means sky, is a theatre agent, producer and festival organizer. With an academic background in creative writing and puppet theater, at the age of 24, he co-founded the first Iranian international theater agency, Nowrouze Honar, the main goal of which is to facilitate the cultural exchange between Iran and the world through performances.

He was due to share his experiences at the now-postponed program What Future for Festivals? The program will now take place in October and Sharifzadeh will have yet more experience to share when he finally comes to Salzburg: how to continue a festival when you cannot physically bring people together.

He describes the devastation he felt after hearing news of the cancelation of the festival he had been organizing. After informing the performers of the cancelation, he was unable to answer emails for two days afterward.

“But then I got myself together,” he narrates. “Iranian people are very flexible and we’ve had enough of these kinds of situations to learn from. So this outbreak is only like another thing for us, you know. At least during the last year, unfortunately, we’ve had enough of death in different cities in Iran. We’ve had enough of people having troubles.”

It is this resilience in the face of adversity that got him out of his low mood to get together with two colleagues and co-create the Re-connect Online Performance Festival to be broadcast on Instagram Live. Along with Nima Dehghani, a San Francisco-based transdisciplinary artist who's the Founder and Artistic Director of Ctrl+Z Theater Group and Fariborz Karimi, Artistic Director of Theatricultural Residency and Co-founder of Bohemi Theater Group, Tehran, the three designed this festival in order to bring artists from all around the world together for solidarity against the recent pandemic panic.

“The whole concept of festivals is changing. And I was like, ‘No, this is keeping up your spirits,’ so the show must go on no matter what,” said Sharifzadeh.

For further diversity in content, his colleagues Meera Krishna from Prakriti Foundation, India, Liu Xiaoyi of Emergency Stairs, Singapore and Erica McCalman of the Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM), Australia are helping to curate shows from their regions.

They held the pilot edition of the festival March 25-30, with performances ranging from puppet theatre, acting and singing. Additionally, there were discussion panels held about a range of topics from the challenges of working on the “presence” from a distance to whether “digital theatre” can be considered as “immersive performance”. The main festival is being held April 5-12.

Panelists included Azadeh Ganjeh, playwright and theater director and assistant professor in the faculty of performing art and music at the University of Tehran, and Omid Hashemi, member of Rekhneh Collective, and pedagogical director of the Ecole International d'Acteur Createur, among others.

Sharifzadeh was able to draw performers and panelists together in this short amount of time to the point where the festival’s Instagram account has already gained over 1,800 followers.

More than just a way to bring joy to people in order to cope with the pandemic, Sharifzadeh is also greatly concerned for the mental health of the artists, and sees it as a way for them to network, and connect with one another.

Sharifzadeh says he looks forward to his time in Salzburg even more now. “I look forward to meeting people who have the same passion as me about the festivals. The program topic, ‘What Future for Festivals?’ is more relevant than ever because we came across a very specific situation in the world that we could actually divide the history into pre-corona and post-corona time,” he reveals.

In the meantime, he is dedicating his full time to the Re-connect Festival, whose page discloses their hope for the future: “Maybe if this festival was repeated in the following years, we would say to all that in February 2020, when the theaters were closed when the people were stuck at their homes when it was the Corona years, a group of artists came together through the internet and the festival started. We hope that all together, with joining forces we could take a step in the interests of society, the arts, and the human connections.”

Zoe Chun: Art Community - A Salon of This Generation
Zoe Chun: Art Community - A Salon of This Generation
By: Zoe Chun 

Salzburg Global Fellow Zoe Chun reflects on her experience at the sixth program of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum

This article was originally published in the Seoul Art Guide.

Last month, I attended the 6th YCI Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria. Leaders, artists, and activists from nonprofit cultural and arts organizations from 50 countries around the world spent a week together to discuss their visions and values for creation. In hindsight, I would say the purpose of this international seminar was not so much to network as to pursue a series of coalitions. Commenting on these expressions, a 'coalition' aims at building and promoting a community, whereas to 'network' implies some kind of exchange—that is, connection. Perhaps the biggest difference in nuance would be that the concept of 'coalition' abstractly implies an ultimate continuity. In what ways, then, could such community ultimately impact the present cultural and artistic world, especially in the exhibition area of contemporary art?

About 50 participants covered various topics including humanitarianism, gender, and human rights based on multinational languages, cultures, and religious backgrounds. Through lectures, discussions, and workshops, we shared approaches to 'sustainability' (which are discussed at major nonprofit organizations), creative social movements for the underprivileged and minorities, and other unique artistic perspectives about local communities from extremely personal stories and experiences.

This community of young cultural workers that formed during a short period of time reminded me of the salon culture that prevailed in the 18th century. In fact, Schloss Leopoldskron, which was where the seminar was held and has been one of the major sites of the Rococo style, was founded in the 18th century. Later, in the early 20th century, an innovative playwright and director named Max Reinhardt founded the Salzburg Festival with leading intellectuals and artists of the time, such as a romantic composer Richard Strauss and a lyrist poet Hugo von Hoffmanstall, and the place became a prominent local cultural attraction.

From the Victorian era since the Reform Act of 1832 to the Nazi regime era in the 1930s to the present, the historical periods of wounds, oppression, and recovery had left their legacies in this space that are now giving young cultural innovators new inspirations and a will to challenge the contemporary perspectives. Perhaps because of this, the participants did not constrain themselves in method and format of their presentations as they played their music, showed short films they directed, and read poems of various sentiments inspired during this period. Coexisting alongside the romantic and emotional elements mentioned earlier were physical dynamics such as live music performances, b-boy dances, and yoga. It is no exaggeration to say that this week-long salon as a loose but united relationship, a free but inclusive environment, gave us all a sense of camaraderie at the level of a mere friendship.

Sadly, the past glory of the salon culture has deteriorated and disappeared as it faced, unlike its origin, limitations in transcending political flows and classes. Whether the attempt and purpose were experimental or aesthetic, the root of the arduous pursuit for aesthetics and philosophy at that time was a 'dialogue.'

Rather than simply telling stories, it repeats a cycle of life interaction, comfort for emotional and spiritual solidarities, courage, recovery, and challenge.

Furthermore, the 'dialogue' is a kind of phenomenal history that forms a memory with the space that was born itself, and a present that anticipates its future influence.

In 1961, at the Theater of Odéon in Paris, when a sculptor Alberto Giacometti was working on a skinny tree, preparing a stage for Samuel Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot,' Giacometti later recalled:

“It was considered as a tree. or a tree and a moon.
We worked all night experimenting with the tree. making bigger. and then smaller.
or sometimes making the branches thinner.
And then we would say to each other. 'well..'
(Dialogue into the VoId: Beckett & Giacometti. Matti Megged, 1985)

In this short three-part series, I would like to take the contemporary art that has sunk into the established order beyond an institutional exhibition and question the concept of an exhibition from a historic, cultural point of view. I hope that in contemporary art the concept of exhibitions can be redefined into ones where it can break from the extant isolated systems and structures to cultivate a healthy and sustainable community, where it can break from the distinctions between experts and non-experts to foster a real coalition of emotions and sensibilities. At the same time, I lay my hopes on my colleagues and artists who are already striving in where a real attention and interest is needed—the field outside the established order. 

Zoe Chun / Independent Curator & Director of The Great Commission
Translated by Minji Chun, Edited by Eugene Park

The Salzburg Global Seminar Program, Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform, is part of the Young Cultural Innovators Forum annual program. The program is held in partnership with Adena and David Testa, Arts Council KoreaArts Council Maltathe Bush FoundationCanada Council for the ArtsJapan Foundationthe Korea Foundationthe Kresge FoundationLloyd A. Fry Foundationthe McKnight Foundationthe Nippon FoundationSalama Bint Hamdan al Nahyan FoundationShalini Passi Art Foundation, and World Culture Open.

Future Lawyers and Mentors Explore International Legal Challenges in Washington
Eighth cohort of Cutler Fellows and faculty representatives meet in Washington, DC.
Future Lawyers and Mentors Explore International Legal Challenges in Washington
By: Carla Zahra 

Salzburg Cutler Fellows discuss how international law and legal systems can tackle challenges ranging from human rights to climate change and global economic issues

WASHINGTON, DC – Students from 14 top law schools across the United States met in Washington, DC to explore the future of public and private international law at the eighth annual Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program

The two-day program (February 20-22, 2020) saw top law students engage with prominent legal professionals, public servants, and leaders in the fields of international law and public service. 

Speakers this year included Judge Diane P. Wood, Chief United States Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for The Seventh Circuit; Luis Almagro, Secretary General, Organization of American States (OAS); John B. Bellinger, III, Partner, Arnold & Porter LLP and former Legal Adviser to the US Department of State and National Security Council; and Stephen J. Hadley, Principal of RiceHadleyGates LLC, former United States National Security Advisor. 

While all studying in the US, the 56 students of the eighth cohort of Cutler Fellows represented 13 countries, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Kenya, Nepal, and the Republic of Korea, as well as the USA. 

Of the 14 law schools taking part in the program, Cornell, Northwestern, and UC Berkeley were welcomed to the program for the first time. These schools joined the law schools of Chicago, Columbia, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, New York University, Penn, Stanford, the University of Virginia, and Yale, which had taken part in previous iterations of the program since 2012.

During this year’s program opening at the United States Institute of Peace, Judge Wood spoke about the importance of international legal institutions, drawing on her experiences presiding over cases with international ramifications as a U.S. Appellate Chief Judge. “As Voltaire said, ‘If God didn’t exist, we would have to invent him.’ I would say if international law didn’t exist, we would be inventing it right now,” Judge Wood said.

On Friday evening, Bellinger discussed war powers with Hadley, reflecting on the evolution of Congress’ war-making authority since the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, as well as the current War Powers Resolution in the US Senate following the recent strike on Iranian General Qassem Suleimani. The next morning, at New York University’s Washington campus, Almagro spoke about the conventions underpinning international human rights laws and the role of the OAS in upholding them. 

In addition, Fellows received individual critique on their student papers from faculty of the participating law schools, as well as further advice on how to seek publication in journals. This year’s papers covered diverse topics, ranging from domestic violence, to LGBTQ rights activism, to international environment criminal law and investment and sovereign lending in Africa.

In the program’s Knowledge Café, students discussed personal ambitions and potential career routes in international law with mentors from Third Way, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies,New Markets Lab, the International Monetary Fund and Covington & Burling

Speaking to this year’s participants, Stephen L. Salyer, President and CEO of Salzburg Global Seminar, said, “It has been a pleasure to see the hard work you have put in and the fast friendships you have made here, and we look forward to continuing these connections through our Cutler and Salzburg Global Fellowship.”

The Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program is held under the auspices of the Lloyd N. Cutler Center for the Rule of Law. The program is held in collaboration with fourteen of the leading US law schools. This year’s program was sponsored by Arnold & Porter LLP, B; Thomas Mansbach, a board member and the chair of the Cutler Center Advisory Board; and NYU Washington, DC, and contributors to the Lloyd N. Cutler Center for the Rule of Law.

Don’t Be Scared, Get Prepared
In the forefront, Sars-Cov2 written in black ink on a perspex screen. In the background, a person wearing forensic clothing.Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Don’t Be Scared, Get Prepared
By: Oscar Tollast 

As the world faces another possible pandemic, experts ask how can we find outbreaks faster?

On the eve of 2020, a new strain of coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2 was reported from Wuhan, China. By the end of February, the number of confirmed cases of infection, called COVID-19, surpassed 80,000, the infection spread to 30 other countries, and the outbreak was declared a global health emergency. Within two months, COVID-19 had claimed nearly 3,000 lives, with many more at risk.

Mark Smolinski envisions a world without pandemics, a world with faster detection of outbreaks and fewer fatalities. He says, “This really is a wake-up call and outbreaks such as this that spread from animals to humans will continue to occur. My motto is, ‘Don’t be scared, get prepared.’”

For the past 25 years, Smolinski has worked to improve disease prevention and control across the globe. As president of Ending Pandemics, Mark and his team work to improve infectious disease surveillance. In short, they help countries find outbreaks faster.

Like the age old adage, “What gets measured, gets done,” Ending Pandemics developed a framework for measuring timeliness of outbreak detection and response, along with a set of other key milestones.

Ending Pandemics piloted such timeliness metrics in 28 countries to test the feasibility of measurement. Ending Pandemics then hosted a sector-spanning, international program with Salzburg Global Seminar in 2018, to refine these metrics and identify mechanisms to aid their widespread implementation.

Smolinski says, “Much to our surprise, this diverse group of people representing many sectors and countries came to agreement on standard milestone definitions.” The World Health Organization and other agencies have since adopted the timeliness metrics for measuring the impact of an outbreak on human health.

But pandemics affect more than just people. Often diseases start in animals and transfer to humans, and the health of animals and humans both impact the health of the environment – and vice versa. Greater recognition of this relationship led to the call for “One Health” timeliness metrics.

Expanding on their earlier work on human outbreak timelines metrics, Ending Pandemics led a diverse group of experts that spanned the One Health spectrum at a second program with Salzburg Global in 2019. The consensus between the experts gathered was again expeditious as they drafted a set of One Health timeliness metrics. Smolinski credits the Salzburg program for the speedy breakthrough. “To be able to come away with completely satisfactory results in the end really speaks to the process and the preparation that goes into [the program],” he says.

This more complete set of timeliness metrics are still designed around “milestones”: the dates when an outbreak is predicted, detected, verified and responded to, when the authorities are notified, and when a multisectoral investigation is launched, lab tests conducted, control measures implemented and the public informed.

Smolinski says, “The metrics are a set of indicators against which we can measure progress. We have build them into how we monitor our work. We’re helping countries figure out how to build them into their automated disease surveillance systems for continuous improvement.

“We hope that these simple set of metrics, in the end, will allow countries to regularly calculate them as performance measures. They’re so common sense. The reality that they’re not systematically collected is a challenge we can easily overcome.”

Ending Pandemics continues to provide scientific, technical, and financial support to find outbreaks faster in emerging disease hotspots. The spread of COVID-19 has shown the world is still not ready to prevent pandemics, according to Smolinski, as still plenty of challenges remain.

“What motivates me is the fact that the challenges continue to exist, that the opportunities with new technology, data sharing, and artificial intelligence are just so exciting that I’m convinced we can find outbreaks faster and contain them at their source.”

Dottie Schindlinger - What Can Boards Do to Create Structure and Process Around Innovation?
Dottie Schindlinger at Salzburg Global SeminarDottie Schindlinger at Salzburg Global Seminar
Dottie Schindlinger - What Can Boards Do to Create Structure and Process Around Innovation?
By: Dottie Schindlinger 

Executive director at the Diligent Institute outlines four ways directors can cultivate innovation

This article is part of the series, the Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance by the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum

Among the line-up of this year’s nine films for the Best Picture Oscar was the movie Ford v. Ferrari. In the film, Ford Motor Company invests in building the first American race car to win the brutal, 24-hour long race at Le Mans. It’s a traditional portrayal of corporate innovation: there is the spark of an idea, and then a massive, expensive (and even a little crazy) process ensues, with a new invention being tested and refined behind closed doors until it’s ready for the market.

The reality of innovation today is as far from this depiction as Michigan is from France. Today’s approach is one of rapid iteration – bringing products to market as quickly as possible, even before they are fully developed. For teams of designers, engineers, marketers, and salespeople, the cycle of “inspect and adapt” has become the norm. But how does the innovation cycle play out in boardrooms?

Four Ways Directors Can Cultivate Innovation

1. Put innovation on the board’s agenda

It might sound simple, but a good place to start is to include discussion of innovation at board meetings.  More importantly, make sure those discussions aren’t limited only to innovations in current plans and products (such as novel ways to reduce costs).  Dedicating time on the board’s agenda to stepping outside the “comfort zone” can help generate creative discussion. 

Serial tech entrepreneur and corporate director Betsy Atkins share some great strategies in her recent interview on The Corporate Director Podcast: set up annual learning opportunities for directors that include offsite “technology tours” in places like Silicon Valley and hold working dinners on themes like “digital transformation” with external expert presenters with competing viewpoints to spark board conversation.

2. Make sure the board has the right talent in the room

In a recent survey, when asked if they felt their boards had the right talent in place to help their companies thrive in this age of digital disruption, nearly half of directors responded either “no” or “not sure.” This is hardly surprising – directors with digital technology expertise are scarce.  A recent study by MIT reviewing over 1,200 public companies with revenues over $1 billion found only 24% had directors with technology expertise.

