Fellow Updates

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: 

Literary Society Moves 45th Anniversary Celebrations Online
Members of the International Society for Contemporary Literature and Theatre meet onlineMembers of the International Society for Contemporary Literature and Theatre meet online
Literary Society Moves 45th Anniversary Celebrations Online
By: Oscar Tollast 

The show goes on for the International Society for Contemporary Literature and Theatre, a network founded by Salzburg Global Fellows

Members of a literary society formed in the aftermath of a Salzburg Global Seminar program have celebrated the network’s 45th anniversary.

The International Society for Contemporary Literature and Theatre (ISCLT) moved their celebrations online this year due to the spread of COVID-19.

ISCLT was established in 1975, two years after inaugural members met at what was then known as the Salzburg Seminar, during the program, Contemporary American Literature.

ISCLT usually holds an annual two-week conference in a different country in the second half of July. This year, members planned to meet in Solin, Croatia, to celebrate its latest milestone, but organizers postponed the event until July 2021.

Marina Catalano-McVey, ISCLT executive secretary and Salzburg Global Fellow, thought of alternative ways for members to stay in touch, work together, and contribute toward a booklet celebrating the 45th anniversary.

She said, “It was amazing to see the response. We met virtually once a week during the summer and continued organizing prose and poetry reading sessions.”

“This experience has been so valuable also because we could be in contact with several members who have not been able to attend for the conference for several years for several reasons.”

“We have also organized our traditional final banquet through Zoom. The membership showed such enthusiasm and interest that I have decided to keep organizing Zoom meetings from time to time during the year.”

ISCLT is continuing to welcome new members. Catalano-McVey said, “ISCLT has proved extremely vital and creative in spite of the present dramatic situation, and we do hope we can inspire new members who may wish to join us and provide the Society with new vital energy in the future.”

For more information on ISCLT, visit or email Marina Catalano-McVey at


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.”

Launch of a “Lockdown Mini-Opera” for Salzburg Global Fellow and Political Prisoner Osman Kavala
Osman Kavala (left) and Lore Lixenberg and Nadine Benjamin (top right), two snails (bottom right)Osman Kavala (left) and Lore Lixenberg and Nadine Benjamin (top right)
Launch of a “Lockdown Mini-Opera” for Salzburg Global Fellow and Political Prisoner Osman Kavala
By: Friends of Osman Kavala 

Artists from around the world – including several Salzburg Global Fellows – collaborate online to create a new mini-opera paying tribute to Kavala's courage

Osman Kavala, Turkey's best-known supporter of culture, philanthropist, human rights champion and bridge-builder, is approaching 1000 days in Turkey’s highest security prison on trumped-up charges.

To keep him company in solitary confinement, he adopted two snails he found in his lunchtime prison salad.

The snails are now free. Osman is still not.

His friends in the Arts around the world have taken this story to create a new mini-opera paying tribute to his courage and celebrating his extraordinary support for culture and democracy. The unique video opera, Osman Bey and the Snails, is released today. It is a gift by artists to a political prisoner who promoted culture to bridge divides between Turkey and other nations. #OsmanBeyandtheSnails is an appeal to #FreeOsmanKavala.

The making of the opera in the midst of a global pandemic is a story in itself.

It was produced by UK-based Opera Circus and its community of artists in four countries. When the prison guard opens the door of Osman’s cell and floods it with light, Andy is opening his kitchen door in Sydney, Australia, into Darren’s kitchen 12,000 miles away in Brighton, England.

The contemporary classical work was composed by Nigel Osborne (The Electrification of the Soviet Union, the Birth of the Beatles Symphony), who seeks to evoke the different musical cultures — Armenian, Greek, Kurdish - Osman worked with “and most of all of Sevda, the Balkan music of love.”

“The true story of Osman and his snail-friends is like a fairy story, but it presents all of the truths about the loneliness of imprisonment in isolation and about Osman’s compassion and love of nature and beauty,” Osborne said.

Osman Kavala was taken into custody at Istanbul Ataturk Airport on October 18, 2017. He was locked up in the Silivri high-security jail outside Istanbul on fantastical charges -- that he organised the 2013 demonstrations to protect Istanbul's symbolic Gezi Park from redevelopment so as to stage a "coup" against Turkey's government.

In February, after the European Court of Human Rights ruled the charges against Osman baseless, a court in Istanbul acquitted him and ordered his immediate release.

In jail in solitary confinement, Osman had enjoyed the company of the two snails served in his salad.

After the judges ordered his release, he took the two “humble gastropods” with him. But later that day, Osman was cruelly re-arrested on even more hallucinatory charges. He gave the snails to his lawyer for safekeeping. They were freed and he was not.

This is an extraordinary moment in global politics. Across the world millions of people are now joining their voices and employing their creativity to oppose violence, injustice, and discrimination.

Osman Kavala has fought for these issues throughout his whole career and went to jail for them.

We pay tribute to him and his humanity today (June 23) as he spends his 966th day in detention.

To learn more about Kavala's work, click here.

Watch Osman Bey and the Snails

The opera is also available in Turkish. To watch the English version on Vimeo, please click here. To watch the Turkish version on Vimeo, please click here.

Osman Bey and the Snails is produced by Friends of Osman Kavala. It was composed by Nigel Osborne (composer and aid worker), a by Robert Golden (filmmaker and photographer). The singers are Darren Abrahams, Nadine Benjamin, Lore Lixenberg, Andy Morton and Robert Rice; piano accompaniment by Anthony Ingle, sound by Mikael Hegelund Martinsen (Beats across Borders, Denmark). The producer is Tina Ellen Lee, Opera Circus’ Artistic Director. The librettists are Nigel Osborne, Anthony Barnett (openDemocracy), Susanna Seidl-Fox, Clare Shine (Salzburg Global Seminar), Christina Maranci, Thomas de Waal and Vincent Higgins. 