To help spur innovation, boards should consider expanding the profile of directors they are recruiting – but don’t fall into the trap of looking for a generic “digital director.” In our recent book, Governance in the Digital Age, AI expert Dr. Anastassia Lauterbach summarized it perfectly: “Boards need to do a better job crafting board profiles and understanding the areas they need to strengthen… Someone who understands how to protect networks might not be the right person for harnessing technological innovation for competitive advantage.”

3. Create a culture of shared curiosity

Growth is critical, but growth is not a strategy. Boards must keep their eyes on the horizon and remain open to new opportunities, while simultaneously ensuring that the company has not fallen into the trap of staying too long with a strategy that has become obsolete. There are many examples of companies and industries that have been plowed under by digital disruption – the taxicab industry vs. ridesharing apps Uber & Lyft, Kodak vs. digital photography, and Blockbuster Video vs. digital streaming video.

Directors who feed their own curiosity can help companies gain a competitive advantage. Directors should constantly be self-educating themselves by attending conferences, reading, listening to podcasts, watching TED Talks, gaining exposure to new ideas – and share what they learn to elevate the level of board discussion.

4. Disrupt outdated board processes

The way most companies communicate with boards isn’t particularly innovation-minded. Consider board reports: lengthy documents that are carefully crafted, reviewed, and vetted by multiple individuals before finally being sent to the board. The information could be weeks old by the time a director reads it, and any questions must wait for the meeting. This formal process can be stifling to innovation, which requires greater openness and agility.

But as with most other teams throughout the company, boards can now leverage digital tools to share information and collaborate.  Companies can digitize board documents and distribute them to shorten the information lag time considerably. New AI-fueled tools allow directors to benchmark company performance, spot potential areas of opportunity or vulnerability, and plan various scenarios. Giving boards these kinds of tools reduces the effort of routine board work, freeing time, and brain space for more creative discussion. And it provides directors with the opportunity to use digital technology in ways that help them “see around the corners.”

Have an opinion?

We encourage our readers to share your comments by joining in the discussion on LinkedIn.

Dottie Schindlinger is executive director of Diligent Institute, the research arm of Diligent Corporation, leading provider of modern governance software. In her role, Dottie researches and presents findings on the intersection of governance and technology as a recognized expert in the field. She is the co-author of Governance in the Digital Age: A Guide for the Modern Corporate Board Director, and co-hosts The Corporate Director Podcast. Dottie was a founding team member of BoardEffect, a board management software platform serving nonprofit boards, acquired by Diligent in 2016. Prior to BoardEffect, she spent 15 years working in a variety of governance roles, including as a board support professional, consultant, trainer, board member, and senior executive. Dottie graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in English.Dottie is a Fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar.

The Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance is an online discussion series introduced and led by Fellows of the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum. The articles and comments represent opinions of the authors and commenters, and do not necessarily represent the views of their corporations or institutions, nor of Salzburg Global Seminar. Readers are welcome to address any questions about this series to Forum Director, Charles E. Ehrlich: To receive a notification of when the next article is published, follow Salzburg Global Seminar on LinkedIn or sign up for email notifications here:

Finding Common Ground through Cultural Innovation
Members of YCI Canada Hub gather in Haida Gwaii
Finding Common Ground through Cultural Innovation
By: Carla Zahra 

YCI Canada fellows explore their commonalities and differences during a Haida Gwaii research-residency

When one Young Cultural Innovator invited fellow delegates to gather on his home territory in Haida Gwaii, an archipelago of 150 islands off British Columbia’s West Coast in Canada, it opened up a new dimension of fostering relationships for cultural collaboration. Supported by Salzburg Global Seminar and the Canada Council for the Arts, the visit enabled members of the YCI Canada Hub to explore their shared and diverse experiences, focusing on understanding and supporting Indigenous sovereignty in their works as individuals and as a group. 

The research-residency took place between September 22 and September 28, 2019, in Skidegate, a Haida community in Haida Gwaii. The seven participants were all delegates from the Canada Hub of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI). These participants included Patrick Shannon (Nang K’uulas), Nikki Shaffeeullah, and J.S. Ryu, who took part in the 2017 program of the YCI Forum, and Alyssa Fearon, Brian McBay, Lindsey Mae Willie and Jenna Winter from the 2018 program of the YCI Forum. 

Through a series of in-depth conversations, the participants found common ground discussing the history of colonialism and their shared experience of anti-colonial work within the cultural sector. Together, they explored topics such as colonization, Indigenous sovereignty, and land title. Apart from seeking ways of supporting equal pay policies for arts workers in Canada, members of this YCI Hub also spoke about how each of their organizations could thrive in a complex environment by advocating for better policies that would serve historically underrepresented communities. This inspired fruitful conversations about what work can be achieved through collaboration as a Hub. 

Upon arriving in Skidegate, Patrick Shannon gave an overview of Haida Gwaii’s recent history, including its colonization and subsequent work towards decolonization. The role of the Haida Nation as a leading example in Indigenous self-governance, settler-Indigenous relationships, language preservation and repatriation of “objects” became evident to those that were not previously aware of it. On their second day, Lindsey Mae Willie presented a summary of the impacts of the imposition of the Indian Act on First Nations in Canada, in particular to her own people, the Musgamakw Dzawada’enuxw. 

“We also learned that the immense geography in Canada can oversimplify the relationships between regions at times, thereby complicating our work as a national ‘Hub.’ Though we all live in ‘Canada’, we each represent very different regions and communities, from isolated landscapes to large urban centers and from isolated islands to spaces of extractive global capital,” reports the group, in their collaborative summary of the project. 

Through the research-residency program, the YCI delegates also collaborated with individuals and organizations based in Haida Gwaii, including the Haida Heritage Centre, the Skidegate Haida Immersion Program (SHIP), students in Haida Gwaii, the Haida Youth Assembly, the Gidgalang Kuuyas Naay Secondary School and individuals who helped organize the film screening of “Yah’Guudang / Respect for All Living Beings” in Masset. 

The YCI Canada Hub is currently exploring several possible projects that stemmed from their meeting in Haida Gwaii and are planning their next meeting in 2020. 

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected changemakers in “hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

Cultivating History, Documenting Dreams
Jose Cotto at Salzburg Global Seminar
Cultivating History, Documenting Dreams
By: Oscar Tollast 

Photographer and designer Jose Cotto reflects on his return to Salzburg Global Seminar and helping YCI Fellows reach their destinations

Jose Cotto is neither here nor there, neither present nor missing. “I’m back, but I’m not back,” he says while reflecting on his participation at the sixth program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators (YCI).

Cotto, who attended the fifth program in 2018, has returned to Salzburg Global Seminar as a facilitator. His attendance was made possible thanks to the Kresge Foundation. During the program, the New Orleans-based photographer and designer has been capturing candid images and one-on-one portraits with participants. 

“I’ve been trying to find moments – or letting moments find me – where Fellows are sitting with something,” Cotto says. “Where you can tell that something is just resonating just by the body language, the expression, the sort of feeling, and the energy in the room and space.”

Remaining visible while invisible isn’t an unusual skill for Cotto. It’s his mantra. With his photography and design practice, josecottoCREATIVE, Cotto has often explored the relationships between people, place, and time. 

While taking one-on-one portraits, Cotto has asked the newest YCI Fellows to meditate on their time in Salzburg before photographing the moment they transition from “there to here.” 

Cotto believes within all of us lie GPS coordinates for the destination we’re trying to reach. Some of us get off-track, but we don’t lose sight of what that end goal looks like. Cotto suggests the portraits should serve as a compass to help YCI Fellows reach their dreams. 

“The hope is that they’ll have this portrait as a reminder of the place that they went to so that they can revisit it whenever they feel like they’re… losing their course or straying in the wrong direction.”

While growing up in Worcester, Massachusetts, art was a means to escape, forget, and remember for Cotto. Reflecting on his journey this past year, Cotto reveals he has purposefully slowed down. He says, “I’ve still been making work, but it’s been at a very different rate. It’s been a lot more intentional.” 

He’s found time to teach university students and review his archive of work, which dates back more than 10 years and features more than 100,000 photos. Since starting a new job at the Small Center, a community design center at Tulane’s School of Architecture, Cotto has also found time to focus on his architectural and design work. 

“Consistently, throughout it all, it’s been a desire and understanding that slowing down at this point in my life is sort of where I’m at, and the experiences that I’ve been having… really trying to absorb those things as much as possible to try to extrapolate the sort of lessons and the findings that ultimately, I believe, will reveal sort of a… clearer blueprint, if you will, of what it is that I’m actually building and creating.” 

For Cotto, Schloss Leopoldskron is a place tied up with “beautiful moments and conversations.” He’s aware of how significant the experience was for him in 2018 and how much of that came from the shared space built among the Fellows. It’s affected how he’s interacted with Fellows at the 2019 program. 

He says, “I know how lively and enriching these conversations are, and I want to be part of them because those are the things that I love, right? But I’m also mindful that this is an important space for the Fellows to have.”

Memories ignite as Cotto walks through Schloss Leopoldskron’s grounds and corridors. “It feels like I belong in this space... This is a space that I will revisit again throughout my lifetime,” Cotto says. “So, in a lot of ways, it feels like home...”

In January 2020, Cotto’s photos were chosen to feature in a new exhibition housed in Schloss Leopoldskron’s Meierhof Café. His photos appear alongside fellow YCI Yasmine Omari, who also attended the sixth program of the YCI Forum. 

The Salzburg Global Seminar program, Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform, is part of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators Forum multi-year series. The program is held in partnership with Adena and David Testa, Arts Council Korea, Arts Council Malta, the Bush Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Japan Foundation, the Korea Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, Salama Bint Hamdan al Nahyan Foundation, Shalini Passi Art Foundation, and World Culture Open.

Gaining the Trust of both Gen Z and Cyber Seniors
Dr Nicola Mann speaking at the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA)Dr Nicola Mann speaking at the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA)
Gaining the Trust of both Gen Z and Cyber Seniors
By: Nicola Mann 

Nicola Mann, associate professor of communications and visual cultures, examines how news outlets can counter the distrust of both their young and old consumers

The recent program of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA), The Changing Role of the Media in American Life and Culture (September 2019), considered pertinent issues including the significance of truth and verification to current news production and consumption, as well as the role of the media in culture and democracy in the years to come. 

The issue of distrust in the media emerged as a pressing concern for participants, particularly as it pertains to Generation Z (defined as those born between 1997-2012). According to the international team of journalists, editors and political scientists present, we need to identify the unique ways in which this demographic seeks “demystified” news, building on this to prioritize civic intentionality via media literacy programs. 

Framed by high profile stories related to inaccuracy, bias, fake news, and alternative facts, a recent Pew Research Centre survey found that adults aged 18 to 29 possess comparatively low levels of trust in traditional media institutions. A 2018 Knight Foundation report, meanwhile, found that twice as many young adults (18 to 34) as older respondents said politically focused coverage or partisan bias was a factor in their lack of trust. 

Against this backdrop of distrust, participatory modes of news production position journalists and young readers as interchangeable forces on the front lines of truth-telling. As noted at SSASA, gone are the days of the “backseat baby,” a reference to children who grew up listening to singular news media outlets such as NPR in the backs of their parents’ cars. If news outlets wish to attract more young diversified audiences seeking raw, demystified information, they understand that they must engage in creative ways, oftentimes involving multi-dimensional storytelling that balances complexity with engagement. As one academic at SSASA asserted, “subjectivity matters more to them [youth audiences].” Examples include journalism outreach in the form of podcasts, news aggregators such as Reddit, and online forums such as The Washington Post’s “Live Chats” section. Stripped of the curatorial framing of a glossy CNN news story, on demand non-linear platforms highlight the internal subjectivities of young people – not simply those of the newsroom editor – thereby helping to chip away at the specter of lost trust.  

The urgent need to improve civic education in the form of the development of critical literacy skills in the young also emerged as a pressing concern at SSASA. As noted during one panel discussion, the timeliest research in the area of digital literacy operates via classroom-based discourse. The Washington D.C.-based News Literacy Project, for example, is a national education non-profit that works with educators and journalists to equip students in middle school and high school with the tools to discern fact from fiction in the digital age. The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, meanwhile, takes a similar approach to the building of digital literacy and news demystification. The ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and participate with media in all its forms serve as a strategy of resistance in a post-truth world. The prioritization of civic intentionality and the cultivation of critical thinking skills are at the core of these projects, making young people realize their role as active (not passive) users of news media.  

While the work of the News Literacy Project and The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change advances media literacy in the young, older media users require similar educational support. Cyber Seniors, a program in Toronto, is a useful trailblazer in this regard, tackling the divide in media literacy needs among youth and seniors through an intergenerational program. As participants noted in the Q&A session at the symposium’s conclusion, if the promotion of media consciousness forms the core of our mission moving forward, how do “older” media users exercise their civic freedoms? As Americans approach the 2020 election, we must work to cultivate an ethos of media consciousness, giving both young and old active roles in steering new negotiated news media narratives. 

Nicola Mann is an associate professor of visual cultures and communications at Richmond, the American International University in London, UK. She is a Fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar, most recently attending the program The Changing Role of the Media in American Life and Culture,of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA) in September 2019. Mann wrote the report for the program, available here: 

The Life and Times of a News Bureau Chief in Washington
Elisabeth Bumiller speaking at the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA)Elisabeth Bumiller speaking at the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA)
The Life and Times of a News Bureau Chief in Washington
By: Mirabelle Morah and Oscar Tollast 

Elisabeth Bumiller, Washington bureau chief at the New York Times, discusses her career in journalism and day-to-day work

In her role as the New York Times’ Washington bureau chief, Elisabeth Bumiller’s day can start as early as five o’clock in the morning. The news never sleeps, and there are always overnight events for her to catch up on. By nine o’clock, Bumiller is in the office preparing for the morning news meeting. She joins her colleagues in New York via video link and outlines the bureau’s plans for the day. Forty-five minutes or so later, the meeting reaches a conclusion – for now. Following many questions and intense conversations, Bumiller has a firmer idea of what her day ahead may look like – well, at least as much as is possible in the life of a journalist at a major national news outlet.

As stories come in, reporters begin to file them. Some articles are put online before noon to catch the morning traffic. Bumiller may attend another small editors’ meeting about previously discussed topics, or she may go out for a working lunch with a colleague. By half-past two, she’s in touch with New York again. “I start getting calls from New York, or I call them saying here’s what we think is good for the front page… I’ll say, ‘This story is looking good,’ ‘This one’s not ready yet, but you should think about it,’ ‘This one is not going to work,’ ‘We’re holding this.’”

Bumiller will then start asking reporters for the tops of their stories. “I can’t pitch the story if I don’t know what you’re going to say. That’s a constant stress,” she said. By half-past four, there’s a bit more clarity. By then, barring any breaking news, staff know what will be on tomorrow’s front page, what stories matter for the web and which stories will need to be cared for overnight. 

“Between five and eight stories are coming in, and I don’t edit as much as I used to… but I often will just grab a story because we’re shorthanded or if there’s a story I want to edit…” explains Bumiller. “I usually leave sometime around 7.30 or 8 [pm]. That’s my day.” 

Life-long dream

Bumiller always wanted to write. Her uncle, Frank Cormier, a White House reporter for the Associated Press, appeared to have a “very exciting life.” That is what inspired Bumiller to pursue journalism, starting with her high school newspaper, the Walnut Hills Chatterbox. She then attended the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University – where she got her “real education” working for the Daily Northwestern. Her education continued thereafter at the Miami Herald and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. 

Upon leaving Columbia, she received a message to call Sally Quinn, a writer for the Washington Post’s style section. Would Bumiller be interested in covering events in Washington? “I ended up flying down to Washington right before I graduated, and I got the job,” Bumiller remembers. “My classmates all said… they wouldn’t have taken that frivolous job but, at the time, the Washington Post was the most exciting paper on the face of the earth.”

Bumiller joined the newspaper a few years after the Watergate scandal. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who did much of the original reporting on the scandal for the Post, were still in the newsroom. In her role, Bumiller covered events such as political fundraisers on Capitol Hill and parties at the State Department, but she was also able to write feature stories and profiles. She said, “I made it into a better a job.”