Young Cultural Innovator Builds New Relationships in Detroit
Christopher Yepez received funding to organize several activities under his heartbeats:hood2hood project in 2017 and 2018Christopher Yepez received funding to organize several activities under his heartbeats:hood2hood project in 2017 and 2018
Young Cultural Innovator Builds New Relationships in Detroit
By: Oscar Tollast 

Christopher Yepez a.k.a. Sacramento Knoxx uses funding distributed by Salzburg Global to explore new methods of innovation and collaboration

A young cultural innovator based in Detroit, Michigan, has led a collaborative project designed to help improve the quality of life for future generations living in the city.

Christopher Yepez, a rapper, also known as Sacramento Knoxx, received support from Salzburg Global Seminar and The Kresge Foundation to organize several activities under his heartbeats:hood2hood project in 2017 and 2018. The project recognizes the powerful use of connection and technology to improve ecosystems.

Knoxx is a musician and filmmaker who helps direct the organization 'The Aadizookaan,' an indigenous-based multimedia arts collective. He received financial support after attending the third program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2016. The project had several partners for different activities and events.

Three community concerts were held at high schools, reaching 120 students in the Detroit area. These concerts took place through a partnership with the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.

Students were educated on race and housing in Detroit through music, performance, and the heartbeats curriculum. Knoxx said, "The partnership allowed us to combine Michigan Roundtable's mobile exhibit "We Don't Want Them," which focused on the history of race and housing in Detroit and how that impacts their current communities now, combined our literacy and cultural music work."

Knoxx and heartbeats also worked with We Found Hip Hop and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History to program their curriculum and help host Dilla Youth Day. This day inspired 250 young learners from across the city to explore science, technology, engineering, arts, and math disciplines through participatory design with interactive beat making and sound design.

During the project, Knoxx has been able to build relationships with architecture and design teams helping to reshape the fabric and development in Detroit. He said, "It's very important as we contribute our cultural work and community organizing to ensure an equitable Detroit with design and culture. As we face a high portion of displacement and discrimination in a city with a robust history of [the] racialization of space and now the spatialization of race, building those critical relationships with architecture is very important in shifting the culture where humans can live healthy with not only each other but the earth as well."

Knoxx sees many ways for the project to give back to the community, including by contributing resources and tools to help with storytelling and growing talent for youth, adults, and elders. He said, "We have fostered relationships with media technologists, architects, educators, designers, and practitioners of health and wellness to launch our heartbeats initiative with multiple Detroit community partners and individuals that will continue to build [a] legacy through the support of Salzburg."

His participation in the YCI Forum enabled him to connect the dots and develop the project. Knoxx said, "Visiting and hopping over cultural barriers across the globe with the YCI Forum sparked the motivation to make new approaches of connection and relationships in Detroit, which sparked the idea of heartbeats, like how all of us share a heartbeat, that operates our body and is important for life."

Moving forward, Knoxx said heartbeats would have the chance to expand into a couple of community-owned spaces for arts, culture, education, health, and wellness. Plans are also in place to work with other music-based programs in school and community organizations. He said, "With this challenge of building space and developing land, it sharpens us to emerge new leaders and new relationships for building community and innovating the culture with youth, adults, and elders."

Since embarking on this project, Knoxx has seen young artists emerging onto the arts and culture scene in Detroit with their individual styles. "We're continuing to support our collective efforts within many capacities, ranging from intimate builds to large scale productions. I would like to work within a heartbeats capacity across native communities and reservations across North America, bringing music technology and well-being together to create change and beauty," he said.

"We're also engaging in many grassroots activities, so when there is support like this to help us execute and carry on the vision, it is truly amazing and appreciated," said Knoxx.

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 change-makers in "Hub" communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

From One Generation to the Next: Documenting the Oral Tradition in Food
Yu Nakamura's fascination with "Grandma's Recipes" began five years ago in JapanYu Nakamura's fascination with "Grandma's Recipes" began five years ago in Japan
From One Generation to the Next: Documenting the Oral Tradition in Food
By: Carla Zahra 

Young Cultural Innovator Yu Nakamura brings Grandma's Recipes to Cajun community festival Cochon de Lait

Nothing smells quite as good as a grandmother's kitchen, and no one knows that better than foodie Yu Nakamura. As the co-founder of 40creations, Nakamura has been documenting oral traditions from grandmothers, a generation of women who provide a fresh perspective on cultures that have historically been dominated by male storytelling.

Throughout her journey, Nakamura has found the secret to cooking like our grandmothers lies not in the ingredients we use, but, instead, in the fragments of wisdom traditionally passed down from generation to generation.

Pieces of advice such as "The most important step in making this pumpkin jam is to stir the jam clockwise!" have frequently been passed on to Nakamura during her search for culinary wisdom. While this instruction would probably be left out of an ordinary cooking book, Nakamura believes these quirks are the "wisdom of living" that can only be inherited by cooking alongside our elders. As family structures change, then, inevitably, so will the direction in which jams are stirred.

"Families are often living apart, having fewer children than in the past, and moving towards the nuclear family type," says Nakamura. "The fact that we no longer live with our extended families means we are not taught to cook side-by-side with our grandmothers, so we lost the chance to pass on their recipes and tips."

Nakamura's fascination with "Grandma's Recipes" began five years ago in Japan. Since then, she has collected recipes from grandmothers all over the world, sharing documentaries on YouTube and publishing a book in Japan and Korea, never leaving out the little bits of wisdom she picks up along the way.  