The role gave her a greater education on politics in the US capital. “The style section was really well-read… It was a great job. It was high pressure, actually… The idea was I wasn’t going to cover what people were wearing, I was covering what they were saying about politics and the news of the day.”

After stints in New Delhi, India and Tokyo, Japan (accompanying her husband, New York Times journalist Steven R. Weisman), where she continued to write for the Post as well as two books about the lives of women in each country, Bumiller joined the Times in 1995 as a metro reporter. She was later promoted to City Hall bureau chief before returning to the US capital as a White House correspondent on September 10, 2001. The next day’s infamous events dramatically changed the trajectory of her reporting from a domestic focus to an increasingly international one.

In her current role as Washington bureau chief, her primary responsibility concerns overseeing daily operations and leading all news coverage from Washington, domestic and international. Her breadth of experience in the media industry made her an appropriate choice of speaker for the latest symposium of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association – The Changing Role of the Media in American Life and Culture: Emerging Trends.

“This seminar is fascinating because I am very interested in the perspective of people from around the world on media and journalism,” said Bumiller. “I was fascinated by the question from the gentleman… who asked why we [the media] couldn’t just join with the government. Oh dear, that’s not going to work in the United States!... 

“I was also interested in the question from someone who kept asking me, ‘Why don’t you feel pressure from the administration? Don’t you feel pressure from the White House and Trump?’…I kept on saying, ‘No’… I realized she didn’t necessarily believe me, but it’s just not a factor in the United States – at least not for my publication.”

Mistakes can happen in reporting, but Bumiller maintains the Times is a “very competitive place” with “really smart people” who believe in independent journalism and getting at the truth. “It’s also just been the privilege of a lifetime,” says Bumiller. “I’ve travelled a lot for the Times. I’m now working with people on their stories and on their careers… It’s a constant invigorating education, and I really do mean it’s a privilege.”  

The Changing Role of the Media in American Life and Culture: Emerging Trends features as part of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA) multi-year series. You can capture highlights on social media using the hashtag #SSASA.

The Art of Dialogue and International Exchange
Jing Xu at Salzburg Global SeminarJing Xu at Salzburg Global Seminar
The Art of Dialogue and International Exchange
By: Mirabelle Morah and Oscar Tollast 

Vice director of the Communication and Culture Research Center at Peking University, Jing Xu, reflects on learning about China and other countries around the world

“When I was a student, I met a very good professor… In her classroom, she told us that if you want to do some research, the first thing you’ll need to do is [learn] where China was, where China is, [and] where China will be.” said Jing Xu, speaking at the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA). “I need to know more about China.”

Why would someone wanting to learn about China come to an American Studies symposium? Xu is the vice director of the Communication and Culture Research Center and a professor at the School of Journalism at Peking University, in China, and the latest SSASA symposium was titled The Changing Role of the Media in American Life and Culture: Emerging Trends.

For Xu, learning about other countries and other cultures is just as important as learning more about China. She has spent more than 34 years at Peking University, first arriving as an undergraduate student. She earned a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. at the School of International Studies before transferring to the School of Journalism & Communication. Much of her research has focused on Chinese media, politics, public opinion, media governance, and health communication.

In Salzburg, Xu was able to provide a unique perspective as the sole participant from China. But she could also reflect on her experiences in Japan, the UK, Sweden, Hong Kong, Belgium, and Italy. Xu is a firm believer in international exchange, having founded the Europe-China Dialogue in Media and Communications Summer School in 2013.

The program is now in its seventh year, having held its latest meeting in Beijing, China in July 2019. It aims to provide a platform linking scholars from Europe and China to foster the generation of new ideas for a better global communication exchange. Xu says they want to broaden students’ perspectives.

At the program, both professors and students present their own research. “After the presentation, professors – one Chinese professor [and] another European professor – will give [the students] comments to tell them how to modify, how to craft their thesis. That’s very helpful. We call it dialogue,” explains Xu.

“In some conferences, the students have a rare chance to get more feedback from professors – maybe several sentences. But in our… program each one will do [a] 15-minute presentation and get feedback from different professors. So, [it] almost lasts one hour.”

Xu says last year’s program received more than 60 proposals, more than double the number of places available. It was “the biggest success” for the program to date, according to Xu. Changes were made to the program as it sought to provide more theoretical and methodological guidance for Ph.D. students, with a greater focus on scientific training. Xu is clearly proud of how the program has progressed. “I feel happy. [This is] the first time that people hear my story about the summer school.”

Xu has attended a number of different international events in her career, including those where thousands of people come together. Events like this, however, make it difficult to have real dialogue, according to Xu. Thankfully, it is a different story in Salzburg.

“People are encouraged to speak, have different in-depth dialogue and conversation,” she explains. “So, that’s very, very interesting and [a] benefit for me… I also have a chance to put forward my ideas… To some extent, I’m timid. I don’t want to speak too much, but here, I feel more and more optimistic [and] confident with my English… I think when I say something, people are really interested in that.”

The Changing Role of the Media in American Life and Culture: Emerging Trends features as part of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA) multi-year series. You can capture highlights on social media using the hashtag #SSASA.

Using Film and Photos to Understand Complex Issues
Documentary Filmmaker Azza Cohen speaking at  Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA)Documentary Filmmaker Azza Cohen speaking at Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA)
Using Film and Photos to Understand Complex Issues
By: Mirabelle Morah and Oscar Tollast 

Documentary filmmaker Azza Cohen discusses the power of visual storytelling

“Journalism has really been rapidly evolving, and it’s exciting. I feel like this is an exciting time to be a visual storyteller,” said Azza Cohen, speaking at the latest symposium of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association, The Changing Role of the Media in American Life and Culture: Emerging Trends.

Cohen, a documentary filmmaker and historian, is dedicated to storytelling in the public’s service. At the time of interview in Salzburg, she was working on her first feature film, The Last Statesman. The film centers on the life of political negotiator George Mitchell, who helped negotiate peace in Northern Ireland with the Belfast Agreement a.k.a. the “Good Friday Agreement” in 1998, and his relationship with conflict negotiators in different countries. It is a film rooted in Cohen’s academic and visual interests, and one she hopes will “highlight positive examples of negotiation and examples of statesmanship which I think are really missing from our political conversation, definitely in America.”

“I’ve always felt – and I think especially after the 2016 [US] election – that young people don’t feel inspired by politicians and that young people don’t really see negotiation happening on a scale of the national conversation or international conversations. 

“I think particularly as a Jewish person, you learn about the conflict in the Middle East, and you learn about what’s happening in Israel and Palestine, and all you see is people talking past each other. You don’t really see attempts at genuine negotiation… You have to come to the table and then decide on what gets left behind or what is a priority,” said Cohen.

Cohen has worked in documentary filmmaking since graduating from the National University of Ireland in 2017, where she obtained a master’s degree in culture and colonialism, and history. Before this, she earned a bachelor’s degree in history at Princeton University in New Jersey, USA, where one of her undergraduate thesis projects involved producing a multimedia study of racial segregation in St. Louis, Mo., USA. “I think there are ways to blend… moving images, photography, and the written word, which can give you a fuller picture of a community or an issue,” she says. 

Cohen describes herself as a “big history nerd,” but it was only after attending Princeton that she encountered “how much of history informs we who are.” She said, “History is really amazing, and so many people don’t have access to understanding their own history… I think that movies and photography… can be a really great way to help people understand and be excited by history.”

Moving images can be really empowering, according to Cohen, but they can also be exploitative. She said, “It’s important that we have these discussions, especially related to this seminar… [about] the ways that media can be very harmful. I think we’ve thought about it in a lot of political sense and a lot of ways that… headlines are harmful, and memes are harmful. But I also think that moving images can be harmful, and in conversations about violence or representations of minors or children, I think there’s just a lot to think about.”

Cohen said the symposium in Salzburg continued to inspire her to consider how visual storytelling can look different – moving away from the traditional feature-length films shown at movie theaters and film festivals. 

Reflecting on her experience at Salzburg Global Seminar, she says, “What is so deeply meaningful to me is the way that this place was founded. That it was founded after World War II with an eye towards restoring the idea that you have to restore Europe through intellectual, cultural, political exchange and not just rebuilding the roads and fixing the buildings that were bombed. 

“I think that’s so incredibly profound.” 

She adds: “What we’re missing in politics, in academia [and] in so many things is this basic idea of civility and decency, and that exchanging ideas with people you don’t know and with people from different countries is the very foundation of how we live in a world that makes sense and treats people well… To be a part of that tradition that was started in 1947 is such an honor, honestly…

“I think this subject matter is particularly resonant [and] particularly timely… I just think it’s really important to constantly be thinking about the media and the effect of technology because we don’t have any other choice… I feel very much inspired and terrified about the state of things. But the only way that you can make yourself feel better is by doing something. So, you might as well be equipped and know from experts and be able to look at things sort of dispassionately and then act passionately.”

The Changing Role of the Media in American Life and Culture: Emerging Trends features as part of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA) multi-year series. You can capture highlights on social media using the hashtag #SSASA.

The Need for Critical Thinking and Co-operation
Pavel Koshkin at Salzburg Global SeminarPavel Koshkin at Salzburg Global Seminar
The Need for Critical Thinking and Co-operation
By: Mirabelle Morah and Oscar Tollast 

Russian research fellow Pavel Koshkin shares his perspective on US-Russia relations and how to curb fake news

To err is human, but journalists who make errors in today’s climate receive little sympathy. For some critics, an honest mistake can be a sign of a hidden agenda, or proof of “fake news” and a corrupt media. The reality is slightly different. Our decision-making is affected when we work under pressure, and it is no different for reporters, according to Russian journalist Pavel Koshkin. “You have an assignment from an editor... You have to write it [and] come up with a story for one hour. It should be analytical, in-depth. You have to interview a couple of people, two or three. It’s crazy, I think.”

Koshkin, a research fellow at the Institute for US and Canadian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Russia, has experience in this field. While working as a journalist, Koshkin covered topics related to US-Russia relations for several Russian media outlets, including RBC Daily, Russia Direct, Cyber World, and more. He currently contributes to

“Mistakes are not fake news, and to prevent these mistakes, I think all American newspapers and Russian ones should establish [a] good department of fact-checkers – a separate department. It’s a separate profession because a staff writer can write well, can interview well, can just collect information well, but there should be a fact-checker. It’s [a] top priority.” Koshkin spoke while attending the 17th symposium of theSalzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA), The Changing Role of the Media in American Life and Culture: Emerging Trends. As one would expect, “fake news” was a popular topic of discussion.

During the symposium, Koshkin took part in a panel discussion on the issue of fake news and the media. In Koshkin’s opinion, fake news is a “very important” problem that requires our attention. Fake news, he says, is “a deliberate attempt to spread falsehood(s), false information for the sake of manipulation, and this information is distributed by groups of interest by certain stakeholders. I don’t know who they are, but they pursue either political goals or corporate goals.

What fake news is not, however, is propaganda. “Fake news is not propaganda. It’s a part of propaganda. Propaganda is a broader term; it might use fake news to achieve its goals."

Koshkin developed his interest in the US as a junior in the journalism department at Moscow State University. He says, “I was crazy about American culture, movies, music, literature,” he remembers. “[I] attended a lot of lectures at the American Center in Moscow. They’re called ‘American Corners’ in Moscow. There is one in St. Petersburg, in Kazan, and I just attended every time they had lectures just to talk with native speakers.”

In 2010, as a result of the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program, Koshkin received a scholarship to attend the Tennessee Technology University for one year. His experience deepened his interest in the nation. “I was exposed to American life, ordinary life, culture. I had an opportunity to travel a lot around the United States,” he reminisces.  

As the years have gone by, Koshkin has further immersed himself in US-Russia relations. One of his primary goals now is to see how both countries can work together. Koshkin says, “I think with Russia, the US should be friends. I know it’s idealistic. I know it’s gullible today, but I don’t care whether it’s gullible or not. I believe it. This is me and nobody else… I really believe that the US and Russia should work together, or should minimize this distrust… We need people… who bring together two countries when their relations are in bad shape.”

Improving those relations would partly depend on improving understanding – and thus reducing fake news.

“We need to be mindful about the limits of [the] human brain: we have so much information that we are not able to process and, most importantly, understand. We live in abundance, but we are fed up with it. We have numerous sources of information on the Web, but we find ourselves lost in this ocean of data. Sometimes we even don’t know how to use it [in] a practical way.

“Paradoxically, the more we get, the less we know. It is a paradox, which sometimes makes us more vulnerable to manipulation and fake news.”

“What is to be done?” he asks. “We need to focus on critical thinking and sound skepticism (do not confuse [this] with nihilism), we need to be more painstaking and meticulous in nuances. The Devil is in the details.”

The Changing Role of the Media in American Life and Culture: Emerging Trends features as part of the Salzburg Seminar American Studies Association (SSASA) multi-year series. You can capture highlights on social media using the hashtag #SSASA.

Confronting Resistance and Change Through Poetry
A front view of the zine Sanja Grozdanic created with contributions from Detriot writers on the theme "My Last Day on Earth."A front view of the zine Sanja Grozdanic created with contributions from Detriot writers on the theme "My Last Day on Earth."
Confronting Resistance and Change Through Poetry
By: Soila Kenya 

Salzburg Global Fellow Sanja Grozdanic engages with Detroit creative scene through travel scholarship

Would your last day on earth be ecstasy or grief? Sanja Grozdanic, a writer and editor from Adelaide, Australia, traveled to Detroit in the United States to explore the theme “My Last Day on Earth.”

Through a scholarship from the Kresge Foundation, she met up with Maia Asshaq, both of whom attended the third program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2016.

Together, they organized a reading and poetry night on December 10, 2019, at the Room Project to provoke thoughts about the current socio-political anxieties in the world. “It encouraged writers to think about resistance as a daily practice – what we might take into the new decade, and what we must leave behind,” said Grozdanic.

During the evening, Detroit writers Scott Northrup and Cy Tulip performed original new works in response to the theme, along with performances from Grozdanic and Asshaq. Attendees were also invited to present their own contributions.

“It was a great turn out, ending with a beautiful durational performance by Cy Tulip,” said Grozdanic.

She added, “The Detroit artistic community was welcoming, open and receptive to the evening and theme.”

A zine that included several other responses on the theme was published by Grozdanic and made available for free during the event. On this accomplishment, she said, “I took the project much wider than I had originally planned, as I was very happy with the theme we chose. I am glad that a piece of the evening will continue to live on in this way.”

In the days following the event, the two Salzburg Global Fellows spent time exploring the creative scene in Detroit. “We went to a reading and screening at the Arab American Museum, where Maia also performed, to galleries, bookshops, and met with Leslie Perlman, who was one of the founders of the legendary Detroit Printing Co-op,” said Grozdanic.

Grozdanic is the co-founder of KRASS Journal, an independent arts and culture publication based in Adelaide but distributed internationally.

Based on the success of the event, she looks forward to bringing similar events to other cities. “When I return to my YCI Hub of Adelaide, I would be thrilled to host a poetry night on the same theme, with the zines available as well.”

She added, “I hope Maia and myself will continue to collaborate on projects large and small. I am aiming to re-print the publication I created for the event, for posterity, and because the work was of such a stellar standard.”

For Grozdanic, her participation in the YCI Travel Scheme provided the opportunity to connect with the Detroit creative community. “I was humbled and inspired by the ingenuity and experimentation I witnessed in Detroit. I have been reflecting on this since my return to Berlin.”

The Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators empowers rising talents in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. Launched in 2014, it is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected changemakers in “hub” communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

Gayropa – Portraying the New Reality Shaped by LGBT Refugees in Europe
British photographer Bradley Secker is capturing the stories of LGBT refugees across Europe, including Noel Inglessias and Faris Cuchi Gezahegn from Ethiopia and now in Austria, in his series Gayropa.British photographer Bradley Secker is capturing the stories of LGBT refugees across Europe, including Noel Inglessias and Faris Cuchi Gezahegn from Ethiopia and now in Austria, in his series Gayropa.
Gayropa – Portraying the New Reality Shaped by LGBT Refugees in Europe
By: Klaus Mueller 

Photojournalist Bradley Secker discusses his work documenting the lives of LGBT refugees in Europe

British photojournalist Bradley Secker has been working in Istanbul, Turkey and across the region for more than ten years. One of his long-term projects is a photo-led documentation of queer migration and asylum across Europe, documenting not only the difficult process of finding asylum, but also the new lives LGBT refugees build for themselves in Europe. Some of the refugees he works with are also fellows of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum.

Klaus Mueller, Chair & Founder of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum met with Secker to talk about the growing recognition for Bradley’s work, his project Gayropa in which he profiles the vastly different personal stories he captures by photo and text, and his future plans.  

Bradley, how did you come up with the title Gayropa for your new project?

“Gayropa” is a word often used by Russian authorities to refer to Europe, in a derogatory sense. By adopting the term for my project, I want to make a statement: Yes, Europe is indeed a place where LGBT people can live openly, even though it is not perfect and discrimination still exists. I want to reframe the term: Gayropa is a place where LGBT people can form their own communities, and I want to show their lives and faces. This includes the entire spectrum of LGBTI or non-binary people, and how someone defines themselves.

It is also personal for me. The stories I hear and the things I see do affect me. Collecting their stories takes time and I try to show how different refugees arrive and cope with their new environment, also of course depending on the country where they are. I am very impressed with how LGBT refugees I meet are dealing with the daily challenges of creating a life for themselves in a new country with a sense of purpose and, despite everything, joy.

In general, being LGBT often means that one has to migrate, from one small place to a bigger city, or escaping one’s country for safety reasons. I myself come from a small, dull and unwelcoming place where I was the “only gay in the village.”

After a first trip to Syria, you went back in 2010 with a focus on the situation for gay Iraqi men who had to flee from Iraq. Since your move to Turkey in 2011, you documented the story of Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian LGBT refugees. There was no editorial interest at that time. Now recognition and support seems to be growing. Can you explain?

I think the focus on LGBT human rights has become more international and because of huge numbers of refugees arriving in Europe since 2015, there is a wider interest by the public and also publishers. Social media has changed a lot, people can tell their own stories and form communities online, then bring them into actual physical spaces. It is helpful for my work as I can reach people more easily: networks are much larger than they used to be. On my first trip to Syria, it took me three months to connect. Now I can set it up remotely already through the net. My work on queer migration receives funding from the Pulitzer Center and other organizations, and also more recognition from LGBT networks like the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum.  

You also work with Fellows you met at sessions of the Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum , for example with Faris Cuchi Gezahegn who is a refugee from Ethiopia. Can you share how you approach people you want to profile? How do you work?

For Gayropa, it’s a mixture of people I worked with in the past, or people I contact through friends and friends of friends, or social media. I want to cover as many countries in Europe as possible, and each refugee gives a glimpse into that country.

I met Faris – who identifies as a non-binary person and is using they/them as a personal pronoun – at the Salzburg Global LGBT Forum [in 2015]. Faris comes from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and now lives in Vienna. Faris was forced to seek political asylum in Austria after attending a program in Salzburg. The offices of their LGBT group in Ethiopia had been attacked, and their security became worse and worse. Faris was granted asylum in Austria in July 2017.

So we hooked up, and I visit Faris several times during a year whenever something really relevant happens. Only with time one can build a relationship that allows me to portray a person, their house, friends, and work. I give myself a whole year to complete the Gayropa project, and maybe I need to add more time.

When I first met Faris at the Forum, our relationship was one of activists. I presented my project later and we have been in a lot of conversations about the project, online and in Vienna, to explore comfort levels.  

How do you share your work?

Gayropa is soon to be a standalone website documenting stories of LGBTIQ migration around Europe (, and already an Instagram page. I work also with various outlets like or Buzzfeed News. I hope to reach politicians and in general people who never met LGBT refugees and introduce them to the different lives of LGBT refugees. And of course our LGBT community and refugee communities.

I hope that the LGBT refugees are happy with how I capture their stories.

I’m not a big believer that photojournalism can change the world. I don’t think it’s that profound. Purely and simply I think the work I’m doing will just illustrate and educate people.

But together, as a more cohesive body of work, I hope it would stand as a documentation of queer newcomers to Europe for this period that I’m covering it.

Bradley Secker was a participant at the fifth annual Salzburg Global LGBT* Forum – Home: Safety, Wellness and Belonging.

* LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. We are using this term as it is currently widely used in human rights conversations on sexual orientation and gender identity in many parts of the world, but we would not wish it to be read as exclusive of other cultural concepts, contemporary or historical, to express sexuality and gender, intersex and gender non-conforming identities.

Remembering Paul A. Volcker
Paul A. Volcker at Schloss Leopoldskron in 2013. Photo: Thomas Seifert
Remembering Paul A. Volcker
By: Louise Hallman & Oscar Tollast 

“Giant of public service” and multi-time Salzburg Global Fellow died in December, aged 92

Paul A. Volcker, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve died on December 8, 2019. He was 92.

A multi-time Salzburg Global Fellow since 2002 when he attended The Euro: Implications for Europe, Implications for the World, the economist last visited Schloss Leopoldskron in 2013 in an early step of what he called a “new journey”: the launch of his legacy-defining Volcker Alliance, founded that same year.

Through the establishment of the institute, the long-serving public servant sought to reaffirm the six-word aphorism of Thomas Edison: “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

Volcker did not lack vision nor execution. In an obituary in the New York Times, Volcker was noted as having “helped shape American economic policy for decades.” US President Jimmy Carter, who appointed Volcker as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in 1979, said Volcker’s “economic acumen made him a giant of public service”. President Barack Obama, who appointed Volcker to serve Chair of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board amidst the 2007-08 financial crisis, added: “I’ll remember Paul for his consummate wisdom, untethered honesty, and a level of dignity that matched his towering stature.” Fellow Salzburg Global Fellow and current chair of the US Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell said: “His contributions to the nation left a lasting legacy.”

Outside of the worlds of finance, banking and the economy where he held many leadership roles, Volcker also headed the Independent Committee of Eminent Persons, formed by Swiss and Jewish organizations to investigate deposit accounts and other assets in Swiss banks of victims of Nazi persecution and to arrange for their disposition. President Bill Clinton highlighted this work in his tribute: “We should all be grateful for the legacy he left as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, his work with President Obama to avert depression, and his leadership in obtaining overdue financial justice for the families of Holocaust victims.”

The Volcker Alliance, led since 2016 by Salzburg Global Fellow Thomas W. Ross, stated in a tribute: “The Volcker Alliance mourns the loss of our founder, Paul A. Volcker. He has entrusted us to carry forth his legacy through our work of the Volcker Alliance and we will do our best to carry out his vision.”

In memory of his nearly two-decade-long association with Salzburg Global and his almost 60-year-long career as a tireless public servant, below we share his last interview he gave to Salzburg Global in 2013 when chairing the program, Restoring the Public’s Trust: Delivering on Public Policy Goals.

Paul Volcker: “It’s a Crisis of Governance at This Point”

Chairman of The Volcker Alliance looks back on four-day session

Sitting on the Schloss Leopoldskron’s sun-drenched terrace, Paul Volcker, Chairman of The Volcker Alliance, is left feeling encouraged after leading a three-day session on Restoring the Public’s Trust: Delivering on Public Policy Goals.

“We’re starting out on a new journey with this little institute,” says Volcker. “We had a lot of people who I think are happy to be here and felt they learned something from each other, and we learned something from them.”

Those invited to the session included politicians, senior public servants, researchers, academics, and corporate and public sector representatives. The group’s aim was to consider new ways of thinking to improve effectiveness in public policy execution. The Volcker Alliance was keen to hear what part it could play, alongside other organizations.

Volcker says, “Once a goal is decided, it doesn’t mean much unless you’ve got ways of implementing the goal.”

The Alliance’s mission is to focus on the need for governments to run effectively and efficiently. This in turn might help to rebuild public confidence and trust, something which Volcker suggests is not as strong as once was.

“One of the contributing factors is – and I’m not saying it’s the major contributing factor – but a contributing factor is the perception that government has failed to deal with certain circumstances and crises effectively.

“I think it’s a crisis of governance at this point. But when does a crisis of governance become a crisis of democracy? If people lose faith in the democratic process, we’re all in trouble.”

The session on Restoring the Public’s Trust: Delivering on Public Policy Goals was convened in conjunction with Salzburg Global Seminar. Opening the program, Volcker said: “We see our role as a catalyst, able to bring to bear new and existing resources, to help generate new analysis and new research with the help of today’s technology, and to sponsor cooperative programs - all to facilitate, in Edison’s word, ‘execution’ of public policies.

“To be a bit dramatic, I think of this [session] as a call to arms. It is a rare opportunity to exchange views, to learn from each other in the United States and elsewhere, to assess priorities, to gauge the extent of our common interests, and maybe in some instances to work as partners.”

It’s the fourth time Volcker has visited the palace, having more recently chaired a discussion on Financial Regulation: Bridging Global Differences at Salzburg Global in August 2012. Is it fair to argue he likes the location?

“Do I like Salzburg? Salzburg is a terrific place. Look at the beautiful garden, the facilities are wonderful, the view is better, [and] the intellectual stimulation is first-class.”

Participants spent their second day in Salzburg considering some of the major challenges facing governments around the world, hearing from speakers such as Angel Gurría, Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), political scientist Francis Fukuyama, Sir Michael Barber, founder of the British Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, and Susan L. Marquis, vice president of Emerging Policy Research and Methods for the RAND Corporation.

After splitting into smaller working groups, participants stepped forward the following day to propose specific areas The Volcker Alliance, and similar organizations, could step into and address.

Complexities and problems raised in discussions began to be represented as new opportunities. But Volcker reveals they needed to be tackled in a way that “takes account of the resources that we have, the understanding that we have, the education that we need so that it makes some contribution toward some sense of trust and confidence in government.”

Volcker recognizes there is no “magic solution” and remedying these problems will take time, but that’s no reason to be pessimistic. “We haven’t got the candle quite lit yet; we’ve got the match approaching the candle to light it. This is part of the match.”

Paul A. Volcker was a Fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar, attending The Euro: Implications for Europe, Implications for the World in 2002, and chairing the programs, Sovereign Wealth Funds: Risks and Opportunities for Global Financial Markets (2008), Financial Regulation: Bridging Global Differences (2012) and Restoring the Public's Trust: Delivering on Public Policy Goals (2013).

Salzburg Global Seminar Says Goodbye to Bailey Morris-Eck
Bailey Morris-Eck first joined the board of Salzburg Global Seminar in 1992. A luncheon was held in her honor in November, just two days before she passed away.
Salzburg Global Seminar Says Goodbye to Bailey Morris-Eck
By: Salzburg Global Seminar 

Long-time director succumbs to leukemia at age 77

The Salzburg Global community mourns the passing of Bailey Morris-Eck, who died on November 24, 2019. She helped shape Salzburg Global’s policies and programs over three decades, recruiting faculty, Fellows, partners and directors from her seemingly inexhaustible world of friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

Two days before she succumbed to a long battle with leukemia, Salzburg Global’s Board of Directors honored Bailey at a luncheon at the Sulgrave Club in Washington, DC. Long-time friends and fellow directors Tom Mansbach, Adena Testa and Peter Wilson-Smith spoke at the luncheon about her role in involving them in Salzburg Global’s work, and her ability to bring people from diverse perspectives together to tackle the world’s toughest problems. 
Salzburg Global President Stephen Salyer presented Bailey with a book and CD of
distinguished lectures given with her support since 2004, the first by Bill Emmott, then editor of The Economist. Bailey spoke twice during the luncheon to thank her Salzburg Global family and to express her devotion to the many lives, institutions and policies influenced by the organization’s work.

Long service

Bailey Morris-Eck first joined the Board of Salzburg Global Seminar in 1992. In addition to the lecture series on International Media, Economics, and Trade that she endowed, she was also an active recruiter of Fellows, faculty and board members, drawing on her long career in the media and public policy. Bailey played an active role in encouraging and supporting numerous Salzburg Global programs, including the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change (launched in 2007) and Salzburg Global Seminar’s Cutler Center for the Rule of Law in Washington (co-chairing its advisory board from its inception in 2010). 
Bailey began her career in journalism, serving as US economics correspondent for both The Independent (London) and The Times of London and as senior correspondent for London Financial News. She was later an appointed commissioner of Maryland Public Television and founded the International Women’s Media Foundation in 1990, with the mission to “unleash the potential of women journalists as champions of press freedom to transform the global news media.”
She later moved into public policy, serving in two White House Administrations, Presidents Carter and Clinton, the latter as senior advisor to the Counselor to the President with primary focus on trade policy. She also served as vice president of the Brookings Institution, as senior associate in charge of the global public policy initiative of the Reuters Foundation and as a fellow and editor of the policy journal of the Institute of International Economics (now the Peterson Institute). 
Active on the boards of many diverse organizations in addition to Salzburg Global Seminar, she was also a trustee of the American Funds complex of mutual funds, the Walters Art Museum and WYPR, a US regional public radio network. She was also a member of the editorial board of the German Marshall Fund, an editorial advisor to the European Institute and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Great enthusiasm

An obituary published in the Washington Post describes Bailey as someone who lived life like she was on a deadline. It adds, “Bailey’s career was important to her, but people were more important. She gathered communities wherever she went. For decades she brought people together at her dinner table, whether they were new to the country, the neighborhood or the job. She will be remembered for her laughter, her hospitality, her enthusiastic dancing and her relentless optimism.”
Tom Mansbach, a friend of Bailey’s for many decades, who co-chaired with her the Cutler Center for the Rule of Law, remembers her as “an incredible life force whose focus on family, friends and ideas molded her vision of a life well spent. People were the center of her world, and to be on the ‘Bailey Team’ meant a life of caring support, great conversation and unparalleled hospitality. A daughter of Baltimore, her charming approach to life eased all she knew through it as though it were a salon dealing with the most important issues facing the world. 

“Bailey always had her finger on the tempo of the day; she knew on which issues to focus, how to approach them and with whom to ally herself – always highly capable colleagues who could assure that her ideas would carry the day. That was not a heavy task as her ideas were always insightful, creative and forward-looking. There was no issue in which she took an interest that was not significantly improved by her attention to detail and elegant leadership.

“Throughout her life, she championed the important roles which women and young people play in crafting fresh ideas, making more relevant to today's world the societal structures and policies left to them by their predecessors.”

Adena Testa, who worked with Bailey on numerous projects in the Baltimore region before joining her on the Salzburg Global board, added: “Bailey loved life... She cared deeply about the world around her. Her enthusiasm drew her friends to her and to the projects for which she worked tirelessly. She was also very determined. Saying ‘no’ to Bailey was almost impossible. These qualities showed in everything Bailey did, including her passionate involvement with Salzburg Global Seminar. In fact, she embodied the values and spirit of Salzburg. Bailey understood that working together people can make our world a better place… Bailey was a dear friend who had a profound influence on me. Her warmth, integrity, passion and love for those around her have inspired me, in fact changed me. She is my role model as I try to walk in her very large shoes.”
Peter Wilson-Smith, also a fellow Salzburg Global Director who knew her as a fellow journalist, said: “Bailey was a wonderful colleague and a dear friend who you could always rely on as a superb source of advice, not to mention great fun. Her insight, good judgement and charm meant she was very effective in making things happen.” 
Stephen Salyer, Salzburg Global President, added: “Bailey is irreplaceable, but her spirit will live on at Salzburg Global. She set the bar very high for big ideas and for people able to imagine a better world. Her eye for talent brought a steady stream of rising young leaders to our programs, and her influence will live on through their witness and contributions.”

Lasting tribute

In light of Bailey’s enormous contributions to Salzburg Global and the warmth with which she is remembered, a group of friends and admirers undertook to raise an endowment fund to ensure that the Bailey Morris-Eck Lecture is given annually and in perpetuity. The fund drive has been enormously successful, allowing its remit to be broadened to include short-term residencies by journalists from around the world. 
Friends and supporters of Bailey are welcomed to help continue her legacy at Salzburg Global Seminar by contributing the fund for the Bailey Morris-Eck Lectureship:  

Learning Endures: Creating Educational and Workforce Opportunities for Migrant Students
Learning Endures: Creating Educational and Workforce Opportunities for Migrant Students
By: Michael Nettles,Senior Vice President, ETS 

Salzburg Global program partner, ETS highlights its work in celebration of International Migrants Day

This blog was originally publised on the ETS blog for International Migrants Day on December 18. QFI are partner of Salzburg Global Seminar and our Education for Tomorrow's World series.