After attending the third program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators in 2016, Nakamura found a network of likeminded creatives who encouraged her to continue pursuing her documentation of oral traditions. Among this group was Samuel Oliver, who she collaborated with in 2019 through a travel grant from Salzburg Global and the Kresge Foundation, traveling with her film crew from Japan to New Orleans to document Cajun food, culture, and history.  

During the trip, Nakamura attended the Cajun community festival, called "Cochon de Lait," which is organized by Oliver and his wife's family. Together with a local photographer who she met through Oliver, Nakamura interviewed different grandmothers at the festival, all in their 80s, who shared their traditional wisdom of Cajun and Creole cuisine.

"As soon as I heard the story of Samuel and his wife's family's festival, I really thought that this would be a great opportunity for an 'outsider,' as well as locals who don't live with a big family, to learn about the community's food customs and wisdom," says Nakamura.

Wherever Nakamura goes to learn about food culture, she is always pleasantly surprised by the similarities she finds in the different communities. "When I collect these recipes from grandmothers in different countries, it is strange to find that the similar things exist beyond the borders of the country," she explains. "For example, I always notice the grandmothers' ingenuity in feeding their families in the face of starvation, and their secrets to living happily even though they are poor."

Recounting the story of one Cajun grandmother who she met at Cochon de Lait, Nakamura says, "Mavis proudly told me that 'Cajuns don't waste anything.' She shared stories from her childhood with me, describing it as poor but truly, rich. Her parents were farmers, and Mavis had eight sisters, all raised growing cotton, sweet potatoes, corn, cows, horses, pigs, and dogs. Although they didn't have any money, they never went hungry as everything they ate was home-grown, and everything they wore was made by their mother from their own cotton.

"These situations are similar to what I discover in Japan, Thailand, and many countries in Europe too. They knew how to eat, how to live happily without money, and how to stay healthy. These stories teach us about the weaknesses of our own generation, which has not inherited this wisdom and has often overlooked it as trivial," she continues.

The most surprising trait that Nakamura uncovered during her time in New Orleans was the grandmother's love for drinking. "They have so much fun doing it while cooking!" says Nakamura. "But really, this trip has changed my perception of the Cajun community.

"Cajuns have large, close-knit families, and it seems like everyone loves to cook. At first, I thought it may be due to the influence of the Catholic religion, but I now realize the importance of their ingenuity and hard work to maintain those relationships. As Samuel's mother told me, there are three requirements to describe Cajuns: 'Who's your mom, are you Catholic, and can you make a roux from scratch?", says Nakamura.
It's all too easy to view Cajun culture through rose-colored glasses, Nakamura explains, especially when they open up their homes, slow-roast a pig from the early hours of the morning, and serve Cajun cuisine to more than 300 people while Cajun music fills the room.

"The truth is, Cajuns won't organize these festivals by themselves anymore as it's just too much work, so now it's up to the next generations to continue this tradition and add new colors to the mix," she says. "I realized that we need to continue to innovate our culture in order to pass it on to the next generation."

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.     

“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.

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.

Salzburg Global Fellows Named Among Top 100 Influencers in Digital Government
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay
Salzburg Global Fellows Named Among Top 100 Influencers in Digital Government
By: Claire Kidwell 

Fellows have been listed in Apolitical’s Top 100 Most Influential Persons in Digital Government

Two Salzburg Global Fellows have been included in Apolitical’s second annual list of the World’s 100 Most Influential People in Digital Government.

The list contains a variety of change-makers from around the world, including public servants, ministers, academic researchers and activists.

The two Salzburg Global Fellows are Susan Crawford, who attended Transnational Perspectives on Intellectual Property and Communication Law, and Carlos Santiso, who attendedMechanics for the Future: How Can Governments Transform Themselves?

For Santiso, his inclusion in the list provided him with another reason to celebrate. He was also recently invited to join the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Transparency and Anti-Corruption. Santiso said he was “honored and humbled” by both nominations.

Reflecting on his time in Salzburg, Santiso said, “My fellowship at Salzburg Global Seminar and participation in the Public Sector Strategy Network have been instrumental in achieving these recognitions, allowing me to interact with great minds and forward thinkers in the field from around the world.”

“For this, I am grateful to Salzburg Global Seminar for allowing me the space to think anew and afresh on new ways to think and tackle wicked challenges, benefiting from the insights of digital pioneers from around the world.”

The Public Sector Strategy Network equips governments to tackle complex challenges through improved foresight, innovation and implementation. The series is supported by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court in partnership with Apolitical.

Santiso works to create positive changes in his community. He’s currently in Colombia, setting up a new governance practice at CAF - Development Bank of Latin America, focusing on digital innovations in government.   

He said, “The digital revolution brings tremendous opportunities to improve lives in the digital age. It also carries considerable risks to mitigate. New technologies and data intelligence have become critical allies in the global fight against corruption. In this space, innovative gov-tech start-ups have a critical contribution to make. They need to be supported and nurtured.”

YCI Forum Receives Support from Shalini Passi Art Foundation
Logos of Salzburg Global Seminar and Shalini Passi Art FoundationThe Shalini Passi Art Foundation will support Abhinit Khanna's attendance at this year's program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators
YCI Forum Receives Support from Shalini Passi Art Foundation
By: Oscar Tollast 

Foundation will support participation of Mumbai-based arts manager Abhinit Khanna

Salzburg Global Seminar is delighted to announce the Shalini Passi Art Foundation has agreed to support this year’s program of the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.

The Foundation will enable Mumbai-based arts manager Abhinit Khanna to attend this year’s program, Cultural Innovation, Leadership and Collaboration: A Global Platform.

Khanna, who has more than nine years of experience working in visual arts, design, and creative business development, will be one of 50 young cultural innovators from around the world taking part.

Participants will convene at Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, Austria, between October 22 and October 27.