“Migration is a powerful driver of economic growth, dynamism and understanding. It allows millions of people to seek new opportunities, benefiting communities of origin and destination alike.”      — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

Secretary-General Guterres is correct. I recently co-chaired the Salzburg Global Seminar program, Education and Workforce Opportunities for Refugees and Migrants. It provided me with an opportunity to reflect on his insight and on the role of education in improving the health, welfare, economic opportunities and quality of life of migrants around the world.

That is especially so with regard to the large and rising number of forcibly displaced people, who in addition to the hardship of relocation too often suffer the indignity of vilification and the despair of foreclosed opportunity, especially the opportunity to learn.

There are 272 million migrants in the world today, almost 20 percent more than in 2010, according to the United Nations. Among them are 38 million children. Statistics can be anesthetizing, but beneath every number is a solitary individual with a personal experience of life, unique aspirations and unbound potential. To unlock that potential, we know where to begin: education.

Education and training systems are the primary ways for young immigrants to acquire the language, workplace skills and cultural knowledge necessary for well-being and success in their new communities.

Effective acculturation is also important to their native-born peers. School is where native and immigrant students encounter one another most frequently, and where native students are likely to form long-lasting opinions about immigrants and foreign cultures.

To their credit, most nations committed themselves to effective integration of migrant students in the “New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants” of 2016, reaffirmed two years later in the “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.” As the Compact notes, education can help empower migrants and societies to achieve inclusion and social cohesion — and to prevent racism, xenophobia and intolerance.

It would be a tragedy not to live up to our own international conventions on the treatment of migrants. As Secretary-General Guterres noted, doing so would shortchange both immigrants and host communities. It would also risk creating a new generation of the under-educated, the under-skilled and the stateless. That is a bill that always comes due.

Like everyone else on our shared planet, migrants are entitled to the best possible education. That is why initiatives promoting the portability of academic degrees and professional credentials are so important. An aspiring doctoral candidate with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, an accomplished scientist with hard-won expertise, an experienced educator with a talent for conveying knowledge — all have too much to offer their new communities to be relegated to menial work that deprives society of their skills and knowledge.

We are guaranteed very little in life. We can lose our jobs, our money and our homes. But we can never lose what we have learned, nor the dignity that comes with learning.

At ETS, we are constantly thinking about the contributions that assessment can make to improving education and society, to unlocking human potential and to opening doors. Our mission, in fact, is to advance quality and equity in education for learners worldwide regardless of their wealth, power, background or circumstances, whether native born or migrant.

The Salzburg Global Seminar program, Education and Workforce Opportunities for Refugees and Migrants, was part of the Education for Tomorrow’s World multi-year series. The program was held in partnership with ETSMicrosoftQatar Foundation InternationalPorticus, and the LEGO Foundation.

Language, Culture and Connected Communities: Supporting and Empowering Displaced and Vulnerable Populations
Photo: Qatar Foundation International on Facebook
Language, Culture and Connected Communities: Supporting and Empowering Displaced and Vulnerable Populations
By: Carine Allaf, Senior Programs Advisor, QFI 

Salzburg Global program partner, Qatar Foundation International highlights its three pillars in celebration of International Migrants Day

This blog was originally publised on the Qatar Foundation International blog. QFI are partner of Salzburg Global Seminar and our Education for Tomorrow's World series.

Hundreds of people around the globe are on the move, some by choice and others due to violence or unsustainable conditions in their home countries or regions. Qatar Foundation International (QFI) works in and with primary and secondary public/state-funded schools across the Americas, the United Kingdom, and Germany. In every classroom and with every group of students and educators we work with, issues related to migration and displacement are unavoidable. 

Founded in 2009, QFI focuses on student-centered learning environments that foster a deeper understanding of the Arab world through the teaching of Arabic language and about the region’s societies and cultures. We partner with primary and secondary schools, universities, multilateral entities, and other philanthropic organizations to ensure that our programs advance students’ global competency and acquisition of 21st-century skills. With the ongoing increase in the movement of peoples globally, students and educators require more nuanced views of other peoples and cultures, as well as connections with peers in other locations that offer a deeper and more meaningful understanding beyond news headlines and sound bites. As such, QFI works in three main program areas: we focus on learning a language (Arabic Language), studying about another part of the world (Arab Societies and Cultures), and bringing together students, academics, practitioners, and others in-person and virtually to learn about each other and to share strategies and common successes and challenges related to our work in these areas (Connected Communities). 

Today, as we celebrate International Migrants Day, in addition to UN Arabic Language Day and Qatar National Day, it is important to reflect on QFI’s work in today’s society and how the work we do with our students and educators globally is more relevant and critical today than ever before. With migration and displacement only increasing, the importance of learning about the other – be it via learning a new language or learning about a new part of the world – in-person or virtually serves the vital purpose of normalizing differences and highlighting similarities among people in an increasingly divided world. 

In December, QFI partnered with Salzburg Global Seminar on the program titled Education and Workforce Opportunities for Refugees and Migrants, along with ETS, Microsoft, Porticus, and the Lego Foundation. Illustrative of our work under the Connected Communities program area, Salzburg Global Seminar gathers like-minded scholars and practitioners on topics QFI cares about and allows them time to share about their work, learn about others’ work, and debate and discuss issues of relevance. QFI’s partnership with Salzburg Global Seminar, now in its fourth year, facilitated the attendance of nine of the 66 Fellows to this year’s program, including representatives from NaTakallam (an organization you will read more about below) and Give Something Back to Berlin whose work is driven by the need for integrating migrants and refugees with the host community via music and cultural workshops in addition to language classes.

Because of the topic of refugees and migrants of the Salzburg Global Seminar program and in celebration of International Migrants Day on December 18, we can spotlight QFI’s three program areas and how the work QFI does is critical to raising awareness of migrant rights and to recognizing the contributions made by millions of migrants and displaced people to the economies of their host and home countries.
First, in all of our Arabic language classrooms there is a clear mix of students from Arabic-speaking families and those who are learning Arabic as a foreign language. In fact, the majority of our students are actually those interested in learning Arabic as a foreign language. When asked why students are choosing Arabic, we get a variety of answers from being interested in that part of the world, to wanting to use Arabic when they enter the work force, to its complexity and different alphabet felt like a challenge that they were intrigued by. And we hear stories of students who have used their knowledge of Arabic to make someone else in their community who is an Arabic speaker feel more at ease. Language learning, after all, is a window into the ‘other’ and allows learners of Arabic to see Arabic-speaking migrants and refugees as their own counterparts. NaTakallam is one of our partners that links displaced people with students using accessible technology platforms such as Zoom or Skype. NaTakallam locates displaced persons and trains them to become Conversation Partners, and compensates them for their time, and then allows school groups or individual students to sign up for either language or cultural awareness lessons. Primary students in New York City were able to speak to a Syrian refugee currently residing in Iraq to discuss their journey; or secondary students learning Arabic in Missoula, MT practiced their Arabic with a Syrian refugee living in Italy. Without students needing to leave their own communities, NaTakallam facilitates these exchanges and empowers displaced people to share their own narrative.

Second, under our ASC program, we run the Teacher Leadership Program (TLP) whose goal is to train a cohort of educators who have a strong understanding of various issues related to the Arab world to equip them to not only teach about the Arab world in their classrooms, but  also to work with other teachers to help bring this increased level of understanding to their classrooms. The TLP focuses on current events including migration and displacement from and in the region. The push-pull factors, concepts as to what causes migration and displacement, what the different types of migration are, and the impacts of migration are on the country they leave from and the country they go to are all discussed in detail. The first cohort of 20 teachers hailed from 15 states and as a result of their training 14 teachers had presentations accepted at the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS) conference. This tripled the presence of presentations on the Arab world at NCSS over the last few years. Teachers from this cohort are also presenting at the Progressive Education Network Conference, the National Council for Teachers of English Conference, the National Council for History Education in addition to state social studies conferences including in Wisconsin and Colorado. The next cohort of 15 teachers from 11 different states will begin in 2020.

Lastly, under our Connected Communities area of work, we undertake research on issues that are important to our community. Starting a few years ago, QFI began being approached by public schools on how to best welcome and work with the influx of Arabic-speaking students arriving from conflict-affected countries. In partnership with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, QFI designed and implemented the Study of Adolescent Lives After Migration to America (SALAMA) that looked at the mental health and psychosocial well-being of Arabic-speaking high school students (aged 13 years old and older). Findings that emerged from one public high school in Harrisonburg, VA and from two public high schools in Austin, TX included: adjustment challenges mainly related to learning English; how community and school supports were immensely important and useful in addressing trauma, learning about new structures and systems, and feeling welcomed and part of a great community; the stressors families placed on their own children to on the one hand integrate and do well, and on the other hand to not lose their own cultural and religious identity; and although peer support was not formally institutionalized in schools, students saw peer mentors as vital to their acclimation. Data collection is continuing in the Detroit Metropolitan area in Michigan and in Chicago, Illinois and findings across all these sites will not only help improve practices of including students from these backgrounds into public schools but also shed light on good practices taking place that are critical for public investment and on-going support.

As we enter the next decade of our work, QFI remains committed to these three program areas that allow us to continually challenge ourselves to hearing many perspectives, supporting and empowering displaced and vulnerable populations, and bringing high quality educational resources and voices to classrooms around the world. 

The Salzburg Global Seminar program, Education and Workforce Opportunities for Refugees and Migrants, was part of the Education for Tomorrow’s Worldmulti-year series. The program was held in partnership with ETS, Microsoft, Qatar Foundation International, Porticus, and the LEGO Foundation.

New Journalisms: Rethinking Practice, Theory and Pedagogy
Karen Fowler-Watt at the Max Reinhardt LibraryKaren Fowler-Watt at the Max Reinhardt Library
New Journalisms: Rethinking Practice, Theory and Pedagogy
By: Mirabelle Morah 

Karen Fowler-Watt shares insight on new book, which comprises of contributions from the Salzburg Media Academy faculty

In an era of fake news, distrust and further uncertainties on the power of journalism and the role of the media, British academics Karen Fowler-Watt and Stephen Jukes have emerged with a new book, titled New Journalisms: Rethinking Practice, Theory and Pedagogy.

Edited by Fowler-Watt and Jukes, New Journalisms explores a series of key themes, from the new challenges involved in defining the term “new journalisms,” to how a re-imagination of journalism education can lead to improving pedagogies, and how new journalism practices can be formed, offering new ways of telling human stories.

The edited collection brings together leading academics, journalists and emerging researchers as its contributors, many of whom are part of the faculty of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. Launched in 2007, the Salzburg Academy now counts nearly 1000 alumni in its ranks from 70 countries around the globe, with 16 universities on five continents sending students to take part in 2019.

Karen Fowler-Watt is a senior principal academic at Bournemouth University in the UK, where she researches the need for journalism education at the university’s Center of Excellence in Media Practice. Speaking in an interview with Salzburg Global Seminar, Fowler-Watt shared more insight into the conceptualization of the book New Journalisms, as well as its content.

“The idea really came to my colleague, Stephen Jukes. He’s actually the reason that any of us came to Salzburg. He founded the partnership with Bournemouth University and the Academy [on Media and Global Change] when it was set up at the very beginning,” she disclosed.

“Both of us wanted to produce a book, which we wanted to be an edited volume, and wanted to put down some of the thoughts that we’d had, and we had been discussing with colleagues around reimagining journalism and rethinking journalism.”

The idea to produce a book on new journalisms, as Fowler-Watt explained, was immediately received with “huge energy.” The leading journalists and researchers with whom they discussed the idea had positive thoughts towards the subject matter and were eager to share their own knowledge in the book.

Speaking on the pluralization of journalisms, Fowler-Watt emphasizes that she sees the pluralization as important because New Journalisms does not only focus on the “new challenges facing journalism (in the singular), but also seeks to capture a range of new practices that are being employed across a diversity of media.”

One of the topics also covered in New Journalisms is the aspect of social media, which is playing an ever-greater role in the dissemination of information. Jukes and Fowler-Watt in New Journalisms highlight both the disruptive aspects of social media as well as the remarkable opportunities it provides, especially for citizen journalists, such as being able “to hear stories of normal life coming out of Syria,” Fowler-Watt recounted.

“This is not saying ‘professional journalism is the way ahead, forget citizen journalists’… We can be different types of journalists, and I think a key chapter is the ‘Global Voices’ one from Ivan Sigal who’s a Fellow of the Academy,” she said about the different types of journalism while referencing to the chapter on “Connecting publics through Global Voices.”

But further on social media usage, Fowler-Watt also has personal concerns about media literacy for a younger audience, especially with the outpouring of information and fake news on the internet.

“I think a concern I would say, is the inability or the lack of desire [for young people] to read further, and so a young person might feel that they’re very well-informed as they flick through their various news feeds.”

Information received via peers is more readily believed. However, Fowler-Watt has more concerns than disinformation and fake news. A more pertinent issue to her is “whether young people are reading in depth, are developing a critical awareness and a critically reflective approach to the media that they’re consuming,” Fowler explained.

New Journalismshas so far received positive reviews, and Fowler-Watt acknowledges Salzburg Global Seminar as a part of the success story for the book, calling the organization a “remarkable place,” while also being grateful to colleagues from the Salzburg Academy who contributed to the book, on various topics.

“Over a dozen years the Academy has driven a global movement for media literacy… and challenged scholars to rethink everything they thought they knew. Arising from this wind tunnel, New Journalisms offers thinking we desperately need to address information overload and manipulation,” Stephen Salyer, President and CEO of Salzburg Global Seminar said in his endorsement of the book.

The chapters contributed by faculty from the Academy include: “New journalisms, new challenges” by Stephen Jukes and Karen Fowler-Watt; “Journalists in search of identity” by Stephen Jukes; “Connecting publics through Global Voices” by Ivan Sigal; “Images: reported, remembered, invented, contested” by Susan D. Moeller; “New Journalisms, new pedagogies” by Karen Fowler-Watt; “Civic intentionality and transformative potential of journalism pedagogies” by Paul Mihailidis, Roman Gerodimos, and Megan Fromm; “Emergent narratives for times of crisis – ideas on documentary art and critical pedagogy” by Pablo Martinez-Zárate; “Genocide and the mediation of human rights: pedagogies for difficult stories” by Stephen Reese and Jad Melki.

“This is not the first book that has come out of the Academy,” Fowler-Watt said in a cheerful voice and with a smile on her face.

“For me personally, as a little autobiographical moment here, it’s been an incredibly important project because it has really encouraged me to reflect on so much. I have developed relationships with people whom I respect hugely, massively and admire incredibly. And I feel that we are a group of people who would support each other, trust each other, [and] listen carefully to each other,” she emphasized.

On her future hopes for New Journalisms, Fowler-Watt hopes that the book will be disseminated widely enough for lay people – non-academics and non-journalists – to easily pick up and think about its content. She also hopes that it would be integrated into the teaching curriculum and be a book that journalism practitioners will value.

“It’s written in very accessible prose,” she said.

“[And] I think there’s something for a lot of different people to take away from it. I really hope so.”

More information about the book, New Journalisms: Rethinking Practice, Theory and Pedagogy can be found here. The Salzburg Global Seminar program, The Cost of Disbelief: Fracturing Societies and the Erosion of Trust, is part of the multi-year Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. More information on this multi-year series is available here.

Responsible Innovation and Reaching a Dynamic Balance
Aaron Maniam at Salzburg Global SeminarAaron Maniam at Salzburg Global Seminar
Responsible Innovation and Reaching a Dynamic Balance
By: Salzburg Global Seminar 

Leading policymaker Aaron Maniam analyzes Singapore’s approach toward innovation and digitalization

“There’s a responsibility to the now… in terms of the current system and how it functions. There’s a responsibility to the future in terms of innovation, and there’s a responsibility to what could be better in terms of stewardship… I think we need to have all three of those in dynamic balance with each other,” reflects Aaron Maniam on the role of public officers. A founding head of the Centre for Strategic Futures at the Prime Minister’s Office in Singapore, he has occupied several important positions in his country’s public administration.

“I found that in order to represent Singapore well, I had to understand the whole of our governance system, our ports, our education, the financial services we’ve got, our manufacturing, and make sure that I could represent that well to a whole range of different people,” Maniam said.

Singapore, a small island city-state in Southeast Asia, gained independence in 1965 from Malaysia and has always been governed by the same political party, the People’s Action Party. The country went on to become one of the original Four Asian Tigers and has evolved into a highly developed market economy, supported by a public administration that seeks constant innovation.

Committed to continuing that modernization, Maniam attended the 2019 Annual Foresight Retreat of the Public Sector Strategy Network. While in Salzburg shared his recent experience working on the Smart Nation Program: “A really comprehensive way of taking on digital technology and seeing how it will affect the economy and businesses, society and citizens, as well as government itself…

“Those three prongs are what’s guiding our current transformation process. I would say it’s a situation where we will probably never arrive because the idea is that the minute you finish one set of transformations, there will be new tech out there that you need to adjust to.”

Technological improvements may be uneven in different areas of the state. However, he does not see this necessarily as a problem, since various agencies can present different requirements.

“What we’ve done is we’ve tried to make sure that digitization is meaningful to people in all the different agencies that they’re in… For some parts of the system, in the education system, for instance, using computers in schools, using apps for education might be really key for what they’re trying to do… Whereas if you’re at the foreign service, then actually a website that allows people to apply for visas, to report losses of passports might actually be sufficient…

“I think we are trying to leave it up to agencies to figure out what the best digitalization plan is for them, rather than force it down. But what we do do is give them broad guidelines, which is to say, ‘If you can use technology rather than manpower, do that. If you can move things from paper to digital, try and do that.’ And then, how they go about doing it is something that they actually work on themselves.”

The question arises on whether the replacement of humans by machines hurts the labor market. Is it easy to replace civil servants with robots and machines that can do their job better?

“Yes and no,” says Maniam. “We don’t think of it so much as a zero-sum game where if you bring in machines that people will definitely have to be replaced… We believe much more in augmentation, whereby when you bring a machine in, the mix of machines and humans generates new complex types of jobs that need to be done. The idea is that we move people to more complex jobs – kind of upgrade them rather than get rid of them.

“I’ve never seen any ministry that transforms digitally, where they’ve had to say ‘Okay, we’re gonna have to lay off people.’ They invariably find that they need more people than before, but the demands on those people are much, much greater… I think those who are willing can always be, will always be helped and supported to find ways for them to do new jobs…

“We’re kind of removing what I would call the 3D-type jobs – dirty, dangerous, and dreary… Routine-type jobs. We’re trying to eliminate those and make the jobs much more interesting, much more safe, and ones where there is actually value and skill in the individual’s role.”

But, as Maniam points out, improving the quality of public administration cannot rely on technological breakthroughs alone.

“High tech and high touch is really how we balance between both the technical and the human requirements of a government system. High tech means we need to use technology wherever possible to enable [us to] streamline and make more efficient the existing processes. High touch means we want to make sure that those processes are designed around actual citizen needs, and not just responding to what the bureaucrat thinks citizens might want. What that looks like is very different in different agencies.”

The Salzburg Global Seminar program, Agility for an Accelerating World: Can Governments Keep Up?, is part of the Public Sector Strategy Network. This program is supported by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, in partnership with Apolitical. Additional country and institutional partners include the Australian Government, the Government of Ireland, the Government of Canada's Impact and Innovation Unit, Civil Service College Singapore, and Nesta. More information on this network is available at the following link:

Shahidul Alam: “I Cannot Separate My Art from Politics”
Shahidul Alam speaks at the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change (Credit: Katrin Kerschbaumer/Salzburg Global Seminar)Shahidul Alam speaks at the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change (Credit: Katrin Kerschbaumer/Salzburg Global Seminar)
Shahidul Alam: “I Cannot Separate My Art from Politics”
By: Mirabelle Morah 

Bangladeshi photographer and social activist shares message on courage while delivering Bailey Morris-Eck Lecture at the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change

“And then what happened this other day was, this woman had a baby, and she came up to me and said ‘Can you bless my child? I want him to grow up as brave as you.’ It moved me,” shares Shahidul Alam, both bashful and proud.

The Bangladeshi photographer, writer and activist, Shahidul Alam, was at Salzburg Global Seminar to deliver the Bailey Morris-Eck keynote address at this year’s Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. He addressed the audience of budding journalists and media entrepreneurs on “Exposed Vulnerabilities: Learning to Trust.” Addressing students and university faculty from around the world, the award-winning photographer shared a powerful message that “giving up” was not a “luxury” anyone could afford, and that courage is contagious. When asked if he had an advice to give to his younger self, or if he had a word of encouragement to give to the younger generation of social activists and journalists, Alam responded by saying that there was no alternative to being “good at what you do.”

“You have to ensure that your presentation is right; it’s your job to ensure that you’re communicating correctly, [and] it’s your job to ensure that they make sure that everything is right for you.”

In 2018, Shahidul Alam was arrested during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, after which he was imprisoned for over 100 days and tortured for his involvement in social activism. He was eventually released on bail in November 2018, after many people around the world – including Nobel Laureates and many Salzburg Global Fellows – demanded for his freedom. During his address at the Academy, Alam said that “the biggest punishment” was to “take away a person’s freedom.”

Speaking to Salzburg Global in an interview after his lecture, the two-time Salzburg Global Fellow told of the importance of standing up to government and police repression.

“You have governments which come in for their own interest alone. And rather than serving the public, their task generally has been to squeeze as much out of the public resource, as they can for themselves.

“Similarly…” he continued, “the police is often used to serve the needs of the party in power. Forgetting that they are really answerable to the public.”

Adopting photography as a tool for social justice, Alam established Drik Picture Library in 1989 as a means of using “the power of the visual medium to educate, inform and draw powerful emotional responses to influence public opinion.” He believes that “building stronger institutions” is one answer to fighting against repressive governments, and that power “should never be concentrated on single individuals, but spread out.”

Many people have said to Shahidul Alam, “You’re an artist – why are you doing politics?”

But, he explains: “I cannot separate my art from politics.”

Part of ensuring that power is not concentrated comes in ensuring that local people own and tell their own stories, as well as reporting their own experiences.

“I think… as long as local people are [telling their own stories], they will understand the language; they will understand the cultural perspective. They will have the empathy, but they will also have an accountability to their audience and therefore, they need to be far more responsible in their reporting than they might otherwise have been.”

Having said that, Alam also recognizes that there could be blind spots when locals tell or report their own stories and therefore having an external perspective is not unhealthy. The problem, according to Alam, emerges when “external forces” or narratives from foreign correspondents become “far more powerful [than the narratives] from the local community, and that imbalance is problematic,” Alam explains, echoing sentiments he shared last time he was in Salzburg in 2016 for the programBeyond Green: The Arts as a Catalyst for Sustainability:“Until the lion finds their storyteller, hunters will always be portrayed as the hero.”

Alam’s activism, high profile arrest and subsequent persistence in the face of adversity saw him acknowledged as one of TIME magazine’s People of the Year in 2018. It has been an unexpected rise to fame.  

Alam explains that before he was arrested, “I was known in professional circles and people like Sanjeev [Chatterjee] and people here [at Salzburg Global Seminar] knew me, and certainly within Bangladesh, my fellow professionals knew me. But the average person did not. Today if I’m in the streets, I get hugged by people. They have tears in their eyes. They tell me, ‘You said something which all of us wanted to say but we couldn’t.’”

After Alam’s arrest, his impact spread throughout Bangladesh and other parts of the world, as many became inspired by his courage. Alam tells the story of a woman who asked him to bless her child.

“It moved me,” he said. “I felt that here was a woman who was not bringing up a child to be saved from everything and [to] look after its own interests, but to have the courage to stand up for what is right. And when a mother is prepared to do that, I think there is a lot of hope for a nation,” Alam said.

“I think it cannot be that mother alone. It needs to be all of us. And while fear does create fear in other people, so does courage. And I think all it takes is for a few individuals to stand up and be counted, for others to rise up as well. And that’s what’s needed.”

The Bailey Morris-Eck Lecture on International Media, Economics, and Trade was established out of the generosity of Salzburg Global board member Bailey Morris-Eck and her family. The lecture is delivered annually at Salzburg Global Seminar programs. The Salzburg Global program, The Cost of Disbelief: Fracturing Societies and Erosion of Trust, is part of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change.

Stephanie Bertels - Why Is It Increasingly Important for Boards to Clearly Signal Their Position on ESG Issues?
Stephanie Bertels - Why Is It Increasingly Important for Boards to Clearly Signal Their Position on ESG Issues?
By: Stephanie Bertels 

Academic Stephanie Bertels explores the growing importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues for the corporate sector for this month’s Salzburg Question for Corporate Governance

This article is part of the series, the Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance by the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum

As an academic working at the intersection of corporate governance and sustainability, I end up chatting with executives and directors in global companies quite regularly. Lately, directors are asking whether their company should be taking a public position on one or more environmental, social, or governance (ESG) issues. “It used to be just the NGOs or the SRIs (socially responsible investors) asking for this, but now even mainstream investors are asking,” they will say. Even the central banks have started to get in on the action, viewing climate change as a threat to financial stability. 

It started decades ago with the pressure to issue a sustainability report, but a string of incidents ranging from the Rana Plaza building collapse and the Volkswagen emissions scandal to PG&E’s “climate-driven bankruptcy” have raised questions about what other environmental, social, and governance risks may lurk within. 

And yet despite these issues, or perhaps because of them, the world is looking to the biggest companies to clearly articulate what role they will play in solving some of our most intractable problems and to clarify how they will contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Boards need to respond

As demands for corporate social and environmental responsibility expand and intensify, investors are demanding a clear position from management and the board, one that includes specifically addressing the company’s understanding of the context in which it operates and clarifying its role and commitments to address key environmental and social challenges.

But our research is showing that this isn’t just a paper exercise. By developing position statements, boards and executive teams deepen their understanding of these issues in the context of their business, clarify the link to the company’s overall strategy, clarify their position for other key stakeholders, and provide the direction and confidence for management and employees to act. 

What does “good” look like when it comes to a position statement?

That’s a question that keeps surfacing in my conversations with directors. To provide an answer, we analyzed over 3,000 board position statements, finding that too often, they were lengthy documents that failed to make a clear strategic connection between the issue and the implications for business decision making. 

Our guide on Next Generation Governance, provides a framework to help companies produce more credible and concise position statements. 

A good position statement will do three key things: 

  1. Explain your company’s understanding of the issue including what you see as relevant limits; 
  2. Clearly link the issue to your business strategy; and
  3. Make a credible commitment to take appropriate actions.

It’s that credible commitment piece that many companies are struggling with. It means that for each relevant issue, your company needs to talk with stakeholders to understand the key system limits and what it would take for your company to operate within them. 

Companies are increasingly expected to take a position on carbon

One issue that is taking front and center is the climate crisis. Of the statements we reviewed, over 2,000 of them related to climate change and momentum continues to grow fueled by two key trends. 

First, the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) released guidelines asking companies to engage in scenario-planning and to disclose their climate-related risks. While currently voluntary, it is expected that regulation on mandatory climate risk disclosure is sure to follow.

Second, there are a multitude of initiatives pressing companies to set a science-based target in alignment with a 1.5°C reduction pathway. Despite this, a recent study of 274 of the largest publicly traded, high-emitting companies found that almost half do not adequately consider climate risks in their operational decision-making and only an eighth are reducing carbon emissions at the rate required to keep global warming below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C. 

To be viewed as credibly engaging on climate, investors and other stakeholders will want you to articulate a clear position. For those ready to do so, this guide can help. 

Have an opinion? 

We encourage our readers to share your comments by joining in the discussion on LinkedIn.

Stephanie Bertels is the director of the Centre for Corporate Governance and Sustainability at Simon Fraser University's (SFU) Beedie School of Business in Vancouver, Canada. She founded and leads the Embedding Project, where she works with dozens of global companies to help them embed sustainability into their operations and decision-making. Stephanie developed an online knowledge portal ( featuring a curated selection of the most relevant corporate sustainability resources - including practical guides and tools developed through her own research. Her most recent work draws upon a review of over 3200 board position statements and interviews with over 200 global CEOs and board chairs to explore how corporate governance and corporate strategy processes are shifting to account for environmental and social constraints. She has previously worked as an environmental engineer and is a trustee and chair of SFU's Academic Pension Plan. She has a Ph.D. in strategy and global management and sustainable development from the University of Calgary, an M.Sc. in petroleum engineering from Stanford University, USA, and a B.Sc. in geological environmental engineering from Queen's University. Stephanie is a Fellow of Salzburg Global Seminar.

The Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance is an online discussion series introduced and led by Fellows of the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum. The articles and comments represent opinions of the authors and commenters, and do not necessarily represent the views of their corporations or institutions, nor of Salzburg Global Seminar. Readers are welcome to address any questions about this series to Forum Director, Charles E. Ehrlich: To receive a notification of when the next article is published, follow Salzburg Global Seminar on LinkedIn or sign up for email notifications here: 

High Tech in Kenya: Opportunities Modernizing Government
Katherine Getao at Salzburg Global SeminarKatherine Getao at Salzburg Global Seminar
High Tech in Kenya: Opportunities Modernizing Government
By: Martin Silva Rey 

CEO of Kenya's ICT authority Katherine Getao takes stock of achievements and challenges for the country's public administration

"Perhaps I had not understood that there are many things that need to come together in order for technology to work…" explains researcher, policymaker and expert in ICT and education Katherine Getao. "There's education, yes, which I was doing, but there's also infrastructure. And there's also business innovation that needs to all come together, and appropriate applications which all need to come together."

Getao was headhunted nine years ago by the Kenyan Government, and last year she was appointed CEO of that country's ICT authority. Since then, one of her main achievements has been Huduma Kenya, an initiative to enhance the access and delivery of government services to the citizens.

To share her experience with other senior public sector leaders, she attended the latest Salzburg Global Seminar program, Agility for an Accelerating World: Can Governments Keep Up?, part of the Public Sector Strategy Network, in Salzburg, Austria.

When asked about the main challenges Kenya faces to continue modernizing the government, Getao said, "Well, the will is there, but sometimes the skill is not there…" The lack of management skills concerns her.

"I'm not talking just about the technological skill because that you can hire. But there's the strategic skill and the tactical skill. Strategy means knowing when and how to choose technology—and the tactics, how to deploy it…

"That can be very challenging because there's a tradition in government about the way things are done, and somebody told me when I first joined the civil service that government is all about power. So whenever you ask for a shift in government, part of the interpretation is how is it going to affect my power structures? Am I going to lose status as a result of the introduction of technology? … there's this myth that technology is going to make everything easy, but technology has to be managed and managed very well in order for it to work appropriately."

Getao is not worried about possible shifts in government. "I think the advantage is that through the efforts of the private sector, the majority of the citizenry have taken the technology to heart. So as a politician, it's difficult to take things backwards because, you know, citizens are used to doing things through technology. So yes, you hear political noises about some of the projects… but usually what happens is eventually the people see the benefit… anything where obviously a large number of people see their benefit, politicians will find it hard to mess up with it…"

To apply technology "to the real needs and problems and issues of the people," Getao focuses on four areas. The first is infrastructure, which, she believes, "is the biggest barrier to the use of technology."

The second area concerns skills. "Skills now is not only about learning about the technology, but it's building digital age values. Trust is a big issue in the digital age. So how do you build the values that support trust? How do you really shape people to be not just consumers of technology but also producers and manipulators of technology?"

The third area involves understanding services. "How do you deliver public services in a very fast and instantaneous way, so that people don't have to interrupt their lives? I mean, the private sector has done that for us. I mean, in Kenya, somebody is always under the table paying bills, sending money to their relatives [and] paying fees. So we used to have to ask for permission to leave work for a few hours to go and do any of those things. But now, even if I was sitting with you… one of my hands would just be busy carrying out all those tasks instantaneously on my phone. And citizens are used to that. So I should not have any public service where they have to interrupt their life flow in order to access the service…"

The final area, which Getao considers "the most important" one? Work. "Some people think that we'll just go through the continuum that maybe other parts of the world did, where you go from agricultural to an industrial society and eventually to a knowledge society. I don't think so because the world has globalized the products that people are demanding, changing the way they live their lives or where they procure their products… Even the climate is changing.

"So what will it be to work? How do you prepare those people for that kind of work? What will they be doing? How do you then shape their environment where they live, where they shop, to facilitate the new work? And what is the new work?"