The Shalini Passi Art Foundation endeavors to create a new paradigm for artistic expression in India, by supporting, educating, and encouraging experimental new practices in the field of arts that take inspiration from India’s rich cultural traditions to create a contemporary aesthetic for India.

Shalini Passi is the founder and director of the Foundation, as well as My Art Shalini (MASH) – an online arts platform that collapses the hierarchical distinctions between architecture, art, craft, design, and fashion, by eliciting a rich discourse around creativity in modernity.

Reflecting on his selection for this year’s program, Khanna said, “The prestigious Seminar empowers young leaders in the creative sector to drive social, economic and urban change. It is building a global network of 500 competitively-selected change-makers in ‘hub’ communities who design collaborative projects, build skills, gain mentors, and connect to upcoming innovators in their cities and countries.

“This year the program is specifically looking at empowering cultural leaders from the Global South and I’m delighted to know more about networking opportunities, support, and programming.

“I will be able to bring these knowledges to facilitate the setting up of 'The Fort Arts Center' - a non-profit arts organization in the heart of South Bombay, which I am currently working towards launching in 2020. I’m also looking forward to learn and exchange ideas with other important cultural workers from around the world.”

The YCI Forum sees the ability to network and communicate as one of its founding principles. The YCI Forum has young change agents from around the world representing a broad spectrum of cultural expression and artistic endeavor –  including visual arts, performing arts, literature, cultural heritage, foods, fashion, architecture, and design.

In addition to India, the YCI Forum has welcomed Fellows from Adelaide, Athens, Baltimore, Buenos Aires, Canada, Cape Town, Detroit, Japan, Malta, Manila, Memphis, New Orleans, Mekong Delta, Nairobi, Plovdiv, Rotterdam, Salzburg, Seoul, Slovakia, Tirana, and the Upper Midwest in the U.S.

Other members attending this year’s Forum have now been selected and informed. Their biographies will be made available on in the near future.

Kristalina Georgieva Announced as International Monetary Fund's New Managing Director
Kristalina Georgieva in Washington, D.C.Kristalina Georgieva in Washington, D.C. for the Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program
Kristalina Georgieva Announced as International Monetary Fund's New Managing Director
By: Oscar Tollast 

Salzburg Global Fellow to begin new role on October 1, 2019

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has appointed Salzburg Global Fellow Kristalina Georgieva as its new managing director and chair of the executive board.

On September 25, the IMF confirmed Georgieva would serve a five-year term starting on October 1, 2019. She succeeds Christine Lagarde and becomes the first person from an emerging market economy to lead the IMF.

In a statement, Georgieva said, "I am deeply honored to have been selected as managing director of the IMF and grateful for the trust that the Fund's global membership and the executive board have placed in me. I want to pay tribute to my predecessor, Christine Lagarde, a great leader and a dear friend, whose vision and tireless work have contributed so much to the continued success of the Fund.

"The IMF is a unique institution with a great history and a world-class staff. I come as a firm believer in its mandate to help ensure the stability of the global economic and financial system through international cooperation. Indeed, in my view, the Fund's role has never been more important.

"It is a huge responsibility to be at the helm of the IMF at a time when global economic growth continues to disappoint, trade tensions persist, and debt is at historically high levels. As I noted in my statement to the executive board, our immediate priority is to help countries minimize the risk of crises and be ready to cope with downturns. Yet, we should not lose sight of our long-term objective – to support sound monetary, fiscal and structural policies to build stronger economies and improve people's lives. This means also dealing with issues like inequalities, climate risks and rapid technological change.

"For our readiness to act, safeguarding the Fund's financial strength is essential, and so are enhancing its surveillance and capacity development efforts. Working with my team, my goal is to further strengthen the Fund by making it even more forward-looking and attentive to the needs of our members.

"I look forward to working with all our 189-member countries, the executive board and staff, and with all our partners in the years ahead."

Georgieva previously served as CEO of the World Bank from January 2017 to September 2019. During this time, she also served as interim president of the World Bank Group for three months. She has also served as European Commission vice president for budget and human and resources. Before this role, she was commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response.

Arriving from Bulgaria, Georgieva first attended Salzburg Global Seminar in 1990 as a participant for Negotiation Theory and Practice: Environmental Disputes. She credited Salzburg Global for triggering a "huge change" in her professional life and said, "All in all, Salzburg defines who I am."

She came back to Salzburg in 2013 for the June Board of Directors Weekend. In February 2017, Georgieva was a guest speaker at the Salzburg Cutler Fellows Program. During her talk, she told participants, "I hope we do not have to learn in the hardest way possible that we are in this world together."

Watch Kristalina Georgieva's Salzburg Global Profile*

*This profile was posted in October 2013.

Aiming for Exceptional Care, Accountability, and Results
Astrid S. Tuminez, president of Utah Valley University (Photo: UVU Marketing Communication)Astrid S. Tuminez, president of Utah Valley University (Photo: UVU Marketing Communication)
Aiming for Exceptional Care, Accountability, and Results
By: Oscar Tollast 

Former advisor to Salzburg Global Astrid S. Tuminez discusses her new appointment as the president of Utah Valley University and her memories of Schloss Leopoldskron

In 2018, Astrid S. Tuminez was appointed the seventh president of Utah Valley University, becoming the institution's first female president. Before joining UVU, she served as an executive at Microsoft and, before then, as the former vice dean of research and assistant dean of executive education at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, the National University of Singapore. Tuminez is a Salzburg Global Fellow and former advisor to the organization. We recently spoke with Tuminez to learn more about her work and her memories of Salzburg Global.

You've been appointed the seventh president of Utah Valley University. Congratulations! How does it feel, and what do you want to achieve in this role?