The Salzburg Global Seminar program, Agility for an Accelerating World: Can Governments Keep Up?, is part of the Public Sector Strategy Network. This program is supported by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, in partnership with Apolitical. Additional country and institutional partners include the Australian Government, the Government of Ireland, the Government of Canada's Impact and Innovation Unit, Civil Service College Singapore, and Nesta. More information on this network is available at the following link:

Taking Risks, Learning from Mistakes, and Being Innovative
Patrick Borbey at Salzburg Global SeminarPatrick Borbey at Salzburg Global Seminar
Taking Risks, Learning from Mistakes, and Being Innovative
By: Oscar Tollast 

President of Public Service Commission in Canada discusses applying scientific rigor to public sector experimentation

"Agile means being nimble, being able to be responsive, being able to take issues and rather than try to overcomplicate them try to bring in some simple elements that you can test and try out…" This is the view of Patrick Borbey, president of the Public Service Commission in Canada.

Borbey spoke while attending the recent Salzburg Global Seminar program, Agility for an Accelerating World: Can Governments Keep Up? The program was the latest installment of the Public Sector Strategy Network, a series supported by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court in partnership with Apolitical.

The former associate deputy minister of Canadian Heritage was among senior public leaders from 18 other countries at Schloss Leopoldskron, in Salzburg, Austria. Together, participants examined some of the pressing challenges and opportunities for the public sector and governments in the near future.

Borbey started in his role in May 2017. Having spent the first few months of his role in "learning mode," he has since begun engaging with public service employers across Canada to encourage them to take a more future-oriented approach toward staffing, increasing diversity, and recruiting from talent pools previously untapped. Borbey said, "We want a public service that's representative of the society we serve."

The Public Service Commission of Canada is "responsible for promoting and safeguarding a merit-based, representative and non-partisan public service that serves all Canadians in collaboration with its stakeholders." Borbey is keen to maintain a level of excellence traditionally associated with the service and reaffirm the values of bilingualism, diversity, inclusion, and respect.

Borbey also remains interested in learning from other jurisdictions and sharing best practices. Having previously engaged with representatives from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, coming to Salzburg presented Borbey another opportunity to expand that approach further as he was able to hear from participants from other countries and continents. He said, "We do have a lot in common, and we can learn from each other."

During the program, participants heard about different techniques and methodologies used to tackle challenges and develop policy, including sandbox tests and hackathons. Borbey said, "I was struck by the examples, and I think that's an area that I'm going to want to explore as well in terms of… when we do our next policy work, can we take some of those approaches that are much more collaborative [and] iterative?"

Changes made to the Public Service Commission's policy frame for staffing have allowed for flexibility and innovation. Departments and agencies, meanwhile, have also been encouraged to experiment. It is an approach the central agency has tried to foster, particularly in areas which may have been considered risky, according to Borbey.

"Look, we're supposed to be the watchdogs of the staffing system, and if we're willing to take a risk and experiment and do things a little bit differently, then that hopefully encourages others."

Experimenting with new ideas is important, but so is applying scientific rigor. Borbey said, "You have to make sure the criteria are clear. You have to have a risk analysis with mitigation strategies in order to be able to make sure that the pilot [and] the results will be measurable and that they will be shareable and scalable potentially also to a broader application.  

"Unfortunately quite often some of the innovation happens because somebody has a good idea and they say, 'Let's just run with it. Let's just do it,' without properly framing it and making sure that there's a performance measurement framework for example—a strategy to be able to report on the results and see what exactly you've learned.

"The other thing is you have to also be prepared to deal with failure, and how do you address failure? At what point do you declare this particular experiment is over? 'It's a failure, or it's not leading to the results we wanted. What did we learn and how do we move forward from failure?' Again that's all part of the scientific process. Thomas Edison failed hundreds of times before he got the light bulb light. In the public sector, we have to accept that that's part of also learning and growing."

During his career, Borbey has held several positions of significant responsibility. He has been president of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency; chair of the Senior Arctic Officials; chair of the Arctic Council; senior assistant deputy minister of Treaties and Aboriginal Government; assistant deputy minister of Northern Affairs; assistant deputy minister of Corporate Services at both the Privy Council Office and Health Canada; and associate assistant deputy minister of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch at Health Canada. He has also overseen the departmental mandate for Sport Canada and worked closely with the National Capital Commission and Canada's six national museums.

Joining the public service as a student, he held low expectations, unsure whether he would enjoy the work ahead. Within time, however, he gained a better understanding and appreciation. "I thought maybe government was going to be a bit boring, and I was completely blown away. My experience was so positive. I had a great manager who was a coach to me. I was given work that not only matched my capabilities but actually pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I was given a fair amount of autonomy, some guidance, and support but then after that a lot of trust in terms of carrying out my duties and I was listened [to] as part of the team, and I thought, 'Wow this is an organization that meets my expectations in terms of where I would want to work.' Eventually, I joined, and that has been my experience throughout my career.

"The other thing that I found fascinating about Public Service of Canada is how it's the largest employer in Canada. There are so many different opportunities to serve your country and all kinds of different ways whether it's regulatory, working on the environment, on the economy, on social issues, working internationally, working on scientific projects, [or] getting a chance to see parts of Canada that a lot of people would never have a chance to see and represent your country abroad. There [are] so many opportunities, and we don't talk enough about it to young people when we're trying to attract the best and the brightest."

The Salzburg Global Seminar program, Agility for an Accelerating World: Can Governments Keep Up?, is part of the Public Sector Strategy Network. This program is supported by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, in partnership with Apolitical. Additional country and institutional partners include the Australian Government, the Government of Ireland, the Government of Canada's Impact and Innovation Unit, Civil Service College Singapore, and Nesta. More information on this network is available at the following link:

This is One Way Chile’s Government is Encouraging Innovation
Roman Yosif at Salzburg Global SeminarRoman Yosif at Salzburg Global Seminar
This is One Way Chile’s Government is Encouraging Innovation
By: Martin Silva Rey 

Roman Yosif, executive director of the Government Lab in Chile discusses the initiative's impact on public administration

"I had the motivation that, at some point, my professional career would be linked with public policies since public policies can have an impact at the national level in a much stronger way than when you work in private business." That motivation turned into reality when Roman Yosif was hired by the Chilean government to launch what's thought to be the first government lab in Latin America. After five years, he now leads Laboratorio de Gobierno.

In May this year, Yosif attended the Salzburg Global Seminar program, Agility for an Accelerating World: Can Governments Keep Up?, part of the Public Sector Strategy Network. There, he was one of the youngest public sector leaders to share his experience with international colleagues.

So, how does the Chilean Government Lab work?

"At first, we had a series of very standardized programs that we went out to sell. And now what we do is a logic of agile consultancy in innovation projects, where we capture demand from public institutions that require innovation, where we filter when it's really necessary that the lab works with them, but where at the same time that agile logic allows you to transfer capacities. [It] allows you to address problems that really are [a] priority…" Yosif said.

Yosif and his team see themselves as advisors in public innovation and recognize the significance and logic of working in partnership with others. He said, "We are not a McKinsey-like consultant that only gives recommendations, and later others implement, but we are part of the implementation… The base of the lab is co-creation, co-design, and how public policies really focus on people's needs [and] different types of users. Sometimes, they are a hospital's patients. Sometimes, [they are] entrepreneurs who need to develop in a market. Sometimes, non-governmental agencies…"

By having a network of public innovators, knowledge is decentralized, and there is an increased motivation to innovate and share, according to Yosif. He said, "It breaks the chain not only between ministers and sectors but also between the central government and local governments. And it also invites the private sector, the third sector, entrepreneurs, and other ordinary citizens to join this network of people…"

One of the main challenges that he and his team have had to face was a shift from a leftist government that created the lab to a more conservative one.

"Usually, when these small agencies are created in Chile, with a specific target, and by a specific administration, if the political color changes, in the following government, they are eliminated. And if they are not eliminated, they are completely changed, teams totally change, and thus perspectives change—sometimes too drastically.

"So, we had the challenge of transitioning from one administration to the other, and also of reviewing what we had done at a very initial state of the lab, and say, well, what works and what does not. And when I had the first conversations with the authorities, basically the authorities told us, 'A laboratory inside a government draws our attention, but innovation just for innovation… Honestly, this is not what we are looking for. We are looking for concrete results, in a short time, with delivery to the people, and 100-percent connected with the president's agenda…'"

A week was the time they had to adapt to the new conditions. Yosif said, "The team was resilient and had the capacity to critique what we had done… and present a proposition to the president and his advisors on how Laboratorio de Gobierno 2.0 should be."

In Salzburg, Yosif found himself in the company of 31 other public leaders from 19 countries, exploring similar challenges and exchanging familiar experiences. He said, "When you have structural social problems that have not been solved yet, and when you have precarious management from the state, that is when innovation happens in the most latent way… It is about how we turn a problem upside down, from the user's point of view, with an agile work logic where there is not a six-month planning horizon, but daily, weekly, [and] monthly you are discovering what the best way is, what is the best design. You test it, you evaluate it, and then you scale it…

"[In this model] there isn't a group of experts to tell us what we have to do but it's users who have the best knowledge about the problems that they live day by day in transport, public health care, and other areas. And it is public officers who must capture those insights at a massive level, who must have the abilities to transform them in pertinent solutions, and they also need to have the mindset to say, 'Well, we are at their service.' We are partners in the development of these innovations… and we always have to be alert about new technologies [and] new trends. Therefore, we need to connect ourselves in a public-private system of public innovation."   

Yosif's next challenge is to make the lab a long-lasting institution with long-term effects. He said, "For me, this is… more than a job, a super personal life mission. I am absolutely convinced that the way to add value where one is has to do with how you change paradigms, how you motivate and invite people to see new scenarios, to test those new scenarios and to have the courage, and to have as well the will to learn how to develop those new scenarios…"

The Salzburg Global Seminar program, Agility for an Accelerating World: Can Governments Keep Up?, is part of the Public Sector Strategy Network. This program is supported by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, in partnership with Apolitical. Additional country and institutional partners include the Australian Government, the Government of Ireland, the Government of Canada's Impact and Innovation Unit, Civil Service College Singapore, and Nesta. More information on this network is available at the following link:

James Comey: Russia Will Interfere in 2020 US Election
James Comey: Russia Will Interfere in 2020 US Election
By: Louise Hallman 

Former Director of the FBI expresses concern that Moscow will continue to meddle in next presidential election, calls Trump’s behavior towards Russia “stunning”

James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, told journalists in Austria this weekend that he thinks Moscow will interfere in the next US presidential elections in 2020 and that President Trump’s attitude toward the hostile country is “stunning.”

Speaking to journalists from Der Standard, the Salzburger Nachrichten, the Wiener Zeitung and the Suddeutsche Zeitung while at Salzburg Global Seminar’s annual June Board Weekend, Comey said:

“I think Moscow and the Russians will interfere in some respect. This is a big challenge for the American security community to figure out what they’re doing and try to devise a way to stop it. 

“A central challenge for the FBI and the rest of the US national security community is that the President doesn’t acknowledge that the 2016 attack happened. So if he’s the commander-in-chief, how do you effectively block the next attack if your boss won’t acknowledge the last one?”

Appointed to the post in 2013 by then-president Barack Obama, the former director of the FBI was controversially fired by President Trump in May 2017. The grounds for his dismissal formed part of the investigation led by his predecessor at the Bureau and Special Counsel to the Department of Justice, Robert Mueller.

Comey called the evidence presented in the Mueller Report “compelling” and “striking” adding that it “confirmed beyond all possible doubt that the Russians attacked the American election.”

Russia attacked the 2016 US presidential elections through three main channels, Comey explained: by sowing discord and exploiting existing divisions on issues such as race, gun control and abortion through provocative postings on social media platforms; hacking and releasing sensitive emails; and “noisily” hacking voter registration databases.

It was this third prong of the attack that Comey found most concerning. 

“We had a hard time figuring out the purpose of that,” the former investigator explained, as many of the targeted databases were not in closely-run states, which would have been the expected targets of election interference. 

“I actually concluded that they were doing it so that we would see it, so that we would say something about it. Because remember – their first goal was to undermine confidence in the integrity of the election.”

US security services and social media platforms are working to thwart and reduce any future Russian attacks, said Comey, agreeing that the likes of Facebook and Twitter had learned a lesson from 2016 and adding that there was “goodness” in the fact that American voters were now more aware of possible Russian manipulation of social media. 
Despite concerns that Russia will attack future elections through similar tactics, Comey remained confident that there would not be manipulation of the vote itself thanks to the “complicated and local” manner in which the US conducts its elections. 

“I call it a hairball. It’s a beautiful hairball because it’s very hard for someone from St. Petersburg to get down to the local level and change my vote in the gymnasium where I just slipped on a paper card.”

Given all the evidence that Russia is intent on undermining US democracy, the former head of the FBI expressed serious concerns about Trump’s Russia policy:

“I was very much struck by the president standing next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, and siding with Vladimir Putin against his own intelligence community with respect to their judgments about interference in the election. That was stunning to me…

“He frequently says he tougher on Russia than any president. That, like a lot of the things that Mr. Trump, says is not true.”

Salzburg Lecture

Comey was in Salzburg to deliver the third Salzburg Lecture at Salzburg Global Seminar’s annual June Board of Directors Weekend

Following this year’s theme of Living Dangerously: How Can We Get Real About Risk?, the former FBI director spoke on “Judgment Calls: Risks, Rules and Leadership,” calling on leaders to “get help, lift your eyes, and remember your grandchildren” when taking tough decisions. 

Trump is a “Chronic Liar” Who Doesn’t “Embody American Values” Says James Comey
Trump is a “Chronic Liar” Who Doesn’t “Embody American Values” Says James Comey
By: Louise Hallman 

Former Director of the FBI calls out US president for his lies and fears young Americans will emulate him

James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, called US President Donald J. Trump a “chronic liar” who does not “embody American values” in an interview with Austrian journalists.

Speaking to journalists from Der Standard, the Salzburger Nachrichten, the Wiener Zeitung and the Suddeutsche Zeitung while at Salzburg Global Seminar’s annual June Board Weekend, Comey said:

“It’s bad for our country if the rest of the world thinks you’re led by a leader who’s a chronic liar,” adding that the 45th president has “fundamentally changed” the executive office. 

Comey worked under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who promoted him to head the FBI in 2013, before he was controversially dismissed from his post by Donald J. Trump in May 2017. Comey praised the 43rd and 44th US presidents, saying they “both did something that leaders have to do: listen well.” In contrast, he called the current president “the worst listener as a leader I’ve ever seen” adding that he does not “embody American values.”


“The flip side of this,” Comey added, “is American parents of the last two and a half years have had more conversations at dinner with their children about truth than ever before…

“People copy their leaders. So children watch the president of United States see moral equivalence in Charlottesville, treat and speak about women like they’re pieces of meat, and lie constantly. There’s a danger that will shape these young people. And what’s good about America is most people are responding by saying to their kids: ‘You see what you just saw on television? No, no, no! That’s not the way you were raised to act. You will treat women with respect. You will understand that racial prejudice is a real thing in the United States and has to be addressed. And you will tell the truth.’

“In a way I’m sure he never anticipated, Donald Trump has been a spur in some ways to our culture. I wouldn’t argue that we needed him. But, there is good that is coming from the way Donald Trump has acted.”

Having published the book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership in 2018, Comey now plans to spend his time until 2020 elections teaching and speaking about ethical leadership, especially with younger Americans.

Salzburg Lecture

As part of this personal mission to speak out against unethical leadership, Comey was in Salzburg to deliver the third Salzburg Lecture at Salzburg Global Seminar’s annual June Board of Directors Weekend

Following this year’s theme of “Living Dangerously: How Can We Get Real About Risk?”, the former FBI director spoke on “Judgment Calls: Risks, Rules and Leadership,” calling on leaders to “get help, lift your eyes, and remember your grandchildren” when taking tough decisions. 

“I want to be able to tell [my grandchildren] that when we were led by an unethical President I lent my voice.”

Asked about his own political ambitions and a possible run for office, Comey emphatically replied: “That’s an easy no.” 

James Comey: There’s a Two-layer System of Government in Trump’s America
James Comey: There’s a Two-layer System of Government in Trump’s America
By: Louise Hallman 

Former Director of the FBI calls the practice of ignoring the US President dysfunctional but comforting

James Comey, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, dismissed conspiracy theories that there was an anti-Trump cabal at the FBI but told journalists in Austria that there is currently a “two-layer” system currently in operation in the US.