It feels amazing to be the seventh and first female president of Utah Valley University (UVU), the largest university in the state of Utah. UVU has a long history - founded in 1941 - of being scrappy, gritty and relevant. In the current age of digital transformation, massive technology-driven change, and continuing - and, in some cases, rising - inequality, I feel that an institution like UVU is so promising. We have open admissions, and we believe in capitalizing human capital, wherever it comes from. Seventy percent of our students work, 18 percent are people of color, and 29 percent are 25 years or older. We offer vocational, career and technical education through the community college model, while also offering over 90 bachelor’s degrees and 11 master’s degrees. I am sometimes daunted by the responsibilities of being UVU president, but, every day, I am renewed and energized because the work is so meaningful. I work with a wonderful team of administrators, faculty, and staff. Together we can enhance thousands of students’ chances to get the education that will help them live productive, dignified and meaningful lives. That is what “student success” means to me, and that’s what I want to achieve in this role.
You have a vast amount of experience in academia, philanthropy, technology, and business. How will these experiences help you in your new role?

I am a rather untraditional university president, having worked in so many other fields - academic being only one of them - before coming to UVU. When I first applied for this job and did the interviews, I had the epiphany that everything I knew how to do and all the skills and experiences I had acquired could actually be put to good use at a university. I had done research, administration, sales and marketing, legal and compliance, fundraising, investing, peacemaking, etc.—and a university is the perfect place for applying all the lessons I’ve learned in these other fields. Although my Ph.D. is in political science and my undergraduate degree was in Russian literature and international relations, I have always wanted to be more broad than narrow. Today, when knowledge is no longer siloed, I think my experiences can be relevant to students who will likely have non-linear lives and many different careers in their lifetime.
Your profile on Chartwell describes you as an expert in leadership, state-building, nationalism, entrepreneurship, and negotiation. You have spoken on a range of subjects with different audiences. However, is there one learning or piece of wisdom which you always try to convey to others?

At UVU, I have articulated our foundational values as “Exceptional Care, Exceptional Accountability and Exceptional Results.” If there is one piece of wisdom that I have frequently shared, that is the importance of caring. We have to see people as they are, care about them, and be curious about their identities and life experience. If we build from a foundation of care, we can then follow with tough conversations. We can lead in ways that build people, not break them down.

If we focus on leadership, Salzburg Global challenges current and future leaders to shape a better world. In your opinion, what are some of the qualities you would recommend leaders across sectors to work on?

I would go back again to “Exceptional Care” as a foundation. I believe that leaders who are in the game only for power or their own egos will not necessarily shape a better world. Leaders should not believe their own propaganda. That is so unhealthy. The second value I have articulated at UVU is “Exceptional Accountability.” Do leaders walk their talk? Do they act as ethical and responsible stewards of the resources they do control? Are they honest? Do they have integrity?  Finally, at UVU, I have highlighted “Exceptional Results” as our third foundational value. Leaders who want to shape a better world should know how to execute, how to get things done, how to have impact.
I notice you've attended a Salzburg Global Seminar program on Asian economics, alumni events in New York and Singapore, and a Freeman Foundation Symposium. What can you remember about these experiences? Did they have an impact on your career or inspire new ways of thinking?

I have also visited Middlebury when the Seminar still had staff there, and I was an advisor to the Seminar for a few months, out of New York City. My first visit to Schloss Leopoldskron was magical. I made friends with whom I am still in touch today. I remember dancing to Abba’s “Dancing Queen” in the Schloss’ basement. It was such an amazing time of intellectual, social and even emotional renewal. I was thrilled to return a second time. And then I returned for a third time with my family to do one of Schloss Leopoldskorn’s Christmas specials. We had sleigh rides, and my kids roamed around the Schloss looking for hidden doors and passageways. We loved it. The impact on my career has included a deeper appreciation of cross-cultural and interdisciplinary dialogue and a keener understanding of the importance of networks - people and ideas. Amb. Frank Wisner, my mentor who first introduced me to Salzburg Global Seminar, remains my friend and mentor to this day.
In 2014, I understand you were a senior advisor on global strategy and programs for Salzburg Global, too. What motivated you to take on that role, and what was that experience like?

What motivated me to take on that role was the very positive experience and interaction I had had with Salzburg Global, with its Board of Trustees (I attended one meeting in Dallas, TX), with the new leadership under Stephen L. Salyer, and all the colleagues and friends I had met as a Salzburg Global Fellow. If I recall correctly, I was charged to think about new strategies to strengthen Salzburg Global’s programs, reputation, and fundraising. It was a very enjoyable assignment. Alas, it was short-lived!
In a documentary for UVU, we heard how you had a deep commitment to education and liked the idea of educational opportunities across a broad range. Education is the big break in life and frees the human spirit, as the narrator says. What can we do more to highlight the importance of education in the public and private sector and ensure more resources are invested in this area?

Access and affordability are two big buzzwords in the world of education. I believe both are important. I was very lucky as a child, growing up in the slums of the Philippines, to have been given access by Catholic nuns to a high-quality education. They exempted me from tuition, so it was affordable! That opportunity changed the whole trajectory of my life and paved the way to where I am today. I think governments around the world should do more to fund education and to ensure that education is delivered in both traditional and new modalities, meeting people/students where they are - face-to-face, online, hybrid, older students, off-ramp and on-ramp students and so on.  

I am concerned, in the U.S. in particular, that many bash higher education and denigrate its value. The fact of the matter is, without higher education, the United States will not be able to maintain its competitiveness; neither will it live up fully to its values as a democratic and equitable society.  In Asia, where I lived for 13 years, I was very impressed that the public sector in ambitious countries and territories was investing heavily in education, including K-12, university, and adult continuing education.

We are facing a lot of disruption today, and human welfare will depend very much on giving more people access to a quality, affordable education. As for the private sector, I believe in partnerships between industry and higher education institutions. There can be collaborations involving work experience for students [such as] internships [and] apprenticeships; curriculum design from non-academic certification to associate’s/bachelor’s/master’s degrees, and continuing education for those already employed. Nobody can afford to stand still today. We must be learn-it-alls, and the work of education needs support from universities, governments, and industry.
We like to ask Salzburg Global Fellows what inspires them to do their day-to-day work. With that in mind, what motivates you?
UVU students motivate me more than anything. Behind every number in the 40,000 students we have is a person, a story that is unfolding.  My interactions with UVU students replenish my energy. I work for them. When they succeed, I succeed. Nothing is more motivating than that.

Reflecting on the Emerging Field of Geoethics
Salzburg Global Fellows Martin Bohle and Rika Preiser at Schloss LeopoldskronSalzburg Global Fellows Martin Bohle and Rika Preiser at Schloss Leopoldskron
Reflecting on the Emerging Field of Geoethics
By: Lucy Browett 

Salzburg Global Fellows co-author chapter in new book on exploring geoethics

It’s common for first-time participants at Salzburg Global Seminar not to know what to expect during a program. For Martin Bohle, an advisor to senior management at the Directorate General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission, the one thing he did expect was to stand out.

“I was prepared to be the outsider – [an] official of the European Commission (Eurocrat) and STEM-loving,” Bohle said. “In that sense, it was true, but [it] did not feel like that after some initially very suspicious looks faded away.”

Bohle arrived at Schloss Leopoldskron at the beginning of 2018 for the Salzburg Global program, The Shock of the New: Arts, Technology, and Making Sense of the Future. The program, which ran from February 20 to 25, sought to answer questions about the arts, technological advancements, environmental preservation and defining the future.

Despite Bohle’s concerns of being an outsider, his experience at Salzburg led to a significant outcome: finding a new co-author for a book he had begun writing with his colleagues calledExploring Geoethics - Ethical Implications, Societal Contexts, and Professional Obligations of the Geosciences.

The co-author in question was Rika Preiser, a senior researcher at the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition at the School of Public Leadership at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

Bohle and Preiser both spoke on the program panel entitled “Connecting Creative Foresight and Policymaking.”

As a result of meeting in Salzburg, both Preiser and Bohle co-authored the chapter "Exploring Societal Intersections of Geoethical Thinking."

Bohle said of the collaboration, “Her thoughts have enriched the book and strengthened the reflections about system dynamics and cultural contexts. In turn, she [has] discovered new ground that enriches her thinking.”

The book itself is a joint effort of Bohle’s colleagues, all of whom are experts in geoscience with different professional backgrounds to reflect on ethics in geoscience. He said, “We present the emerging field of geoethics, its potential, and limitations.

“This work is about how ethical subjects relate to professional duties, scholarly interests, activities in professional geoscience associations, or responsible citizenship in times of anthropogenic global change.”

Bohle and Preiser have since joined forces again to create the publication Handling GeoEndowments Geoethically for this year’s EGU General Assembly, which took place earlier this month.

Reflecting on his time in Salzburg, Bohle said, “Participating at [the program] strengthened my determination to think about ‘The Future’ from various angles.

“I got exposed to people and their ideas that otherwise I would not have met. In consequence, I understood deeper that geosciences have a cultural meaning, in an educational sense as well as in daily societal practices. That meaning needs to be expressed, what brings artists closer to my thinking - thanks to Salzburg Global. The book refers to arts in some places, but that relationship I have to explore further.”

How did the program impact him personally and professionally? Bohle said his network had been enriched and he had become exposed to different ideas. He added, “This [experience] has co-shaped what I did last year; the book is one example.”

The Salzburg Global program, The Shock of the New: Arts, Technology and Making Sense of the Future, was part of the multi-year Culture, Arts and Society series. The program was supported by the Edward T. Cone Foundation. More information on the program can be found by clicking on the following link:

Creating a New Network in the “International Spirit” of Salzburg
Participants of Contemporary American Literature gather on the steps of the Schloss for a group photoParticipants of the Salzburg Seminar program, Contemporary American Literature, posing for a group photo in 1973
Creating a New Network in the “International Spirit” of Salzburg
By: Lucy Browett 

A story involving Salzburg Global Seminar and the International Society for Contemporary Literature and Theatre (ISCLT), a network established in 1975 still going strong today

When Marina Catalano-McVey attended the program Contemporary American Literature at the then Salzburg Seminar in July 1973, it would have been difficult for her to foresee a literature society founded by fellow participants of that program would be holding its annual conference this year, as it has done since 1975.

“I remember that meeting - so many people, all passionate about literature - was a very enriching experience,” said Catalano-McVey of the program. “The lectures were extremely interesting - for me, personally, like opening windows on different realities. In particular, the workshops were inspiring and motivating.

“I remember the beauty of Schloss Leopoldskron and Salzburg and the long, interesting conversations we had in our free time.”

After the program, Catalano-McVey collaborated with other participants, all of whom had the same goal in mind, to create an international society for those who are passionate about literature to meet “according to the international spirit of the Salzburg Seminar.”

The founding members came from a variety of countries, many of whom still regularly attend events. Founders include Professor Agnieska Salska, Gudrun Westing, Luisa-Fernanda Rodriguez, Hartwig Isernhagen, Joanna Cizek, Dr. Gordon Bennett, Dr. Maurice Engelborg, Professor Jessie Ball, Professor Robert Bellflower, Tony Bloomfield, Belma Otus-Baskett, Jerry Parks and Aage Buechner. Catalano-McVey, herself, is the current executive secretary of the society.