Speaking to Bloomberg TV, live from the Max Reinhardt Office of Schloss Leopoldskron, Comey said: “The notion that we were part of some anti-Trump cabal is a lie and it’s sort of a dumb lie… We were investigating people associated with the Trump campaign before the election and we didn’t tell anybody.”

Later, when addressing journalists from Der Standard, the Salzburger Nachrichten, the Wiener Zeitung and the Suddeutsche Zeitung while at Salzburg Global Seminar’s annual June Board Weekend, the former head of the FBI added:

“There’s a strange situation in American government right now. There’s two layers. There’s the president at the top saying all kinds of things. And then there’s a lot of people at the next level who are ignoring him and are prepared to protect the American people. That’s dysfunctional – but it’s comforting.”

The former FBI head said the current two-layer system is “not healthy” or “sustainable” but urged those concerned with the erratic behavior of Donald Trump, such as European bureaucrats, diplomats and security agents, to continue working with their American counterparts despite the “noise” coming from the president’s Twitter account. 

“I don’t believe in keeping secrets from the commander in chief… If leaders are picking and choosing what they share with the president because of their concerns about what he’ll do with the information that’s not healthy…

“They all have to decide for themselves. But they should decide [to] interact with the United States knowing what the country is like… Understanding that the relationships at a level below [the president] – between ambassadors, between defense officials, uniformed military – those are lasting and stable and should be a source of comfort. And so don’t let the noise distract too much… 

“But console yourself knowing that in the long run, you know America. You know what we’re like. And that should give you comfort.”

After his dismissal from the FBI – where he expected to be for “six more years” – Comey has spent his time writing and lecturing about ethical leadership. He published his book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership in 2018 and spoke at Salzburg Global Seminar on “Risks, Rules and Leadership” at the annual June Board of Directors Weekend. He will be taking up teaching posts in the fall. 

In his Salzburg Global Lecture, he said leaders need to “get help, lift your eyes, and remember your grandchildren” when taking tough decisions. The 58-year-old recently became a grandfather for the first time earlier this year. 

“I want to be able to tell [my grandchildren] that when we were led by an unethical President I lent my voice.”

James Comey: Trump Should Be Voted Out, Not Impeached
James Comey speaks to Bloomberg during a live interview at Salzburg Global Seminar.
James Comey: Trump Should Be Voted Out, Not Impeached
By: Louise Hallman 

Former Director of the FBI speaks to Bloomberg TV live from Salzburg Global Seminar

US President Donald J. Trump should be removed from office by voters not impeachment, James Comey, former Director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigations told Bloomberg TV on Friday, June 21.

Comey was speaking to Bloomberg’s Matt Miller live from Salzburg Global Seminar ahead of delivering the annual Salzburg Global Lecture at the June Board Weekend.

Appointed to the post in 2013 by then-president Barack Obama, the former director of the FBI was controversially fired by President Trump in May 2017. The grounds for his dismissal formed part of the investigation led by his predecessor at the Bureau and Special Counsel to the Justice Department, Robert Mueller. Comey dismissed conspiracy theories that there was an anti-Trump cabal at the FBI as a “dumb lie.”

The Mueller Report, published in March 2019, is now being touted by some of the president’s political opponents as grounds for impeachment. However, despite praising Mueller’s report as “tremendous work” that could lead to the president’s impeachment, Comey told Bloomberg that he hoped he would not be impeached. 

“That would let the American people off the hook,” he said, explaining that he believed US voters should remove Trump from office, not US Congress. Trump’s removal from office, he warned, could be seen as a coup by his supporters and instead, American politicians and citizens alike should keep their faith in the democratic process. While he declined to endorse any individual, Comey did say he believed that there were candidates in the 2020 presidential race who had the “character” necessary to be a good leader and president. 

In Agreement

While he repeated previously-stated criticisms of President Trump, Comey did appear to be in agreement with the president on matters of national security, calling both Iran and Chinese tech firm Huawei threats.

As the Trump Administration wages a trade war with China, Comey said that actions against Huawei were rooted in “a fact-based intelligence concern” and agreed that there would be intelligence risks “once their technology is embedded in a 5G network.” 

Less than 24 hours after President Trump called off military action in retaliation for Iran’s downing of an American drone, the former FBI director acknowledged that the Islamic Republic constitutes a “top” and “constant” threat to security.

Salzburg Lecture

Comey was at Salzburg Global Seminar to deliver the third Salzburg Lecture at the annual June Board of Directors Weekend. 

Following this year’s theme of Living Dangerously: How Can We Get Real About Risk?, the former FBI director spoke on “Risks, Rules and Leadership,” drawing on insights shared in his recently published book, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership, in which he discusses ethics, leadership, and his experience in government.

Other speakers at this year’s June Board of Directors Weekend included retired US Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy; leading African academic, Nelson Torto; former CEO of the World Wildlife Fund, Kathryn Fuller; and former executive chairman of the Malaysian Securities Commission, Ranjit Singh. All will address the increasing risks being faced in their fields and how we can mitigate such risk.

Stacy Baird - Europe’s Privacy Law - A Barrier to Artificial Intelligence or an Enabler?
Stacy Baird at the 2018 program of the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum
Stacy Baird - Europe’s Privacy Law - A Barrier to Artificial Intelligence or an Enabler?
By: Stacy Baird 

Intellectual property expert leads this month's online discussion on the Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance by posing questions for boards about the EU's GDPR

This article is part of the series, the Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance by the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum Join in the discussion on LinkedIn

Companies across the globe are dealing with the impact of Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as it has extraterritorial legal reach, revising privacy policies and practices (such as those annoying pop-ups about using cookies on many website, a notice required by GDPR). One of the topics of the work we were doing in Salzburg was whether boards needed to have expertise to address the use of AI in the company’s business processes and possibly, products and services. A question boards must consider is the implication of GDPR with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) or Machine Learning (ML). GDPR carries severe penalties, and significant privacy issues tend to carry high reputational cost. With the heightened concerns around AI, ML and privacy, there will be brighter lights shining on issues, when they arise. As your company moves into the use of these new technologies, are you prepared? Is your board?

With GDPR in effect just over six months, it is too early to know the impact – good or bad. Do you see GDPR as an impediment or an enabler of AI and ML for your company? Are there legal frameworks you can imagine or are aware of that may be a better approach? Is your company weighing these issues?

The more data processed by AI or ML system, the better and more accurate the technology is able to complete its tasks. When that data is personally identifying of individuals, questions come to the fore regarding privacy. There are also privacy concerns regarding the outputs of the AI or ML system that paints a portrait of an individual that may reveal personal attributes that the individual may prefer remain private. Sometimes, indeed, data may not be personally identifying, but could be compared with data that are, with the result of identifying an individual. The European Court of Justice has already held where this is “likely reasonably,” the former data moves into the class of data protected by the Data Protection Directive, the predecessor to the GDPR.

In Europe, the GDPR, in part, addresses these issues directly, stating in Article 9: “Processing of personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, and the processing of genetic data, biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.”

The GDPR requires consent of a data subject (i.e. the person whose data is being processed) be freely given, specific and informed, and unambiguous – and by a clear affirmative act, such as a writing or speaking. “Specific and informed” means that consent is granted only for that particular purpose for which the consent is being sought, and does not extend to other (e.g., new) purposes. Further, consent can be withdrawn at any time and the individual has a right to have the data deleted (i.e., the right to be forgotten). 

An alternative to obtaining consent is to anonymize, de-identify or pseudonymize the data, which allows a data processor to use the data for purposes beyond which consent was obtained. However, the effectiveness of anonymization is only as good as the extent to which the anonymization is irreversible. As the Information Commissioner’s Office of the UK points out, it may not be possible to establish with absolute certainty a particular dataset is irreversible, especially when taken together with other data that may exist elsewhere.

GDPR Article 5 sets out “principles relating to processing of personal data” including “lawfulness, fairness and transparency; purpose limitation; data minimization; accuracy; storage limitation; integrity and confidentiality; and accountability.” Some of the principles may be contrary to the use of AI and ML, which must first collect as much data as possible, and then analyze the data after collection (the “learning” process). This process makes complying with the purpose limitation and data minimization principles challenging.

Article 22 protects data subjects from decisions based solely on “automated individual decision-making, including profiling” which produce legal effects or similarly significantly affects the data subject. The requirement can be overcome if the data subject gives explicit consent. As well, the restriction addresses decisions based solely on automated processing. Therefore, for decisions such as applications for credit, loans, health insurance, or in the case of job interviews, performance appraisals, school admissions, or court ordered incarceration, the automation can (and many would say should) be used to inform a human decision, not supplant it.

The use of an AI and ML for “decision-making including profiling” must also be “explainable” to the data subject. But it is an open question as to the extent of the explainability – and to what degree the data subject must understand. Barriers to understanding an algorithm include the technical literacy of the data-subject individual and a mismatch between the mathematical optimization in high-dimensionality characteristic of machine learning (i.e., conditional probabilities generated by ML) and the demands of human-scale reasoning and styles of interpretation (i.e., human understanding of causality).

There are competing views on whether the provisions of GDPR enable or are barriers to AI and ML. For example, does the GDPR right to withdraw consent weigh in the decision of a company to use the data? It may be a challenge to delete data in widely federated datasets, and doing so diminishes the “learning” based on the data. With each new use for data, the company is required to go back to get consent. Is that alone an impediment? With the growing range of devices collecting data (i.e., Internet of Things), will it be possible to get specific and informed consent as a practical matter?

In contrast to those raising concerns, Jeff Bullwinkel at Microsoft has written that the GDPR framework strikes the right balance between protecting privacy and enabling the use of AI – provided the law is interpreted reasonably.

What is your view? How is your company weighing these issues? Do you see the GDPR as an enabler? Blocker? Do you know enough about the GDPR to make informed decisions? Does the rest of your board know enough? Given the potential liabilities and risks to the company, do you think it should?

Have an opinion? 

We encourage readers to share your comments by joining in the discussion on LinkedIn

Stacy Baird is a Salzburg Global Fellow and consulting director at the Singapore-based consulting firm TRPC. His expertise lies in law and advising businesses and governments on information technology, privacy, data protection, cloud computing, and intellectual property (IP) public policy matters. Stacy also serves as executive director of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Forum Intellectual Property Program, where he helps address bilateral technology transfer and IP issues in the context of clean energy research and commercialization. Previously, Stacy served as Senior Policy Advisor to U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, including work on the U.S. Patriot Act, and advisor to U.S. Congressman Howard Berman on issues of first impression related to the then-nascent internet and the mapping of the human genome. Prior to law, Stacy worked as music recording engineer with clients including Madonna, Stevie Nicks, Elvis Costello, Brian Eno, and Francis Coppola. He held appointments as Visiting Scholar at the University of Southern California College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and Visiting Fellow at the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law. Stacy has a J.D. from Pace University and a B.A. in radio and television communications from San Francisco State University. 

The Salzburg Questions for Corporate Governance is an online discussion series introduced and led by Fellows of the Salzburg Global Corporate Governance Forum. The articles and comments represent opinions of the authors and commenters, and do not necessarily represent the views of their corporations or institutions, nor of Salzburg Global Seminar. Readers are welcome to address any questions about this series to Forum Director, Charles E. Ehrlich: To receive a notification of when the next article is published, follow Salzburg Global Seminar on LinkedIn or sign up for email notifications here:

Hal Varian – Data, Like Oil, Needs to be Refined to be Useful
Hal Varian speaking at Salzburg Global SeminarHal Varian speaking at Salzburg Global Seminar
Hal Varian – Data, Like Oil, Needs to be Refined to be Useful
By: Maryam Ghaddar 

Chief economist at Google explains what he believes the Fourth Industrial Revolution will look like and the effects of big data and robotics on education, labor, research, and demographics

For decades, science fiction films and books have foretold of a future where robots dominate the world, where human action becomes obsolete, and subsequently, human intelligence dwindles into oblivion. Hal Varian, the chief economist at Google, is of a different mindset. He believes technology will set its own course.

“My theory is,” he jested, “we want to make sure robots think humans are cute - kind of like doggies and puppies and kitty cats… because if they think we’re cute, then they’ll take care of us.”

Varian, who attended this year’s program of the Salzburg Global Forum on Finance in a Changing World on the recommendation of a friend, has worked at Google since 2002 on algorithm designs for auctioning and marketing systems, as well as policy-related issues, like privacy and intellectual property.

During the Finance Forum, titled The Promise and Perils of Technology: Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Cybercrime and Fintech, he presented a keynote speech on the economics of artificial intelligence (AI). More specifically, he explained the economic implications of data on education, the workforce, research and development, and demographics. Varian later elaborated on this point, saying data needed to be turned into information, knowledge, and action to be coined as meaningful.

“I think there’s a mystical belief in the power of data,” he said. “Data is like oil in one respect… namely, it needs to be refined in order to be useful. So the data itself is not the important components, the know-how to refine it into something that’s useful. It’s the same [when] we talk about oil or data – it’s just the raw material, it’s not the finished product.”

When it comes to considering what the Fourth Industrial Revolution will look like, it’s easy to fall into the trap of fearing the unknown. The societal response to this radical revolution, whether it concerns technology, big data, or mass industrial change, is one massive question mark. Varian suggested past industrial revolutions occurred gradually, and then all at once, adding there were challenges and risks involved but then also a plethora of opportunities. He suggested it will be similar this time around.

“In Silicon Valley, they always say you overestimate what can be done in a year; you underestimate what can be done in ten years. So a lot of technology that looks so exciting and so obvious today will probably take many years to deploy… The mobile phone has come up as an example. The first working mobile phone was in 1970; the first commercial version was in 1980 – it cost over a thousand dollars, it weighed several [kilograms], it was the size of a brick. So, that technology took… more than a decade to really disseminate in a meaningful way.”

The chief economist offered another example that cropped up several times over the course of the Finance Forum: autonomous vehicles. For years, companies worldwide have been endeavoring to circulate driverless cars more widely. It is, as Varian underlined, “a trillion-dollar industry” that works on a mobile and a technological level, but human error and human behavior have thus far been too strong a poison against its operational and marketing advancement.

Preserving the human spirit in the face of such technological developments is essential to maintaining the situation in the future. “Demography is destiny,” Varian said. He described a concept of “Bots & Tots,” which essentially pins automation against procreation. Whereas age distribution is indicated through demographics, technology is not as widely understood.

“We don’t really know where we’ll go, even in three [or] five years; it’s hard to forecast what will happen in that time period. But, based on the estimates that I’ve developed using the demographic data and various forecasts of the technology data, it looks like the demographic data is the bigger effect, at least for the next ten or 15 years.”

Regarding education and labor, he said, “We are a long way away from truly intelligent robots, but at the same time… we’ve seen tremendous advances in just the last five years about tasks that were thought to be extremely difficult, like image recognition and automatic translation and voice transcription… I think that within the next two years, your mobile phone will be able to translate in real time… that doesn’t mean that translators would entirely disappear because there are still cases where the translator might need to know special vocabulary, technical work, physics, chemistry, mathematics, or specific literary skills.”

So how do we prepare for this new industrial revolution adequately and in a purposeful way? With the Finance Forum taking place directly after the Salzburg Global Board of Directors Gala Weekend titled Who’s Afraid of Artificial Intelligence?, Varian offered his input on the topic, stressing both the benefits and dangers of these changes.

“You certainly shouldn’t be blasé,” he noted. “You should recognize that every technology can be misused… There are tremendous possibilities for improvement in how people live, but they also can be used as weapons, and that’s not even thinking about the technological advancements. That’s simply taking ordinary devices that you would use every day – a car, a truck, a drone perhaps.”

His time at Schloss Leopoldskron provided Varian with the opportunity to exchange ideas and viewpoints with others in the field of economics and finance. “You learn things here,” he concluded. “Having these meetings… plus government meetings, plus institutional meetings, that’s what makes the world go round.” If Varian could leave his fellow participants with one piece of wisdom, what would that be? “Keep an open mind.”

The Salzburg Global Forum on Finance in a Changing World convenes an internationally representative group of leaders from financial services firms, supervisory and regulatory authorities, and consultancies, auditors, law firms and other professional service providers in a small and intimate setting. The annual gathering at Schloss Leopoldskron offers private and public sector leaders an opportunity for in-depth, off-the-record conversations on the issues affecting the future of global markets. For more info please click here.