The international aspect of the program is something which has inspired Catalano-McVey in her personal life, as well as in the creation and continuation of ISCLT.

She said, “Meeting people from so many different countries helped us understand the differences existing in various cultures, which is still an extremely relevant aspect of my personal world. Friendship among many participants has bloomed and is still a strong bond.”

ISCLT has impacted Catalano-McVey’s career, too. She said, “ISCLT has been a huge support for me in developing my writing skills, and I owe many ISCLTers a lot. Thanks to their encouragement and suggestions, I have finally come to publish several books (novels and short stories).”

The society is still attended today and celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2015. An annual two-week conference is held in a different country every year in the second half of July.

Catalano-McVey detailed the nature of the conferences. She said, “We chose to deal with contemporary Literature and Theatre, limiting the books we present to the past 10 years. We decided moreover to give space to our personal production.

“In the morning, we have lectures on various authors relating to the previously chosen theme. We have workshops in the afternoon - poetry, prose, plays, creative writing, etc. We have readings and performances in the evenings.”

Additionally, excursions take place around the conference location. Locations are often selected based on the locality of a member who is willing to host, who also has good connections with the area and can offer insider knowledge.

This year’s conference will be held in Vicoforte, Italy from July 16 to July 30, with the theme “Memory in Contemporary Literature and Theatre.” ISCLT is on the lookout for new participants “who in our opinion would appreciate what we do.”

Catalano-McVey said, “Unfortunately, time elapses so quickly and most of the founding members and other members passed away. Therefore, it is necessary to find new younger people in order to allow this wonderful society to thrive in the future.

“In the course of the years, many new members joined in and enriched our conferences with fantastic contributions. Quite a lot of the newcomers are alumni from various Salzburg Seminars; others are friends, acquaintances or colleagues of the members.”

Further reflecting on the ways how the program in Salzburg impacted her life, Catalano-McVey said, “I was invited by my university professor Sergio Perosa. I am eternally grateful to him for the invitation, which represented for me an opportunity of personal growth and connected me with all the other founding members with whom a beautiful, long-lasting friendship began.”

For more information on ISCLT, visit or email Marina Catalano-McVey at

Revisiting the Salzburg Spirit and Opportunities for Connection
Elizabeth Power Robison at Salzburg Global SeminarElizabeth Power Robison at Salzburg Global Seminar
Revisiting the Salzburg Spirit and Opportunities for Connection
By: Oscar Tollast 

Elizabeth Power Robison, vice president of Center Advancement at the Milken Institute, returns to Schloss Leopoldskron and reflects on new project

Elizabeth Power Robison is no stranger to Schloss Leopoldskron. In addition to being a Salzburg Global Fellow, Robison is one of a few who can count the palace as a former home. Robison interned at Salzburg Seminar – the former name of the organization – in the summer of 1992. While she’s returned multiple times since this internship, this was her first trip in her role as vice president of Center Advancement at the Milken Institute.

Robison was one of more than 40 participants to attend Citizen Diplomacy at the Crossroads: Activating Networks for Change, a three-day immersive learning program hosted by Salzburg Global Seminar, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance.

Alongside others, Robison took part in workshops, panels, and case-study discussions. She said, “When Ben [Glahn] said how much had changed at the organization, I kind of smiled because from an outside perspective, I haven’t been back at the Schloss since 2005, and it feels like nothing has really changed. I say that in a very positive way in that the culture of the organization… the energy, the spirit of the team that [is] here, I think have those important Salzburg values.”

Robison suggested she may have been distressed if she had felt a change, as she expanded further on what the “Salzburg values” consist of. She said, “Interestingly, given the topic we have here, fellowship is, I think, a really core part of the Salzburg experience… I think connection both in our conversations and relationships here but [also] the interconnectedness of the world, especially at a time where our leaders are using rhetoric that’s so divisive…

“For me, the Seminar represents that coming together of that community, that fellowship, but also a willingness to speak in candor and transparency that you might not find in another setting. There’s something kind of like a truth filter that comes out here.”

Robison joined the Milken Institute in January 2018, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank “determined to increase global prosperity by advancing collaborative solutions that widen access to capital, create jobs and improve health.” Robison says it’s also referred to as an “action tank.” It has offices in North America, Asia, and Europe.

“My role there is quite broad but focused on what I’ve done for my whole career, which is raising funds and building relationships for the organization. It’s been great,” Robison said.

One of her latest projects has involved interviewing world leaders about their dreams of impact, where they’ve come from, what they’ve achieved, and what education has meant in their process. Robison said, “It really is uplifting to talk to people who have really achieved great things, and you realize the challenges everyone faces in the world.”

Robison was attracted to return to Salzburg to reflect on the idea of global leadership and the responsibility of organizations to cultivate global leadership through their fellowship programs. Speaking on the second day of the program, Robison said, “We haven’t even been here 24 hours, and people are friendly, communicative, [and] conversational. Everyone wants to engage. You don’t see anyone kind of drifting away. They’re in such a short time creating a connection and engagement, and it to me is spectacular. I feel like I’m right back in it.”

Robison was born in Massachusetts but grew up in Vermont. In high school, she went on American Field Service and was given the opportunity to study in Israel. After graduating from college, she moved to Salzburg for her second experience of living outside the US.

“I think the experience of Israel and then Salzburg, which are very different countries and cultures, really, I think gave me a sense of the diversity of the world, at least in the kind of European context.

“It’s always been important in my whole career, even if my career didn’t seem aligned. International travel and experience and global communication [were] very important to me, so even working in higher education for 25 years I built international programs, funded international travel opportunities, created faculty-led trips and have continued to be very active in that.”

The program Citizen Diplomacy at the Crossroads: Activating Networks for Change was held in partnership with The German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance, as part of the Global Leaders Consortium (GLC).

Manjeet Kripalani - "Our Arrival Has Changed the Dynamics in the Think Tank World"
Manjeet Kripalani, pictured, is the co-founder of Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations (Photo: Gateway House)Manjeet Kripalani, pictured, is the co-founder of Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations (Photo: Gateway House)
Manjeet Kripalani - "Our Arrival Has Changed the Dynamics in the Think Tank World"
By: Oscar Tollast 

Co-founder of Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations discusses her work and her experience at Salzburg Global

Manjeet Kripalani is the co-founder of Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. She is also a Salzburg Global Fellow, having attended Mass Media in the Age of Globalization in October, 2000. At this point in her career, she was the bureau chief for Business Week magazine in Mumbai. Kripalani recently spoke with Salzburg Global to discuss the role of Gateway House, its successes, its challenges, and where its focus lies in the immediate future.

SG: Manjeet, thank you for taking the time to talk with Salzburg Global. To begin, can you tell us about Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, and the purpose behind it?

MK: We are a foreign policy think tank in Mumbai, established to engage India’s leading corporations and individuals in debate and scholarship on India’s foreign policy and the nation’s role in global affairs. We are membership-based, independent, non-partisan and not-for-profit.

We are located in Mumbai for several reasons, to get a non-Delhi, non-landlocked perspective of India but also because Mumbai is India’s most international, cosmopolitan city, one with historical links to the outside world. Mumbai is also at the heart of the changing international matrix – globalization, terrorism, energy, environment, innovation, technology, nation-building, and the new geoeconomics. And it is home to the country’s leaders – corporate, financial, media, artistic and technological. Mumbai is, as our logo and brand depicts the gateway to India and our face to the world.

SG: As I understand it, you were inspired to establish Gateway House during your time as an Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. What was it, in particular, that gave you that lightbulb moment?

MK: Three reasons: 1. The similarities between Mumbai and New York are obvious and were made even more apparent when I was at CFR. The pragmatic impact of business on America’s foreign policy is clear; it makes that country’s positioning and diplomacy more compelling and closer to the reality of people’s lives.

2. The participation of business, as members, of CFR, whether in meetings and discussions, in providing input on papers, in fund-raising and board positions, was active and impressive. I thought then – we can easily have a similar institution, a home for India’s internationalists, in Mumbai. As a business journalist who worked in both New York and Mumbai, I knew this was possible, and would be welcomed in India.

3. The time was right – India was changing thanks to the outsourcing of software, it was becoming a global participant, and it was the software business that was leading our diplomacy at that moment.

The actual moment when we became a reality for the public was [on] the 26th November 2008 [after the] attacks on Mumbai. No one knew who these attackers were, and the need for a think tank in Mumbai, which could study international affairs both economically and security-wise, was felt. Our funding came in right after this.

SG: What, in your opinion, are some of the success stories Gateway House can recount?

MK: There are several: 1. We are now nine years old, and still, the only major non-Delhi think tank in India, one which is independent, private and membership based. Our model is unique, and I don’t think easily replicable.

2. Our arrival has changed the dynamics in the think tank world, injecting a dose of cordiality into what is a fiercely competitive think tank landscape in India.

3. Because we are in Mumbai, our study area is geoeconomics and international finance, multilateral engagements – studies that have not been a focus in India. We parley that into global geoeconomic conferences and a deep study into the G20 financial agenda. We study with maritime affairs, given Mumbai’s coastal position, and data security, so important for India’s IT and other businesses.

4. We are the only think tank in India that creates visual research – maps and infographics, usually the preserve of consultants. It has given us the edge in our industry, and globally.  

5. We are perhaps the only think tank in the world founded by two women – one diplomat, one business journalist. We don’t play this up or parley it well enough in today’s politically correct world because we ourselves don’t feel any different from other entrepreneurs. But the input we receive from others is that the workplace is more congenial and that the special talents of individuals are nurtured and enabled to blossom.

SG: What are some of the challenges you've faced since establishing Gateway House? With hindsight, are there things that you would have done differently?

MK: Primarily, being founded by two women means that male-led institutional bastions do not treat women-led institutions with the same seriousness that they do the men’s club. We live with it, but we hope that soon it will change in India. I don’t think we would do anything differently.

There isn’t much recognition of the work and necessity of a think tank in Mumbai, for Mumbai. But as India is rapidly globalizing, we find that the knowledge of world affairs is gaining currency – and that’s where we come in.

SG: There are evidently a wide number of foreign policy issues to tackle. What's one area where more focus is required?

MK: A greater study of finance, of economics, of business, of media, of maritime affairs, of the blue economy, of technology. And less of a western lens in viewing the world. We need to build a body of literature and analysis, case studies, on India and its foreign policy.

SG: You've had an illustrious career. You've had an extensive career in journalism and gained significant experience in politics. In your current role, do you feel as if those experiences help you and provide you with an advantage in your work?

MK: No question that it does. A reporter is a researcher, a questioner, a tracker, following a quest that is persevering and who never gives up until the truth is found. A think tank does that and more – it develops an analysis of the same, and makes recommendations on policy-making.

Also writing is essential to communication. It is a skill, an art, a passion for me. Our website and papers do well because we do not write in dry, academic, jargon; we write in simple, clear language, so that ordinary people, young people – and in India, less literate people – can understand even the nuances of foreign policy.

SG: You attended a program of Salzburg Global Seminar called Mass Media in the Age of Globalization. What can you remember about this program? Did it have an impact on you in any shape?

MK: This was very long ago, but I do remember that it brought together groups of people from different parts of the world and from different areas of expertise and experience, all of whom were put together to bring forth a common solution. That has stayed with me as the defining characteristic of Salzburg. It taught me a lot.